Monday, April 18, 2011

Everyday Storage: Organizing Kids Toys, Books and More

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organizing kids toys

Use baskets or bins to store toys. Credit: MCT

Clutter follows kids like flies follow a summer picnic. But experts say getting your child's stuff in order doesn't have to be a chore if you develop a system and stay on top of it.

No matter where the problem area in the home exists, tackling clutter is a three step process, says Cincinnati-based professional organizer Stephanie Denton. Those steps, she tells ParentDish, include:

  1. 1. Clear out: At least once a year, go through everything and toss broken, torn or worn-out items. Move off-season items to the basement or attic.
  2. 2. Contain: Once everything is sorted, set up a storage system.
  3. 3. Maintain: Keep the system going. The system fails if you don't routinely put things in their place.
Denton says it doesn't make any sense to buy organizing tools such as containers until after the clearing out process is complete. At that point, she recommends taking a close look at what's left and figuring out the right size container for it.

All those little Lego pieces would be lost in a in a deep toy tub, but they can be stored in mesh drawer systems with ease. Create separate storage for puzzles, doll clothes, race cars, puppets and other toys. A preschool classroom is a good model to look at when you begin to organize a playroom. Think about separate containers for dress-up, board games and reading. Attach a picture or label every drawer and basket to make clean-up time easier.

Stuffed animals, dolls and even winter mittens can be slipped into over-the-door shoe hangers for easy organization. Hang them on the back of a door wherever space is tight, and it adds instant organization, Denton says. For video games, Denton re-purposes bulk CD spindle cases for easy and portable organizing. Put the video game discs on the spindle that has a protective cover and save the instruction booklets in a freezer bag stashed nearby.

If books are taking over, try standing them up in a plastic tub, like those used to wash dishes, so your child can flip through the books easily. Group them by color or subject to help your child put them back in the right place.

"As long as everything does have a place, you don't have to think so much about cleaning up," Denton says.

If you know where something goes, you're not as invested mentally at clean-up time and the whole process goes quickly.

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