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Top Tips for Organizing Children's Rooms

Look at the space, storage, furniture and possessions from a child's vantage point and tailor organizing strategies to suit.

Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer
These open kid baskets provide an easy way to organize toys like stuffed animals.

Tip #1: Think Child-Friendly.

To organize a child's room, solutions must fit the child. Adult furniture and organizing systems don't translate well to children's needs. Sticky dresser drawers are hard for small hands to manage. Folding closet doors pinch fingers and jump their rails when pushed from the bottom. Closet hanging rods are out of reach, while traditional toy boxes house a jumble of mixed and scattered toy parts.

For younger children, remove closet doors entirely. Lower clothing rods and invest in child-sized hangers; versions don't fit children's clothing. Use floor-level open containers to hold toys, and open plastic baskets to store socks and underwear.

Tip #2: Hard to Get Out, Easy to Put Away.

The premier rule for efficient children's storage? Make it easier to put something away than it is to get it out. For example, store picture books as a flip-file, standing upright in a plastic dishpan. The child flips through the books, makes his or her selection, and tosses the book in the front of the dishpan when he or she's done. It sure beats a traditional bookcase, where little fingers can pull down a whole shelf faster than they can replace one book.

Tip #3: Organize Bottom to Top.

Befitting a child's shorter stature, start the organizing process from the bottom of the room, and work to the top. Most-used toys and belongings should live on lower shelves, in lower drawers, or on the floor. Higher levels are designated for less-frequently-used possessions.

Tip #4: Label, Label, Label.

Use a computer printer to make simple graphic labels for young children. Pictures of socks, shirts, dolls or blocks help remind the child where these items belong. Enhance reading skills for older children by using large-type word labels. Slap labels everywhere: inside and outside of drawers, on shelf edges, on boxes and bookcases and filing cubes. Playing "match the label" can be fun and turns toy pickup into a game.

Tip #5: Build a Maintenance Routine.

The usual peaks-and-valleys approach to keeping a room in order can vex and frustrate children. Their room is clean and tidy, they play and suddenly their room is back to messy normal. Help children stop the cycle by building maintenance routines into the family's day. "Morning Pick-up" straightens the comforter, returns the pillow to the bed and gets yesterday's clothing to the laundry hamper. Before dressing for bed, "Evening Pick-up" involves putting away the day's toys.

Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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