I’m sure you’ve noticed that the stores we shopped at for holiday gifts have replaced the stocking and wrapping paper with rows and rows of plastic containers. This seems to imply we have so much stuff – we need to buy more stuff – to put our stuff in. The good news is, with all this plastic for sale, its a great time to organize our kids ‘stuff’.
When our kids were young, we spent some time before the holidays cleaning out the old to make room for the new. Together we decided what was old, broken and ready for the trash. We reorganized and tidied up the keepers and donated some old toys as seed for the new to come. This year I enjoyed watching my daughter make a trip to the local Target store, as a mom in search of fresh plastic containers and baskets. Later when her son was busy with grandpa, she dug into the clutter of toys in his room to sort and organize. After several hours, she reappeared with a trash bag of broken pieces and a gleam of satisfaction in her eyes. Later that day, much to his delight, she took him to his room and reintroduced him to the shelves and baskets that held his favorite toys.
These are some of the things I think about when organizing for kids, or myself:
Prepare the environment. That’s a Montessori principle that reflects a very mainstream concept. It’s about getting things ready in the room before the activity begins. To get started, look at the structure of the room, the furniture, the way the room is used and consider ways to make it more effective.
Shelves, Baskets and Boxes are your friends. Toyboxes are the worst place to store toys. A bunch of toys piled into a large dark space can mean nothing but chaos. Parts get lost, kids get overwhelmed and they can’t even see what they have to play with. To create order and a more successful play space, put up a few shelves. Be sure they’re at a comfortable height for your child. Place toys and play sets in baskets and boxes to help make choices visible and keep pieces together.
Encourage Cleanup and Consistency. Now that you’ve created an organized space, be sure to teach your child how to use it and maintain it. Encourage one toy or activity at a time, be sure they know how to put things back before starting something new, and be the one to help maintain the order. Kids really do appreciate structure, and can operate more successfully, but they’re still kids. Be sure to be encouraging, keep it positive and make it fun.
Tell us some of the ways you and your kids do some organizing?