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Helping Kids Do It Themselves

Organizing is something that many people are born with, yet those who aren't need not despair. Organizing is a LEARNED SKILL and one that kids and adults alike can pick up at any time. Here are some ways to organize a kid's room, and teach the principles of organizing at the same time.

If the child has a lot of stuffed animals that he/she has outgrown -- but just isn't ready to part with yet -- use a HAMMOCK or a net that hangs way up in the corner of the ceiling. The toys can be put up there and they can still be seen but they are out of the way.

Kids can organize their toys by category (cars and trucks together, dolls together, specific types of games together, etc) in big bins or baskets. If the child can read, LABEL the bins to help them remember which bins are for which category. LIDS are usually too much for kids to deal with, so get containers without lids, or store the lids elsewhere for when the kids aren't using the bins anymore.

Set up "zones" in the room for DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES -- art and craft zone, reading zone, puzzle zone, and a large play area to play with blocks and whatnot. Get the appropriate TOOLS for each zone, such tables for the child to work at in the art and craft zone, shelves for puzzles and games in that zone, and a comfy chair and a bookshelf in the reading zone.

Because kids need a good amount of floor space to play in, use the WALL SPACE for storage. Hanging sturdy shelves or wall bins at a height that can be reached by the kids, clear plastic wall pockets, or stacked milk crates work well for kids to do their own organizing. Container Store is great for shelves if you have one in your area. Their Elfa shelving system is totally ADJUSTABLE, so when the kids grow taller, just snap out the shelves, and snap them in higher up on the tracks! It's the only shelving system I use with my clients, and I love it.

Teach kids the benefit of CONTAINERIZING items by category or by the activity that required -- for example, things you build, things you read, things to draw with/on, or toys with wheels. Teach them how organizing makes their things easier to find. So much of what we call clutter is just stuff that has no home, and even kids can ASSIGN homes to all their stuff and be taught how to put things away when they're finished.

For kids clothing, install shelving in their closets that they can reach and use lots of hooks and HANGING SPACE. If kids clothes are in a folded pile or in a drawer, they are more likely to just wear what's on top, rather than looking through the pile, so hang as much as possible.

Hang a clothesline along one wall of the child's room, a few feet down from ceiling level, and use CLOTHESPINS to display artwork that kids bring home from school. Once it's been displayed, if the child can't part with it, use clear UNDERBED containers for longer-term storage.

Kids can be taught organizing concepts and TACTICS, which will serve them well through school and into their adult years. And who knows -- with their creative little minds working, you might learn something new about organizing from them!


Monica Ricci is a professional organizer, speaker, and writer.

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