When my kids were really young, I struggled with keeping all of their stuff organized – their toys, their seasonal clothes, their stuffed animals, the plastic cups, plates, and bowls. The amount of stuff three little toddlers had was overwhelming! Let’s talk about how to disguise it all so your home appears neat and organized.
Oh!… but before we get there… I have to tell you that my inbox is down to just TWO emails!!! I consider that a complete success since, for the record, both are projects I’ve been working on today. So did you meet the challenge I posed earlier this week to get your own inbox down to zero?
Now onto organization…
As we jump into 2018, I thought it may help you if I shared my own experience of how I stayed organized over the years of raising three kids and how my organization methods have adjusted as they’ve grown.
Let’s start from the beginning and talk about how to organize kids’ stuff at every stage – from baby to teen….
The Baby & Toddler Phase
It seemed like we continued to accumulate mountains of items when the kids were really tiny. I am so lucky to have such generous family and friends that helped us as we got started raising a family.
In addition to new items, we were given tons of hand-me-downs from my sister who had three boys just a bit older than mine. I was so lucky to barely ever have to buy clothes for my kids, but this also meant I stored a lot of clothes, shoes, and toys until they grew into them.
It seemed at the time, the best way to contain the clothes that didn’t fit in their closet was with large plastic bins. Each bin, was labelled boy or girl, along with the general size so that when my kids needed to “shop” for new clothes, we sorted through the correct bin.
One mistake I made at the time, though, was that I purchased solid colored bins. The solid bins are fine for color-coding Christmas (red & green) or Halloween (black & orange) items. But for clothing, I recommend THESE large 70-quart clear bins with covers that latch securely.
The key to using these bins for toys is to group similar toys together and have individual bins dedicated to large sets – like Playmobil castles, Legos, doll houses, and stuff animals. And pull just one bin out at a time.
Tucking stuffed animals inside a beanbag is another great trick.
Another valuable tip is to fill their bedroom closets with shelves. I find shelves to be so much more valuable than hanging space when the kids are young. We filled each of my kids closets and our living room closets with Closetmaid wire shelves from Lowes. They’re fairly inexpensive, extremely durable, and can be cut right at Lowes to fit the full-width of the closet.
The Young Child Phase
As the kids grow, they’ll want to access toys and books on their own and you’ll want to teach them a little responsibility by making it easy for them to put things away.
THESE small bookcases and THESE color-coded storage bins are easy to access and keep like items together. More than 15 years later, I actually still have these white bookcases. They’ve now been repurposed to hold cans of paint in in my cellar.
Another of my favorite tips to storing (aka hiding) away kids toys is a matching set of four medium-sized baskets. I originally purchased them to slide under my coffee table, basically taking the toys inside them completely out of sight. They’re large enough to hold a lot of toys but small enough not to hold too many to be overwhelming.
Then for many years they were placed behind my couch in a row. Today they’re lined up on the floor of my pantry where they keep canned goods separated from cleaning supplies and dog food. They have a million uses and are well worth the investment.
Another one of my secrets to hiding items in plain sight is hampers. Yes, woven hampers! They’re large so you can stuff just about anything in them and the cover conceals the mess. I have one in my entryway. I love THIS one from World Market.
The Teen & Adult
While all of those bins, baskets, and bookcases worked well when the kids were really young, what works even better now that the kids are older is well-planed furniture that can disguise the clutter and make your house appear clean and organized every day.
If chosen correctly, the right furniture willl last from toddler to adult and far beyond that. Furniture is not only decorative, but it’s multi-purpose and can hold and hide away tons of clothes, toys, books, video games – keeping them out of sight for a tidy home.
Take THIS blue and white dresser for instance. Large drawers aren’t just for clothes. They fit video games, dvd’s, stuffed animals, and other toys.
HERE is a comparable mid-century dresser option on Amazon.
A sideboard with cabinet doors like THIS is a great option to tuck away the mountain of shoes in an entryway, hats, gloves, or craft supplies. When the doors are closed, your guests will never know what you’re hiding!
HERE is another great option on Amazon with tons of storage.
Storage benches are another secret storage space. Place them at the end of a bed, in an entryway, or tuck one behind your couch. Guests will never know you’re hiding a mess of toys in there!
I could go on and on suggesting storage ideas to hide away the clutter; but these are my top tips and ones I’ve used throughout my own house. And, if I do say so, one of the things I hear most from my friends who visit is they wonder how I keep my house so neat with three kids.
It’s easy. You just have to learn to disguise it!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products similiar to those I’ve used myself.