…and everything it its place. That’s how the saying goes, and it makes total sense to me.
As our family has grown to having three children, so has the influx of ‘stuff’ into our house. Before having children, when I look back I was quite a house-proud person and most of the time found it fairly straightforward to keep the house tidy and in order. Fortunately, my husband was made from a similar mould and is naturally tidy, too.
However since the number of people living at home has expanded, it has become more of a challenge to maintain order, partly because each of our little people have a certain quantity of clothes and toys, and also because they often seem intent on causing mass destruction to the order of our home. Honestly, it has to be seen to be believed just how much chaos three little people can wreak in a very short space of time.
Anyway, the problem was easily identified, what strategies can we apply to resolve it?
Declutter regularly, especially before Christmas and birthdays:
Making some time to regularly go through your home to declutter is important. Just before Christmas and birthdays are particularly pertinent times to do so, as an influx of even more ‘stuff’ is likely to occur on such special occasions. See my post about decluttering here.
When kids have piles upon piles of toys, it can stop them appreciating (or even noticing) all that they have. We have had success with tucking away some birthday and Christmas gifts in high cupboards, allowing the kids to play with the toys left available to them, then periodically changing which toys are hidden away and which ones left out. Even if they are disappointed to temporarily ‘lose’ particular toys, this is usually overshadowed by the joy of being presented with ‘new’ ones. Of course, it’s best to make the child’s absolute favourite toys that they are attached to available permanently.
Ask family for specific or ‘experience’ gifts:
When Christmas or birthdays approach, relatives often ask if there is anything in particular the kids would like. This is a great opportunity to take stock of what they might really like to be given (it will lighten the load of what you have to buy for them, too). Give them the details of which toys, clothes, books etc would be appreciated with details of where to buy from if necessary.
Another good idea is to ask for ‘experience’ type gifts rather than physical items. Examples of these could be local zoo membership, or classes to something the child particularly enjoys such as gymnastics. This will reduce the amount of things in your home to have to store.
So, once you have decluttered and so pared back your family’s personal possessions to a more manageable quantity, you can set about reviewing your current storage arrangements. Cast a critical eye over cupboards, shelves and other storage spaces. Is the space adequate? Could it be moved to a more logical place? If storage is is intended for kids, are they able to reach and access it themselves?
When you are happy with the storage places, it is time to give them the best possible chance of staying organised. My secret to this is simple yet effective: labelling.
It was my husband who first introduced me to the humble labelling machine. At first, I though it was a little geeky to be honest, but once I saw the possibilities for helping to keep our home tidy I was won over by it. In case you’ve never seen once before, its a small handheld device which you type words into and can then print off a peelable sticker and apply directly onto the surface to be labelled.
You can see below a couple of examples of areas that have been labelled. The first pic is the back of the understairs cupboard door, where hooks at the kids’ height are labelled ‘winter coats’, ‘bags’ and ‘jackets’. For even younger kids who can’t read, you could take photos of the relevant items to print off for them to identify instead. the second pic is a section of one of my kitchen cupboards, where I used old mushroom containers from the supermarket to store small items then labelled them clearly. Doing this makes stuff more accessible and more likely to be used, too, for example photo albums. We have labelled the spines of our photo albums so can clearly see which holidays etc they relate to so are more likely to pull it out and enjoy looking through.
I hope some of these tips were useful to you. If you’re interested in buying a label machine, they are available in office supplies store plus on Amazon.
In my next post I will go into detail about how to declutter your home, sharing the methods that work best for me.
I would love to hear any home organisation tips that you have to share, too.