Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kids Rooms ORGANIZED?!?

Yes, it can be done.  The first thing to remember is that any kids room is going to get dirty and messy.  It's the life of a child and the way they learn. 

However, that doesn't mean that you have to accept it as a lost cause.  Most children as well as adults are more productive, creative and calmer with order.  So how do we find that happy medium.

1) Take stock/inventory of the child and their needs.  What does that mean?  It means you have to take the time, and with kids this means at a minimum two times a year, realistically with younger children it means more like 4 times a year, to sort through all clothing items, toys & even decor to assess what the child uses and needs now. 

2) Minimize.  Success comes with being able to manage what is there.  Children really need only a few various types of toys and clothing. Contrary to popular belief they don't need a different outfit for everyday of the month and more toys does not equal happiness.  If you have a play room keep larger blocks, doll houses, large plastic toys & cars in the play room.  If not then select an area in the child's room and limit these large items to 1 or two. 

3) Sort like with like.  Put stuffed animals with stuffed animals, blocks with blocks, cars with cars, small dolls with small dolls, large dolls with large dolls, dinosaurs with dinosaurs, etc... Putting the items in bins that are easy to handle and carry by the child is important.  They will try to move these around the room even at a yound age unless they are attached to a shelf or wall.  Having clear bins makes it easier for a child to recognize and sort.  If you use colored or dark conainers put pictures or easy recognized words on tags of the conatiners.  Take the time to show the child each container.  If they are at least 18 months of age have them help you sort.  Using the words and names of each item you put in the container. 

**With clothing this means seperate clothing according to item.  socks in a small drawer, underwear in their drawer, shirts in their own drawer, pants, etc...If you have large or limited drawer space you can use one drawer for two clothing items and put drawer dividers in to keep things seperated.  Closets for younger children can be used to hang dressy clothes, jackets and sweaters and to house shoes.  Some closets are large enough to hold the dresser and the additional space can be used for shelves for bins of toys or large toy items.

3) Rotate.  IF your child has a lot of clothes and toys then separate them into the according bins and drawers and then every two weeks or every other month rotate the items that are available to the child.  This will help give variety and also to gauge what items the child prefers to play with or wear.  It also helps limit what is available in the child's space so that they don't become overwhelmed with choices.

4) Limit decorative items in the room.  A picture or two on the walls and a few items on the shelves is all a child needs.  You don't want to over stimulated a child in their space and all items in a child's room can become an object to play with or in other words another toy.

5) Be realistic to the child's age and ability.  The younger the child the shorter the attention span and motor control.  So large easy to play with toys for younger children.  Small toys and multiple pieces become choking concerns and also are more likely to be strewn all over the room.  Help younger children put things away by encouraging them to sort or put things in the right bin or basket.

6) Keep things within reach and at eye level that you want the child to have access to.  This lets them know what is available to play with and it also makes it easier to help clean up.  Toys or clothing that you want them to use only at certain times or with supervision should be put out of reach. 

7) Establish a routine.  Set aside 15 minutes a day to "tidy" up.  Schedule twice a week to vacum and dust. Once a week to clean toys.  Most childhood viruses are spread from contact with dirty toys.  All plastic toys can be put in a plastic tub with warm water & a few cap fulls of bleach, wiped off and then laid out to dry. Large toys can be wiped with disinfecting wipes.  Once a month stuffed animals need to be washed and hung to dry or sooner if they are heavily soiled.  Remember younger children put almost everything in their mouth.  Twice a month change bedding.  Once a week is preferred but twice a month is sufficient unless the bedding is soiled or the child has been sick.  Clean all bedding immediately if soiled and/or sick. 

8) Involve your child.  Having a child help and participate in cleaning and caring for their room is what will teach a child how to clean and care for their room as they grow.

9) Don't leave empty space under the bed!  Put large plastic containers under the bed with seasonal clothing or with large sorted toys.  Otherwise the space under the bed becomes a magnet for all things the child does not want to put away.  Out of sight out of mind.  Help your child learn to put things back where they belong by limiting places to hide & easily stash their items.

10) Stick with it! Once you have everything sorted, cleaned and in it's place you are not done.  Sticking with the routine and plan is key to making a tidy and organized room a success.  If you ignore even the cleanest most organized room for weeks then it can become an overwhelming task for everyone.  A few minutes a day really is all it takes and setting aside a time when you first get in for the day or 15 minutes before bath time will help everyone stay more organized and feel more at peace with their space.

Enjoy your beautiful new rooms and have fun with your kids. :)

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