By Karen Fritscher-Porter
Easy Home Organizing
1. Sink to their level. Get on your knees in their room to view things from a kid's level. Convenience is an important factor in getting anyone to organize or put things away. Lower clothing racks in the closet. Put most frequently used items on the lowest shelves and in the lowest drawers. Set up decorative, short open bins, crates, baskets and boxes in corners, on closet floors and at the foot of the bed.
2. Hide stuff under the bed. Use flat, rectangular storage bins on wheels that are made for under-the-bed storage. Designate one of these for Barbie dolls and another for mini toy cars. Store your children's artwork including construction paper and crayons in one of the bins. Older children can store schoolwork and notebooks here. Got music lovers? They can keep a pile of CDs handy here.
3. Make organizing fun. Organizing can be a drag even for "big people." Imagine how your child feels at the thought of clearing away his toys, clothes and school work. Get your children involved by letting them creatively label their own drawers and bins. They can make personalized drawings as labels. Or you can take photos of your child with an object that goes in the drawer and tape it to the front of the bin or drawer. Is the drawer supposed to hold small toy soldiers? Tape a small clear plastic pocket to the outside of the drawer that's stuffed with an example of the contents such as one toy soldier. You can buy notebook plastic sleeves (also called sheet protectors) from any office supply store. Then just cut them to the size needed. Use clear shipping tape to attach labels to bins. Put a laundry hamper under a kid size basketball hoop.
4. Keep drawers shallow. The deeper the drawer, the more kids will fill it. With a few exceptions for big bulky items, use shallow drawers. Some narrow storage carts on wheels come with five or six shallow drawers. You can roll the cart into the closet if needed or line several in a row against a wall. Fill deeper drawers with mini-organizers such as small trays, tins, recycled cardboard boxes and more. Don't use lids on the mini-organizers; that's just a hassle for kids to find their items and remember to put the lids back on each item. Use makeshift cardboard dividers to separate things in drawers--like socks.
5. Color code it. Buy blue bins for Barbie dolls and red bins for fire trucks. Put summer clothing on green hangers and Sunday dress outfits on blue hangers. Or use different colors for different children. Suzy gets blue bins and hangers and Sandy gets red bins and hangers.
6. Hang it. Your children might view their collection of self-created artwork in much the same way as you view your collection of store-bought artwork. Buy inexpensive frames and hang drawings in a clustered artistic layout on one wall in your child's room. It adds a decorative and personalized element. Put up a cork/bulletin board for the kids to hang ribbons and medals from field days, school spirit events and competitions. Another cork board can be for photos. Or hang a rectangular vertical homemade fabric organizer with pockets beside the door to hold photos, souvenir card collections and birthday cards through the years.
7. Set ground rules. For example, before you play another board game, you must first put this board game away. Before each gift-giving season, you must pick one item to donate to a nonprofit organization; it brings a smile to the face of a child with less than you. You can only keep things in your room that have a place. So if a drawer is full and you want to keep something new, you must discard something from the drawer (for example, an old piece of artwork for a new piece of artwork or an old broken toy for a new one).
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