get a handle on it
get a handle on it
Your kids cannot
put things away
if there is no
place for the stuff
to go. Work with
your children to
make it fun!
BRING THE CHILD INTO THE PROCESS
Resist the urge to wade into the mess alone. Make it a
learning experience. Become your child’s consultant,
guide, mentor, and partner regarding the science of
organization. Children definitely follow your lead. They
look up to you, and they assess what behavior you are
modeling. They do as you do. Teach your children
organizational skills and maintenance methods and
above all, inculcate them with the knowledge that
cleanliness is next to Godliness. If they are involved in
the effort, they are better able to comprehend the logic of
maintaining an organized and neat room. The more
involved the kids feel in the process, the more dedicated
they will be to keeping their space and their place tidy.
TAKE A CHILD’S-EYE VIEW
Get down into your child’s mind and look at his room
from his perspective. The view may astound you. It’s a
miniature version of your room - the operative word
being miniature. Adult furniture and organizing systems
do not translate well to children’s needs. Bring it all
down to your child’s level. Lower closet rods, and invest
in child-size hangers. Colorful and uniform hangers
make the closet a pleasure to look at and will encourage
the child to want to keep it orderly. (Get rid of those
unsightly dry cleaner-style hangers.)
USE FLOOR-LEVEL CONTAINERS TO HOLD
Kids are Mother Nature’s original hoarders. They prize
every piece of junk and treat it as a precious heirloom to
cherish and to keep forever. Where do they keep these
treasures? In their rooms! Certificates, fair trophies,
school event handouts, behavior stars, Midos awards, and
arcade prizes going back to nursery school - they have
them all. I’ve come up with a simple, yet effective plan.
Give each child a medium-size container and let them fill
it to the brim with their personal valuables and knickknacks. When the container is full and they decide they
want to add another trinket, they must first remove items
from the container to make room. This is a good way to
control the clutter, keep inventory, and dispose of what
they no longer want to keep.
Have a laundry hamper, specifically for your child, in
the room, so that dirty clothes are immediately placed in
the hamper and not stuffed under the pillow.
ORGANIZE BOTTOM TO TOP
A well-organized children’s room offers two benefits:
kids can find what they are looking for, and the room is a
pleasure to look at because everything is neatly placed.
Befitting a child’s shorter stature, start organizing
library? Take a huge container (or even a black garbage
bag) and place a selection of toys in the “library.” Store
the container in an out-of-the-way place for a few
months. Then, one day, reintroduce these stored
playthings. Swap them. It’ll be like getting an entire
batch of new toys, and your kids will be thrilled to see
their “old friends.” This eliminates clutter, and the
toys won’t be under foot in the room. The success of
this simple rotation system is incredible.
Use different containers for different toys: cars,
stuffed animals, dolls, building blocks, farm sets, etc.
This way, you can control how many boxes are out at one
time. “When you put away your Legos, you can take out
One primary rule to remember: make it easier to put
away and more difficult to get out. This makes the cleanup activity more appealing.
SECRET STORAGE SPACES
You’d be amazed at how much space is available for
extra storage. You just have to know where to look for
them. A little enterprising effort and you can create
space in an area where you thought there was none.
GET THE MAXI FOR YOUR MINI
from the bottom of the room and work up to the top.
Most-used toys and belongings should live on lower
shelves, in lower drawers, or on the floor. Higher levels
are designated for less frequently used possessions.
Working bottom to top, the best-loved teddy bear sits
in a small rocker on the floor, while the extensive Beanie
Baby collection is displayed on a shelf six feet up the
And don’t forget to label, label, label!
AFTER A YEAR, CLEAR
Teach children the one-year rule: If you haven’t used it
in 12 months, chances are you never will. Throw it out,
donate it to charity, sell it on eBay, or do whatever works
SELECT SEPARATE, STOW
Kids’ rooms are usually small and often shared. Kids
can’t stay organized when a closet is crammed, when the
drawers are stuffed, and when their playthings cover
each square inch of carpet.
TO CLEAN THE ROOM, YOU HAVE TO MAKE
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often
this glaringly obvious fact is overlooked. Your kids
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cannot put things away if there is no place for the stuff
to go. Work with your children to choose funky shelves,
cubbies, bookcases, and storage boxes. Make it functional, and make it fun!
Let’s start by sorting the clothing. Out-of-season and
outgrown clothing does not belong in the room - move
Empty the dresser and the closet, and start from
scratch. Separate shorts and long pants, Shabbos outfits,
and everyday clothing. Long-sleeved shirts/blouses hang
together, and short-sleeved ones are in a separate
Use dividers in sock drawers so that tube socks,
anklets, knee socks, tights, etc., are in individual
compartments. This way, kids won’t unfold seven pairs
of tube socks until they find the specific pair of socks
Most kids’ dressers and night tables are filled with
sundry items that probably don’t belong there (reminiscent of your kitchen drawer shamble before straightening it out). Go through each item, and ask your children
if this adds to the aesthetic beauty of the room. If it isn’t
pleasing to the eye, it should be placed in a memory box
or toy box. Display beautiful items such as artwork,
projects, and paintings that your child created.
Did you ever consider the option of creating a toy
Put bins under the bed.
Hang racks over the door.
Shoe bags over the door - ready-made storage space.
Get a headboard with compartments.
Sling a bag between the mattress and box spring for
easy-to-reach favorite items.
Mount shelves on empty wall space.
BUILD A MAINTENANCE ROUTINE
The typical and standard approach to room cleaning can
exasperate, irritate, and frustrate children. This can be a
breeding ground for tantrums. Children start off in a
neat, clean room, they play, and suddenly, their room is
an awful mess. Help children stop the vexing cycle by
building maintenance routines into the family’s day.
MORNING PICKUP: Child straightens the comforter,
returns the pillow to the bed, and places yesterday’s
clothing into the laundry hamper.
EVENING PICKUP: Precedes dressing for bed and
involves putting away the day’s toys.
Building routines into the family’s schedule will prevent
disorder and disarray from becoming overwhelming. fyi
Reva Lieberman is court stenographer turned professional organizer. She's had a passion for organizing as long as she can
remember. Reva provides services in Brooklyn, Queens and The
Five Towns. 347-909-0900
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