Sunday, June 5, 2016

Practical Ways to Organise Kids’ Stuff: What should be out, what should be not! (Practical Mondays #16)

I’m writing about organising Kid’s stuff being fully aware that my son’s room right now is littered with Lightning McQueen, Thomas & Percy on the carpet, an unfinished Lion King puzzle in one corner, and paints and brushes on his desk from the fish in the ocean art project last evening. The only time everything is absolutely clean and in order, are that those 10 minutes between my loving maid leaving and my son arriving from school!

But creative mess is better than idle neatness. And neat doesn’t necessarily mean uncluttered! So while I look at mess as a fantastic sign of an active mind and time enjoyed (I know that he will complete the puzzle today!) I try not to lose focus on what’s more important: displaying & storing my kid’s stuff.

Having “all” toys out is likely to overstimulate and makes it difficult for children to pick and chose what they want to do, or stick with it for a while without distractions. Many toys go unnoticed for days because children develop a blind spot for them. It’s best to keep most toys in inaccessible shelves or in cupboards while displaying a few (including the most favourite ones) outside.

Two principles that help with displaying Kid’s Stuff:

  1. Accessibility, i.e. their stuff displayed at their height! Because it’s their stuff! They should be independent and should be able to choose, pick out & put back their own things.

  1. Less is more! Less toys= more time devoted to each toy= less mess= balanced stimulation. So other than regular clothes, books & toys, the others should be out of reach & out of sight.

The Practical Mom: Practical Ways to Organise Kids’ Stuff: What should be out, what should be not! (Practical Mondays #16)

But we first need to *remove* items that we have no need for. Stuff that we have sentimental value for. Like the big cardboard box of cassette tapes that I lugged around every time I moved houses, the most part of the 00’s. It was only when I had completely moved on to iPods, iPads and bluetooth players that I realised those cassettes have to be done with, because there was no chance I was going back to buying a cassette player!

Those cassette tapes are the perfect “tangible” example of baggage that needs to be decluttered from our lives. So let’s begin with looking at every item in our children’s room to see if it’s a potential cassette tape!

do you have a ‘cassette player’ for a onesie meant for a 3 months old ?
(i.e. if you don’t plan to have any more children, can your 3 year old 
really squeeze into it?)

do you have a ‘cassette player’ for wooden pegged alphabet puzzles? 
(i.e. will you child forget all his ABCs and will need to use it again when
 he’s 14 years old?)

do you have a ‘cassette player’ for old dried up play dough lying in
 those 17 tightly closed tubs? 
(i.e do you have hopes that google will spit out excellent search results
 of what to do with 17 month old dried up dough?)

The Practical Mom: Practical Ways to Organise Kids’ Stuff: What should be out, what should be not! (Practical Mondays #16)

Displaying Kids’ Artwork

For little children, the *only* type of art is process art, where they are thoroughly immersed in the process and don’t care about the outcome. Which basically means, they may start with “making an ocean with fish in it” but end up with “rockets in the ocean” which actually look like “houses in the sky” or “three blobs dancing in a mist”, who knows! Unlike learning the alphabet, where an English alphabet must not look like a Gujarati number, art is a reflection of imagination.

We display some art projects on the wall of his play room. It does wonders to his confidence and gives importance to art.

The others are TRASHED every few weeks (when he isn’t home, obviously!). We had ridiculous heaps and heaps of artwork that had to be stuffed into several garbage bags before disposing off. Out of which one bag contained only sheets of shaving cream painting, one had sheets and sheets of spray painting and one had stickers all over them! 

You really want to keep them as memories? Take pictures! And take a deep breath, and throw! You still love your children and they still love you!

Displaying Kids’ Books

I keep all children’s books on the bookshelves, and choose & rotate five  on the nightstand, for our daily twenty minutes reading routine.

The bookshelves are sorted according to encyclopaedias, large picture books, chapter books, second language books, activity books & early reading. 

The main idea behind it is to pick 1 book of each type every night. So instead of picking out 3 chapter books in a hurry (and begging him to “stop! I can’t read anymore! This cannot be happening!”) I choose 1 picture book, 1 encyclopaedia, 1 second language book and 1 book that helps practice sight words & word building.

This system works, since it not only limits reading time to 20 minutes a day (phew!), but makes finding and choosing books super easy, even for my son.

Displaying Kids’ Toys

Practical Mom is all about keeping kids busy with *non-toy* options. There is a whole different world in which children can immerse themselves in, without having the need to step into a toy store (okay maybe for birthdays and Christmas!)

For e.g. for us, a toy is a busy bag with a punch and strips of papers with different numbers written on each. The way he ‘plays’ with it is punching nine holes in the strip with the number nine on it. Let’s not get into the benefits of sharpening fine motor skills and practising numbers and all that, since that isn’t the primary goal here. It’s great if he learns, it’s fine of he doesn’t. But the idea is that he loves playing the game, and all you needed to make this ‘toy’ was a punch, strips of papers and a pen!

I keep all elements such ‘toys’ (i.e. punch + strips of paper) together in little zipper baggies, and display them on shelves. Unless it’s a new game, he usually knows what to do. He pulls out a bag, plays with it and keeps it back when he’s done (the last part however is in theory only!).

Displaying Kids’ Clothes

Clothes are divided into “indoor”, “outdoor” and “out of season”. The indoor clothes are at his level, so he can change into them after school, and at bedtime on his own. He chooses whatever he wants to wear, and since it’s indoors, mismatching, or wearing a minions shirt 4 days a week is not a problem. 


While cassette tapes are be discarded and given away ASAP, books, toys & clothes are an immensely useful resource that should be reused! Not just  for future children but some things could be useful even the same child. 

For e.g. some picture books for babies can be reused 3 years later when he starts reading words. Read aloud books for 3 year olds can be used later for reading by himself when he’s 8.

You can make use of a new storage service called MakeSpace that can store anything you need and bring it back to you through the use of their app or website. They have a a ton of decluttering tips throughout their website and check out their growing self storage locations as they continue to expand throughout this year!

The Practical Mom: Practical Ways to Organise Kids’ Stuff: What should be out, what should be not! (Practical Mondays #16)

Homeschool Rooms worth a peek from previous Practical Mondays 

The Practical Mom: Practical Ways to Organise Kids’ Stuff: What should be out, what should be not! (Practical Mondays #16)

Do you wonder what learning activities to put on the shelves for your 2½ year old? Deb Chitwood of Living Montessori Now prefers placing selected books in a basket next to a comfortable armchair rather than on the shelf. 

Head over to Teacher Mom Plus 3 to see the lovely moon clock she  made with her kids which is hung in her breezy, roomy, homeschool room complete with solar system, maps & white boards!

Have a look at An Upstream Life to see how a good color can brighten up a room.

Practical Mondays Link Up
For posts on Kids Activities, Homeschooling, Parenting, Books, Travels & Expat Life
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Practical Mondays Link Up posts on Kids activities, Homeschooling, Parenting, Books, Travels & Expat Life

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  1. Thanks and a Blessed Week to You!

    1. Thank you so much, blessed week to you too!

  2. You shared some wonderful tips. Organizing is something I love but have such a hard time letting things go :(. Thanks for the feature have a wonderful week!

    1. I don't! I've stopped being attached to thing and probably thats a good thing,haha. Thanks for joining !

  3. I am an organizational fiend! My kids' playroom had bins with words and pictures so they knew where their toys went; their bookshelves were filled with baskets of books that faced out so they could see the pictures and titles. We rotated toys out and only had a few out at a time so they often had "new" toys to excite them. I still kept more of their artwork than I probably should have (even with taking pictures) but found an art portfolio to keep them all in.

    1. You ARE an organisational fiend! Excellent!

  4. I love the little chart that can be used to determine what to do with an item. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you declutter, so having a chart to look at is so useful!


  5. I love the does it bring me joy part. I've been culling massively - I took photos of baby clothes I couldn't bear to part with and then sent them off to the women's refuge. So win/win all round. I'm currently selling stuff on ebay, giving it away on the fence and boxing it up for charity. It's sooooooooo much stuff!

    1. Fantastic! I've taken so many pictures that I have to declutter my folders from time to time! Thanks for joining Lydia!

  6. Thanks for all the useful organization tips, Swapna! And thanks for featuring my book baskets! I pinned your post to my Organization and Preparation Pinterest Board. :)

    1. I loved the idea ! I think I may be shifting his selected bedside book stash to a basket too!

      Thank you Deb :)

  7. I love that flow chart - definitely pinning so I can find it easily when I need it!

  8. This is such a great post! I love the "Less is More" policy. Thanks for hosting :)

    1. I totally incorporate the less is more policy in all aspects of my life! Thanks for joining :)

    2. Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week :)

  9. I am absolutely in awe of you and so many points from this post. We really aren't very good at rotating toys and so they all tend to be dragged out and on the floor. All the time. Love the idea of the hole punch game, in fact might try this tomorrow. I might also finally get around to binning all of my old cassette tapes.... (might - can't promise though!) Brilliant flow-chart! Thanks for linking up with #fartglitter x

  10. Great tips. When my kids' rooms become chronically disastrous, I know it's because they have too much stuff out and we need to go through it. Most of the stuff lying on the floor isn't even being played with, they just had to move it in order to get to the stuff they actually wanted!

    (I did have an issue with the flow chart helping my decide what to do with an item... if I followed it, every single one of my cleaning supplies would be in the garbage!)

    1. LOL! I agree. "Does is spark joy" is debatable. The only thing left will be my laptop & my bed!

  11. What great ideas! I am guilty of keeping ALL my children's artwork. I find it hard to declutter, everything seems to have sentimental value. But like you say, less is more! Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink