Unless you have one of those preternaturally tidy young children we have occasionally heard about but still are not convinced exist, you could probably use some help limiting the mess in their room. And while we can’t make your child clean up after themselves, we do have a few organizational tips that can help make the work easier for them—and by association, you.
Use slim, non-slip hangers
One way to safeguard against your kid lifting up every item of clothing from its folded position to remind themselves what it looks like before they decide not to wear it is to make sure it’s all visible. Instead of folding, hang stuff up—and use slim, kid-sized hangers, which take up less space than traditional hangers. Get the kind with the velvety texture designed to keep clothes from slipping off, reducing the amount of sweaters and dresses precariously hanging by one shoulder ready to drop at the slightest jostling.
Closet doubler rods will create more hanging space and put rods at your child’s eye level, allowing them to hang more of their own clothes up themselves, and feel quite capable in the process.
Use a hanging shoe organizer
Speaking of pulling double duty, we all know the usefulness of a plastic over the door hanging organizer for shoes—but have you tried using one for other odds and ends? Turns out those pint-sized pockets are amazing keepers of underwear, socks, brushes, lotions, diapers, Barbie dolls, Matchbox cars, scrunchies, and all manner of other
crap precious trinkets your child hoards on every surface in their room. (And while we’re on the subject of repurposing old items in new ways, do yourself a favor and check out this wine box divider hack.)
Boxes and bins; bins and boxes
Two words: storage bins. Whether you get the stackable kind that fit on top of each other or enlist the aid of a cube storage organizer, storage bins are every parent’s best friend. Ideally, your child can grab a bin and walk around their room (or the house) picking up the relevant items to be tossed into that bin. Provided they are all clearly labeled, which they should be. While some may be for sheets, shoes, or sports equipment not currently in use, they can also be used for your child’s everyday clothes—which brings us to our next point.
Have you considered not folding anything?
Ok, not anything (t-shirts would kind of be a disaster). But certain things—like PJs, shorts, tights, and bathing suits—can probably be thrown in a labeled bin instead, right? We’re not saying chuck things in in massive balls, but certain items wouldn’t suffer much from, let’s say, an easing of your folding standards. While it will cause a few more wrinkles, it will save you—and your child—loads of time. (And the point is to get them to do as much of the work as possible, right?)
Install pegboard and hooks
Pegboards aren’t just for tools anymore. Installing one on the back wall of your kid’s closet can provide as a space to hang ball caps, necklaces, stuffed animals, headbands, and anything else small and light enough to be fit on a metal hook. For an even nicer look, take the pegboard outside and paint it to match the room (or buy it white to avoid the drab cardboard color). Speaking of hooks, help your child clear floor space with decorative wall hooks to hang robes, sweatshirts, belts, hats, and bags.
Get down on your child’s level
When considering your kid’s closet and room organization, author, designer and blogger Sarah Symonds reminds parents to “think on their level” and organize with your child’s height and interests in mind. Think strategically about what they need regular access to, and where it will be easiest for them to put those things away. Put things they don’t use regularly, or are out of season, on top shelves or higher hooks; keep clothes and toys they use daily or weekly at eye level or below. Or…
Nix the toys altogether
Depending on your child’s age, it may make sense to rid their room of toys altogether (besides a few favorite stuffed animal friends, of course). I can’t speak for all kids, but mine never wanted to play alone in their rooms until they were 7 or 8—and even then, not often. While they’re still young, take advantage of their desire to be around others and move the toys to common areas where you can help manage them.
Granted, it’s a double-edged sword, choosing to keep all the toys in a downstairs common room or the basement. There’s going to be a lot of overflow to the kitchen, for one thing. But at least you’ll know what messes lie ahead rather than going upstairs at the end of the day only to find a colossal Lego explosion right before bedtime.