How to Organize Kids' Clutter

Kids and clutter go hand in hand. Children have a way of creating chaos with their belongings. Clutter can be eliminated and contained with some easy organizational tips.

Organizing Smaller Toys

Just about every parent has experienced stepping on a small but very painful toy. Legos, blocks and small cars are often found strewn about. These, along with Barbie clothes and accessories, can be difficult to contain. Dumping these into large buckets won't work. You can keep smaller toys organized a number of ways.

One method is to store them in smaller plastic containers that are labeled. If your child can't read, take a picture of some of the items and attach the picture to the outside of the box. This keeps Barbie clothes in one box, blocks in another and so on.

You can also store smaller toys in shoe boxes. They stack easily on top of one another and can be kept out of sight in a closet or cabinet.

Another idea is to use a clear, plastic shoe rack. These hang on the backs of doors and contain a number of pockets where smaller toys can be stored. The clear pockets allow your child to easily see what is inside the pocket.

For an economical and eco-friendly storage option, hold onto gallon ice cream containers or smaller plastic containers (such as those that hold sour cream or cream cheese). These can be washed and used to store small items. Use a Sharpie marker to clearly label the outside of containers.

Organizing Larger Toys

Larger toys can be stored in large tubs or plastic containers. Toys like train sets, car tracks, sports equipment, dolls and larger sets of blocks work well with these types of containers.

Organizing Seasonal Toys

Some toys are only brought out during particular seasons. Under-the-bed plastic containers and boxes work great for these. Beach gear, Frisbees and roller skates can be stored under the bed during the winter months. During the summer months you can store ice skates, hockey sticks and other gear.

Organizing Papers

Nothing seems to multiply more than paper. Between schoolwork and drawings, papers can overtake a room. One way to tackle that problem is to put together a school and artwork binder. These are separate binders that are filled with clear page protectors.

Schoolwork that you want to save can be slipped into the page protectors. Label the binder with your child's name, grade and year. Over time you will have a wonderful collection of binders that is fun to go back and look at. One day these binders can be passed on to your children.

Label another binder for artwork, writing your child's name and age. Keep pictures that your child has painted or drawn inside page protectors. You have yet another treasury of keepsakes.

Papers can also be kept in boxes or plastic containers and then every-so-often you and your child can go through it, keeping special papers and throwing away/recycling the rest.

Another fun idea, in order to display your child's artwork, is to run a rope across the room. You can then use clothespins to hang your child's artwork on the rope.

Organizing Outdoor Toys

Toys that you want kept outdoors can be stored in a container, laundry hamper or basket near the back door. This keeps them in one spot and children can easily find and access their outdoor toys.

Organizing with Hooks and Pegs

Hooks and pegs can hold more than just jackets and backpacks. Utilizing hooks and pegs in a bedroom or playroom can eliminate a lot of clutter. You can hang dress-up clothes, hats, jewelry, and belts. Another idea is to fill tote bags with items and hang those up.

Organizing with Shelves

Shelves are a great way to store the boxes that hold items, along with books and other items. Children who create things out of Legos, K'NEX or other building materials often have nowhere to put them, so they end up on the floor, at risk of getting broken. Arrange to keep a shelf or two empty so that your child's creations can be kept safe on a shelf and off the floor.

Shelving is a practical and aesthetically pleasing way to display personal items, such as trophies, books, pictures and other knick-knacks.

Other Organizing Tips

Toy hammocks are a great way to keep toys off the floor. These attach to the wall and can hold stuffed animals or dolls.

Tackle boxes are great for organizing very small items like marbles, beads and jewelry.

Board games can take up a lot of space, with pieces from them often getting lost. To save space, toss the boxes that the board games come in. Simply pile up the boards and then put the game pieces into plastic zippered bags, labeled with the name of the game they go to.

For moms that are really into organization, here's a method to cope with storing puzzles and preventing lost pieces. Each time you get a new puzzle set, write the same number on the back of each puzzle piece. For instance, one puzzle set would have the number 1 written on each puzzle piece and then placed in a plastic, zippered bag that is labeled with the number 1. The next puzzle set would have the number 2, and so on. This way, if the puzzles become mixed up, you can easily sort them by number. You could also do this by color-code.

Baskets are a great organizational tool for holding books, magazines and coloring books. Your child can easily carry their basket of reading materials to one spot and pick from the basket.

Once-a-month or so it's a good idea to go through your child's room and help them sort through things. This is a good time to get rid of toys that are no longer played with or are broken. Toss what is broken and give away what your child no longer plays with.

If you instill this habit in your child early on, they will be learning valuable organizational skills. Before you know it, your child has discovered new and imaginative ways of keeping the clutter out and their room organized.