Curtailing Kiddie Clutter - A Professional’s Guide
Hi! I am Beverley. I was one seriously organised woman. Few things came more naturally to me than organising. Lists, details, research, schedules and planning - this is my DNA. That was until my son Nathan came along 9 years ago and I experienced what chaos was for the first time! Unstructured crazy parenthood was particularly challenging. Every day I was meeting women who shared similar experiences.
Wanting to do something more meaningful with my life, six years ago I gave up my corporate gig as an analyst and became a Professional Organiser. I have a particular passion for helping other mums navigate through the chaos and clutter that can so easily overwhelm us.
Spring is the BEST time to get motivated and organised around the house. If this is on your to-do list then let me give you some of my top tips to make the most of the process.
Step 1: Declutter
The less stuff you have, the less you need to maintain, clean, and store. Only work on ONE area at a time, and take action as soon as possible (take the ‘Donate’ items to the charity shop, return borrowed items, and put things back where they belong) otherwise it’s all still clutter.
Step 2: Organise
Now that we have got rid of the unnecessary stuff, we can organise what remains. My Top 3 Tips for Organising are:
Tip #1: A place for everything and everything in its place
Create designated homes for items, using drawer or shelf dividers to delineate zones with specific functions. Then use age-appropriate labels. This helps maintain order by avoiding things being 'dumped' just anywhere, and makes finding and returning things much easier too. Teaching your kids that everything has a special ‘home’ where it belongs also helps them learn to respect their belongings.
Tip #2: File, don’t pile
Store boxes of games and puzzles vertically on a bookshelf or in a storage box – this makes the boxes much easier to access, rather than trying to pull something out from the bottom of the pile. (You may need to use a large rubber band or some masking tape to keep the box closed and all the pieces safely contained.)
Tip #3: Rotate the toys
You don’t need to have ALL the toys, books and games available ALL the time. Store them in a few large plastic tubs or crates, and only have one tub accessible at a time, while the others are stored away (in the garage or at the top of your wardrobe etc). Rotating the tubs monthly or quarterly means there are fewer toys to manage, sort and tidy up at any given time. And the added benefit of keeping the kids engaged with “new” stuff to play with when the tubs rotate.
Step 3: Maintain
This will require ongoing maintenance, so involve your kids from an early age – as soon as they can walk they should be learning to pack things away. Make it a game appropriate for their age, for example – a toddler can play a ‘matching game’ to put the toys into the box with the matching picture label, a pre-schooler can play a ‘5 minute tidy up game’ where they have to race against the clock to see how much they can do in the 5 minutes before dinner or bath time, and so on.
Some final words of encouragement…
Don’t be afraid of trial and error when setting up new systems and routines – it may take a few tries to find what works best for your family. Be realistic with your expectations, and be patient as you teach your little ones these incredibly valuable life skills. Trust me – this investment of time and effort now will pay big dividends as they grow up!
Beverley is a Professional Organiser, author, and founder of Home And Life Organising – offering personalised hands-on organising sessions in Melbourne and Sydney, to help busy families to clear the clutter and chaos, and enjoy more space, calm and order. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.