Mom Hacks: Controlling Clutter
It's funny how babies come into this world naked and with nothing. When you have your first kid, it seems like you look around at other moms and wonder, "how did they get so much stuff?" You commit to controlling the toys and clutter.
Life laughs and fills your house with all the kid things. Then one day you realize you need to take charge. The things are going to control you if you don't control them. Obviously it's important to engage in the occasional purging, or decide how you want to handle toys from a philosophical standpoint. I agree. However, this post is dedicated to the things that you keep.
Laundry bins/toy bins
As my kids grew, they seemed to accumulate more and more stuffed animals. I really wonder sometimes if these things are actually procreating secretly at night. Storage was becoming an issue. There are really only so many of these guys you can put on a shelf or on their beds.
The other issue I had was the dress up, costume, and play clothes. Kids love to dress up right? Mine love it. They have masks, capes, full body superhero costumes, tutus, dresses, wands, mini princess shoes, crowns, and the list just seems endless. I could not figure out for the life of me what to do with these things. (Note: No mini lawyer costumes though. I should have looked for "Disney Princess" or dinosaur as a college major.)
The type-A in me at first hung them up. Well that didn't last very long. They ripped them from the hangers and they ended up all over the house. Then I tried separate Target/Ikea bins for each type of item in their closets. It didn't last. They ended up downstairs in the play room. (Note: I converted what was designed to be a living room or sitting room from our 1980's house into a play room. I mean, let's be real. The queen is probably not coming to visit any time soon. The kids need a place to play. Decision made.)
Finally I found these bins online. They are awesome! They hold toys, costumes, and we even use them for laundry! Look at how cute they are in my kids' play room below.
Two are filled with stuffed animals and the other two are full of costumes. The kids can find what they want easily and cleaning up is easy enough that they do it. (With reminders from mom and dad.) They come in a bunch of cute colors and patterns. I am sort of wishing I had a baby room to decorate because I would totally incorporate some of the fun patterns into decorating a baby's room. Check out this one with bunnies! Adorbs.
You can see in the photo below that we have one for Madeline's laundry. Guys, these things are just the JAM. They have a WATERPROOF liner. Even Cameron's sweaty socks, soccer clothes, and gymnastics clothes have been fine in here. We even toss wet washcloths in them.
I have TWO of these in Cameron's room. One for stuffed animals, and one for laundry. I got the star pattern to match his space-themed bedroom. They are even on sale right now! I am even getting rid of our old laundry hamper and switching to these. They are cute enough to have anywhere, and SO MUCH EASIER to carry up and down stairs than regular laundry baskets!
I also bought some bins from this company for my laundry room. I talked about them in my laundry room makeover blog over on my DIY page. I am obsessed with this pattern for a nautical themed room, and these more neutral ones would be perfect for a baby's room or other rooms in the house. (Shout out to Laura - I could totally see these in your house.)
"Kid thing" areas
No matter how hard you try to keep all the toys and kid things in their proper places they seem to travel around the house. I generally try to keep some kind of landing place in every room to catch these things and either 1) help them make their way back to where they belong, or 2) store kid things in rooms that have other purposes.
First, for the clutter that comes into your home from their book bags. I dedicated a mom hack post to storing children's art work. I truly love my accordion file method. But BEFORE the works of art make it to the accordion file or to a sheet protector in a notebook, they have a landing place. I have these two little bins in my office. One is for the grown ups (on the left, and recently cleaned and sorted), and the other is for the kids. Every day they come home with stuff in their book bags. I don't have time to get dinner on the table, do baths/showers, do a little lawyer work, have an hour of relaxation time, AND sort through the book bag stuff and figure out what to do with it. It must have somewhere to go during the week.
I must admit, as much as I try to stay on top of this (like in August when I am definitely going to keep up with it - rolls eyes), I generally sort it out every couple of weeks or once a month. Honestly, from Halloween to winter break it is basically untouched. Sigh.
For papers and art, I use these bins that I got at Target.
With my kids having a play room of their own on the ground floor of our house, a finished basement, and bedrooms, I really try to keep their toys out of our family room. I cannot relax when I am staring into the eyes of a baby doll or T-Rex, or if I can see a naked Barbie in my periphery.
I do, however, encourage them to have books that they can grab easily. I keep a little crate on the hearth with kids books to encourage reading at all times. You can see the photo below.
We also have crates near the back door for miscellaneous outdoor toys.
I also use trays to catch or store the kid things. Full disclosure: I am slightly obsessed with trays. They make what would otherwise look like clutter, look neat and organized. In my kitchen I have a tray on the table for random odds and ends. We still use wipes on little fingers so it’s nice to have them handy, napkins for all the messes, some kind of fruit, and often a candle, and when this photo was taken the kids had some random seeds. The tray is from World Market. I also love teal. Can you tell?
I found the tray below at World Market. I love it so much that I have gifted it to multiple people! It’s so versatile, I have used it to hold wine glasses like below, or as a centerpiece on the table. The ideas of things to do with trays are endless.
I also got the wine glasses in the above photo at World Market. They are on sale!
Here it is below with some spring flowers.
It appears as though that exact tray is out of stock but they have one that is similar with a marble bottom. It's really cute. I have some gold and marble coasters (see above a few pics) and I adore them.
I also found the tray here at World Market. They have so many fun and cute trays. This one is also really cute. I really love finding fun and cute things there. I also love to put a tray (with a flat surface) on the sofa with my coffee right next to me to give it a stable surface.
I also use them upstair for jewelry. This one is darling and would make a good gift for mother's day or for your best girl.
I have Christmas trays, Halloween trays, give me allllll the trays!
Ziplock bin storage for toys with little parts
To collect ALLLLLL the stuff they have! They are a life saver.
As my kids have gotten older the toys have most definitely gotten cooler. They are more detailed and intricate ... and they have 1,7489,301 pieces. My Ikea storage shelves and Target bins are awesome for the big stuff but they really were not working for the smaller stuff like legos and K'nex. If you have ever stepped on a lego, you have see the face of the devil and know know what I am talking about. Law school did not prepare me for tortious lego storage.
I found these Ziploc bins online and I love them. The one pictured that I linked to above is a 16 quart sized bin. It comes in a pack with some 60 quart bins that I use for clothing storage for the kids.
You can see the dolls above having girl talk next to a 26.5 quart Ziploc bin. These bins are the perfect size for Barbies, K'Nex, and legos. If you have ever stepped on a lego, you have seen the face of the devil, and you can understand the need to contain these guys in a bin with a locking lid. Law school did not prepare me for tortious lego storage.
Above is the 16 quart Ziploc bin with some of the smaller toys in them. Another pet peeve of mine (and I have many, it's a type-A plight) is card games when the box gets busted. You can't play a card game with missing cards and when you step on them they stick to your feet. When the cards were just in their original boxes, the kids would jam them in, toss them on a shelf sideways and they would all come cascading down as the kids ran out of the room. No such issue with these bins.
Below is the 44 quart Ziploc bin. These are the bins my type-A Mama dreams are made of. See the boxes on the right side of the photo? Those hold gifts I have bought in advance for upcoming birthdays, some candles I bought after the holidays on sale, and our Christmas tree. It looks messy to me. This ENTIRE ROOM used to look like this and I wanted to cry every time I opened the door. Now, I have all of my holiday decorations sorted by holiday and time of year neatly kept and stacked. I can easily see what each bin holds. AND MY DARN CHRISTMAS TREE FITS IN HERE. REJOICE.
We used to store our tree in another part of the basement and it was always in the way. Not any more. I scored a type-A touchdown with these bins.
There you have it. My clutter control first edition.