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Kids have so much stuff. You don’t really understand just how much until you have a day when you didn’t get any dishes done or straighten up the toys at all. Then once the kids are in bed, the kitchen sink is piled sky high with dishes and you can’t see your floor through the sea of toys.
In the last few years, I have found several strategies and products that help me through the mess so that I can be more present and less worried about cleaning.
I am lucky in that we have have a bonus room upstairs. It is the only thing up there and not visible to the rest of the house, so oftentimes I leave it a disaster zone. But I still try to keep things a little bit sane with furniture that holds all the toys and still looks good.
I think its required of every millennial parent, but if you don’t have the Ikea Kallax (formerly Expedit), do yourself a solid and get that. We’ve got the old version that has 8 spots for baskets, but the version with four spots is still available. It’s sturdy and versatile enough to suit most design styles. One simple search on Pinterest will show you all the hacks to make it even more design savy.
Here are some of my favorite hacks from around Pinterest. Click each image for source and more pics!
If you’re looking for a quicker, smaller scale improvement, I recommend baskets. Of course, we aren’t always upstairs in the playroom. We have toys in nearly every room of the house so that if we need to be in the kitchen, the kids have some toys nearby. The easiest way to make the home look neat is to contain that chaos.
Now, let’s talk Legos. A recent study (done by me) has shown that stepping on Legos is the number one way that children learn curse words. So, how do you keep all those small pieces contained? The Poppin Box Seat from the Container Store is the answer.
This little box is the most multifunctional piece in our playroom. We use the base as storage for all things Legos. I stopped trying to color coordinate or keep like with like a long time ago - all Legos are just dumped in. The top is the perfect size to fit this piece - a Lego baseplate. When the lid is closed, it is an ottoman to sit on. By far my favorite hack to date. And when they are big enough, I’m sure they will use the lid with the baseplate on their laps to play.
It is remarkably easy for every drawer to become a junk drawer. The only way for me to keep my drawers feeling fresh is with clear acrylic organizers and liners. I use muted liners and acrylic organizers so that the actual items in the drawer are easily seen. I don’t want the liner to compete with my toothbrush at 6am.
It is so easy to create a mess in the pantry or closet and close the door. I have realized that knowing the mess that lies beyond the door stresses me out. The feeling I have when I open an organized closet by far outweighs the time spent to organize.
I start as I do all things, with Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life tips for purging. Closets are where I store things that don’t have a real place, which usually means they don’t have a real purpose. I go through each closet and toss the items that we haven’t used in months and expired things. In doing this, I usually find some baskets and containers that I will use to contain the items that remain. As Emily says, DON’T BUY ANYTHING UNTIL YOU HAVE PURGED THE ENTIRE HOUSE!
Next I categorize things in a way that makes sense for how I use the space. Typically, items that aren’t used as frequently are on the top and bottom shelves along with anything that has height limitations. The middle shelves are reserved for the baskets and containers that I have found or bought.
I place the containers in a way that is visually appealing, and then I fill them. For example, in the pantry one bin has baby snacks, one has toddler snacks, one has canned goods, etc. When I am filling the baskets, I take all items out of the boxes or plastic wrap that they come in. It’s far easier to store items and cuts clutter way down.
I try to find containers with a higher edge so that the items that are stored are not seen from head on. I also highly recommend keeping the color scheme relatively monochromatic and adding a little texture. I use these plastic bins (easy to wipe clean if items spill or leak) along with baskets (this one for my breads). Its crisp.
And that’s how it’s done. You’ve got the dedicate time and maybe a bit of your resources to it, but once you are able to clean the house in minutes by knowing where everything goes and having a container for it, you’ll be glad you did!