By Carol Cowan
School’s out for summer, and even though those of us who are parents are thrilled to have more time to spend with our kids, some of us are less than excited about the disaster zones we know their rooms will quickly become.
Franklin-based home organization expert Liz Jenkins says it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right setup, your child’s room can provide hours of happy, focused play and stay neat and orderly during summer break and all year long.
“There are three key components to a well-organized child’s room,” Jenkins says. “Kids need an empty area in which to play, a surface to do things on, and creative and accessible storage.”
Let’s face it: Kids are not naturally inclined to put things away. But when they are not overwhelmed with too much stuff and the toys they do play with have a clearly designated “home,” tidying up is no big deal.
What To Do
• Start by observing your child at play and asking directly, Jenkins says. What does he or she actually play with? What does he or she like to do? What items are precious to your child, and what items get ignored?
• Take inventory of everything in your child’s room and purge all the unwanted, unused, broken and age-inappropriate items. Rather than asking if your child wants to get rid of a particular item, Jenkins recommends asking, “Do you want this to go to Cousin Mary (for example) or donate it to the church nursery, thrift store, etc.?”
• Set up play zones, and keep things where they are used. For example, if your child loves to do arts and crafts, set up an art zone and store the paper, markers and related items in open bins near the desk or easel.
• Use wall cubbies, open bins, under-bed storage containers, stacking trays, shelves and wall hooks to keep like items together. Pop-up laundry hampers make great containers for stuffed animals and balls.
• Storage containers are useless if your child can’t reach them. Make sure shelves, bins and cubbies are on their level.
• Labels help kids remember where things go, especially when they get to do the labeling. Photos, clip art and drawings work for non-readers, and kids who can read get a big kick out of using a label-maker.
When organizing your child’s room, Jenkins says, keep in mind that it should be a space where kids can find what they want, have an appropriate place to use it, and be able to put it back by themselves.
Clutter-Free in Tennessee
Many of us don’t have kids and still have trouble staying organized. Mary Pankiewicz, who runs Clutter-Free & Organized in upper East Tennessee, offers some sage words of advice: “If you can weed your garden, you can declutter your home.” Get more tips from Pankiewicz at clutterfree.biz.