Kids and Clutter: It’s All About Controlling the Chaos
Whether you’ve got a house full of energetic teens, adorable babies, or wild and crazy toddlers, they all have one thing in common: they seem to make messes and create clutter wherever they go. Having kids is a joy, but the junk they leave in their wake can be exhausting to control for mom and dad. Just when one area is tidied, it seems like the next one erupts with Legos, hockey equipment, blocks and who knows what else, until you can’t even see the floor (or find your kids).
If you’re finding there are days (or weeks and months) when the kids and their clutter are taking over, take heart; you can regain control! With just a few simple tips and professional help when you need it, you can reign in the chaos and live in a peaceful, organized home.
“And this mess is so big, And so deep and so tall, We cannot pick it up. There is no way at all!”
- Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
Tips for Controlling Kids Chaos
As most parents know, toys are like rabbits; they multiply rapidly (While we’re sleeping maybe?) then take over the house before we even know what’s hit us, spilling out of every corner of the house. Containment is an absolute necessity when it comes to kids toys. Keep them in bins in one or two rooms; teach your young children to keep toys in their bedrooms or playroom, and store them in designated bins. Teaching kids early that if they take a toy out, they must put another one back will be a life-saver as you work to control clutter as they grow.
As your kids move from one stage to the next (e.g. when the princess and pirate obsessions give way to the newest craze sweeping the nation), be prepared to donate and consign. Mom to Mom sales and places like Salvation Army will take your children’s gently used toys and make another family very happy. As an added bonus, you’ve done a good turn for the earth by not simply throwing your child’s old toys in the landfill (that’s what we like to hear!).
If you need help finding a new home for your children’s unwanted toys, The Junkluggers partners with many local charities who accept your toy and clothing donations.
For older children and teens who use electronic devices, designated charging stations reduce the clutter because it keeps all their devices in one place. Keep their video games and board games in bins that fit underneath their beds, neatly out of sight yet never out of mind (so you can respond to choruses of, “I’m bored and there’s nothing to do!” with, “Did you check under your bed?”)
As your children grow, so does their stuff. Toddlers who learned to put away their toys will become teens who put away their cleats, tap shoes, and book bags when they get home from school instead of dumping them at the back door. Start controlling the chaos young so it stays in control as your kids age.
If your teens haven’t learned the ways of the organized toddler, it’s often quite motivating to stash items they’ve forgotten or refused to put away in a Time Out Box kept in an undisclosed location. The next time your teen goes looking for shoes, hats, scarves, or anything else they’ve discarded without thinking, they won’t be able to find it because it has been surreptitiously stowed in your Time Out Box. You can inform them their items will be returned soon, but only if they remember to pick up after themselves in the future.
Children grow quickly! Which means you’ll constantly need to sort varying sizes of clothing to keep their rooms organized (and avoid trying to stuff their feet into shoes that are two sizes too small). To keep control of outgrown clothing chaos, treat kids clothes just like their toys, regularly donating gently used clothing to charity.
What about all those shoes, jackets and backpacks that get tossed by the front door, the minute your kids walk into the house? Yeah, that. The constant nagging to get them to remove their things gets exhausting. One way to de-clutter the front entry (or back room) from school stuff is, if there’s room, add a coat hook to the wall and a bench with shoe storage. It’s a perfect solution to contain the things that are used every day.
“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.”
- Phyllis Diller
Kids School Stuff
Papers, papers, everywhere. Bins and boxes filled with collections of artwork and paperwork begins in preschool and doesn’t end until they leave for college. While some of the papers you’ll want to save, and others are needed for studying, many more you’ll need to recycle or toss. If you decided to save, store them in filing bins or baskets designated for each child. If you can’t stand getting rid of your child’s artwork, take a quick photo and make an album for each school year; this will keep everything organized, unfaded, and safe from being crushed and torn.
Home-Hacks For Less Clutter
It seems impossible, but it’s not: You can have a (basically) clutter-free home. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being inventive. As always, necessity is the mother of invention – so when you’ve got junk and clutter to tackle, get innovating and you’ll slowly get organized.
• Repurpose! To clear desk clutter from a child’s work space, hang a small rod on the wall and use hooks to hang cups to store pens, pencils, scissors and other supplies.
• Bins! Small toys can easily be stored in bins. Keep them labeled so your child knows where to put the toy away; use pictures for younger children who can’t read. Being organized is an invaluable skill your children will use throughout their lives.
• Replace the monster! Unused space underneath beds is a great place to store items that aren’t used often or that are bulky. There are varying sizes of bins that fit perfectly beneath beds. It’s a perfect area to put clothing and toys, especially in smaller living spaces that lack in storage.
• Digitize! Instead of keeping all those pictures and paintings, preserve them for eternity using your smartphone. If you have multiple kids over multiple years, you’ll quickly acquire a lot of papers and clutter. But, if you store their items in the Cloud, your room is limitless!
• Doors! Over the door shoe organizers make the perfect place to store little toys. Keep Legos organized and away from your feet (Ouch!) by placing them inside the shoe-pockets. Shoe organizers are another great way to organize small items, and come in a variety of sizes that will often fit inside the pockets of the door organizers.
• Shoeboxes! Instead of throwing out those shoeboxes, repurpose them. Decorate the boxes with pretty wrapping paper and use them for storage. They are perfect for action figures, crayons and other small toys. Limit your child to one or two “special” boxes for small toys, and donate the rest so your home isn’t filled with Happy Meal toys and random collections of game pieces.
• Mason Jars! These little jars are so much more than for food. They are perfect for housing toothbrushes and toothpaste, hairbrushes, ponytail holders and more. Use a sharpie and personalize them for each child. Viola, your bathroom counter is suddenly organized!
• Boxes! Big ones! Kids love to dress up and they have dozens of costumes to prove it! Take a large box, paint it, throw in a curtain rod and your child has a cute closet to neatly hold all their costumes.
• Mesh bags! You can store pretty much anything in a mesh bag. An entire collection of Army men? No problem, they fit into a mesh bag. Mr. Potato Head and all his facial features? They fit in there, too!
And any of these hacks can be modified to fit the child’s age. Teens can use them to organize their electronics, cords, video games and any of the ‘toys’ teenagers seem to collect.
“Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.”-James Dobson
When kids are involved, your mantra should be, “It’s clean enough.” Why? Because while organizing is important, your children are more important. The time you spend with them is the most important gift you can give, and although they do create mess and chaos, you can’t control every bit of it; they’re kids, after all. Mess comes with the territory. So, relax. Organize as best you can. There will be plenty of time when the kids are grown and out of the house to regain complete control. And when that happens, you’ll give anything to step on a Lego in the middle of the night. So, take a deep breath and enjoy the fleeting moments, even the ones of complete chaos.
Of course, when you do organize and have boxes and bags of items to donate, recycle, and get rid of all together, always remember The Junkluggers is here for you! When you’re ready to do a major clean out, let us help make your job easier and faster, and get you back to the most important parts of your life: enjoying your family.