Helping kids to organize is rough. Often times, kids rooms are small, they’re messy and I always want to find cheap ways to do it (since they might trash it). I have one giant tip that made all the difference at our house.
Helping Kids Organize
Kids have the same organization issues that you and I have.
- They want to keep things that see irrational, but totally rational to them
- They have a lot of things, many of which are small.
- They are lazy, and don’t want to do hard things.
Honestly — think about it. These are my issues too.
But, #1 is my hardest with my kids.
A rock? You want to keep a rock? Why? Let’s put it outside.
You really need to keep this Thomas the Tank Engine Ping Pong Ball? Why? I never see you use it….
To you and me — it’s insane, but let’s turn it around on me.
You really need enough washi for TWO containers… and I’ve seen you buy more recently. That’s just insane. No one needs that much washi.
But, my friends — it turns out that some people do. Like me. 🙂
SO, when my kids were little I set out to create something that allowed them to have their things that they thought were important, while still keeping things organized.
BTW, if you’re looking to help your kids create systems that work for BOTH of you — this course changed my thinking entirely.
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How to organize kids room when it is small
This was most certainly our problem. We had 3 kids in one room in our 1100 square foot house. They didn’t have a lot of space that was their own, but I felt like it was important that they felt like they had some personal space.
How to organize a kid’s messy room
The thing is that a LOT of the mess fits into this category. Or, easily fixed categories, like dirty clothes, or crayons and pencils that have an obvious home.
Anyway — back to my tip…
Helping kids organize their room
For us, it’s called a special drawer. And it is 100% meant for the minutia that you and I think they should just chuck.
When I think it needs to be thrown away (because I, the homeowner, see no value in it) — it can either:
- Be thrown away (and it’s important to show kids that’s an important skill, to learn to throw things away — or recycle, or send to a thrift store)
- Be put in the special drawers.
Now, the special drawer has some qualifications.
- You pick the size
- The items in the drawer need to fit the confines of the drawer
SO, every few weeks you are going to have to sit with your kid and help them throw things away.
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Helping kids learn to throw things away
For me, I have a simple process. I kind of “eyeball” the drawer and decide the ratio — but we usually do a “save one/throw one” rule.
So — here’s how the process goes:
- Dump the drawer out on the floor (great to do this on a day you’re going to vacuum as a lot of the things tend to leave trails of glory, or glitter, behind).
- Bring a trash can close by so it’s easy to use (btw, I mention this step in my 5-Word Organization Challenge — but making the pathway to organization as easy as possible is a SMART move).
- Then, for everything they put BACK into the drawer, they have to put something in the garbage.
At first, this is easy. As things have sat in the drawer longer, they start to see how useless it is, and easily get rid of some items.
It does start to get harder as they have to get rid of some precious items.
Sometimes for the last 5, I say they can just keep them all and we move on. But, sometimes I make them keep one, throw one til’ the bitter end. Most of that depends on how much room is in the drawer.
Sometimes we do throw one, keep two. Or throw two keep one.
And by doing this (even though it can be painful) you are showing kids a VERY important skill.
To prioritize what’s important to them. Because they will never be able to keep all the things.
And because it’s this lame special drawer, it doesn’t really matter to you, and it keeps you from FREAKING OUT about the Thomas the Tank Engine ping pong ball. Instead, they can just toss it in the special drawer, and you all move on.
Cleaning your Room with Kids
The hardest part of cleaning up an area, is when each thing doesn’t have a home. And the things in the special drawer are the things MOST likely not to have a home.
So, by having a special drawer to put those items in (or in the garbage, and the more kids clean out the special drawer, the more likely they are to not put things in their special drawer) it does make it easier to clean-up.
Cheap ways to organize a child’s room
I would guess 95% of my kid’s organizing stuff comes from Goodwill at our house. I don’t tend to want to spend a lot of time/money/effort on cutesy bins.
I mostly want something
- Easy to keep clean (not many cracks — aka, no woven baskets)
- Something that fits the space
I’ve used a couple of different things for special drawers. When they were all in one room I had a set of Sterilite drawers and they each had their own. They fit well into a nook of the room
For my daughter, right now, she has a bin on a bookshelf. I was careful to put it on a shelf that isn’t much higher than the bin so that she wasn’t able to fill it to overflowing.
As my kids have gotten older, this has turned more into a memory bin of things they just wanted to keep. Now, it’s kind of fun to go through it and see what they thought was important.
So, there you go — the special drawer. it’s a great way to keep things organized and teach your kids valuable skills that will serve them the rest of their life.
If you liked this post — be sure to check out The Organized Home — it’s like me, sitting by you helping to make the hard choices of organizing. We’ll do it together! And don’t forget you can save 10% with code PC10.
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If you’re not sure you’re ready for the full course, try my organization challenge (and check out my other organizing & parenting posts below that):