Clutter is a fact of life for most parents. One mom offers tips for taming the mess and getting your home in order.
Let’s be honest: When you have kids, you accumulate an abundance of stuff. From products to soothe and comfort them as babies to itty bitty figures and the countless toy houses that go with them when they’re a little older, it can get really tough to tackle clutter. While I can be the queen of messes, sometimes I go on epic decluttering sprees that leave me feeling much more sane and in charge of my surroundings-even if neither of those things is actually true.
In the spirit of helping a mother out and making you feel more sane and in charge, I’m sharing eight super-simple organization tricks that my sister and I swear by.
Hack #1: Baskets
In my house, there are baskets everywhere. We have shelves filled with them. They’re in our cabinets and under side tables. They’re next to my girls’ desks and all over our basement. The
reason? They offer an incredibly easy way to contain similar items and hide things that look messy.
Toys are sorted into different categories and the baskets are put onto our shelves. Things my daughters need to put away are in baskets next to their desks. Smaller baskets hold like food items to make it easier to grab and go. And I love the look of nice, cozy blankets stored in a basket instead of haphazardly strewn over chairs. Baskets can also be a great way to store puzzles and card games, which brings me to our next hack…
Hack #2: Storing Board Games
I won’t lie to you–our board game situation was the bane of my existence for a while. I cringed any time one of the girls asked to play a game because I knew that getting a board game out was going to require some serious Tetris skills and would more likely than not end with me getting hit in the head with flying game pieces.
That is until I made the (brilliant) decision to store all of our board games sideways instead of lying them flat and on top of one another. This way, when someone wants to play a game, all you have to do is slide it out of its slot. There’s no delicate balancing act or cursing or crawling on the floor looking for tiny pieces. Pro tip: You might want to secure boxes with a rubber band if you store them this way to make sure the tops don’t slide off.
Hack #3 Kids Dress Up Outfits
I don’t know about you, but I’m a saver. If I think my kids will get use out of it, it stays. That means we have a ragtag collection of old Halloween costumes, party props, and dress up clothes exploding all over the place. While I’ve yet to tackle our mess, I absolutely love how
my sister organized my niece’s dress up.
With nothing more than a hanging rod and a shelf, not only does her dress up look nice, but it’s organized in a way that’s manageable for my niece and makes choosing things much less overwhelming than digging through an enormous mound (which is our current situation). The baskets up top keep all of the loose accessories together and out of view.
Hack #4: Food Containers for Craft Supplies
Like dress up, craft supplies are another area that gets unruly really quickly. For one, I’m kind of a craft supply hoarder. Aside from typical things such as crayons, markers, and glue, I keep an assortment of things that may otherwise have found their way into the garbage. I love seeing
what creative ways my daughters find to use things such as bottle caps or a pair of jeans that got too tattered to wear anymore. (The jeans were turned into a pretty cool throw pillow by my tween.)
The problem? With so many random things on hand, it can be difficult to corral them and then store everything neatly–until my repurposed craft supplies inspired me to repurpose containers to hold them in.
Now I clean and save takeout containers or any other plastic containers our food comes in (hummus containers, for instance, are a great size for holding tiny beads) and store craft supplies in those. Not only is it cheap and eco-friendly, but it keeps things contained and makes it easier to stack them inside our craft closet.
Hack #5: Pill Organizer for Hair Ties
Another kids organization problem always making me crazy is hair ties–especially the teensy, tiny hair ties required for babies’ fine hair and for securing small braids and ponytails. They’re so small they’re hard to keep track of to begin with. Add in varying sizes and kids who get very specific about what color is allowed to grace their head each day and you have yourself a situation that can easily suck up more of your precious morning time than you’d like.
Pill organizers have completely changed that for me. The small compartments are the perfect size for sorting hair ties of different colors, sizes, and materials. It makes it easier to find what you’re looking for and helps limit choices if your daughter has to pick them out herself.
It’s essential to note that, obviously, this is not a great idea if you regularly use pill organizers for actual medicine. I wouldn’t want my daughter feeling comfortable sorting through one for hair ties if there were organizers elsewhere in the house containing medicine that she might find and feel free to explore.
Hack #6: Shoeboxes for Storage
This one is similar to baskets, but it’s a free, eco-friendly version for spots that don’t need to look pretty. You can, however, make them pretty if you need to with a coat of paint or some scrapbook paper.
My kids’ dressers always drive me crazy. They’re constantly digging and pulling things out of there so that it becomes impossible to find anything really quickly. To combat that, I’ve started using shoeboxes to keep smaller items together. I fill open shoeboxes with underwear, socks, tights, and bathing suits to make them easier to find. I can’t even tell you how much time this one little tip saves me.
I also use shoeboxes for crayons, markers, colored pencils, and stickers. It’s so much easier than trying to keep them in the boxes they typically come in. My girls generally destroy those pretty quickly.
Hack #7: Toilet Paper Tubes for Cords
I realize this one sounds a little insane at first, but hear me out. We had tangled messes of power cords and wires for all of our technological devices spread all over the house. My husband solved the tangling problem with Velcro strips, which at least helped tame them into little circles. But there was still the problem of having cords all over the house and constantly being unsure of where to find the particular one we needed.
Enter toilet paper tube organization! Once the cords are wrapped into tight circles and secured with Velcro, they fit perfectly into toilet paper tubes-which fit nicely into shoeboxes. Now, we line up toilet paper tubes inside of a shoebox (which is so easy to tuck into cabinets and out of sight) and store a cord in each tube.
Pro tip: Use washi tape to make labels for each of your cords to make finding them even easier.
Hack #8: Wine Crates for Storage
Sometimes it’s nice to switch things up a bit. My sister scored a bunch of wine crates for free at a local liquor store. Like baskets and shoeboxes, they are a great way to contain things, but they add a kind of visual feel. While baskets can almost melt into the background and go unnoticed, wine crates are a little unexpected and add a cool touch. They’re also nice and sturdy, which comes in handy if little people are going to be sorting through them.
By Jennifer Garry, a freelance writer and Westchester mom. She writes the blog CuddlesandChaos.com.