Stop Folding Your Kids’ Clothes (and Other Ways to Help Them Keep the Room Tidy)

If you don’t have one of those supernaturally tidy little kids that we hear about from time to time but are still unsure of their existence, you probably could use some help to reduce the clutter in their room. And while we can’t get your child to clean up after them, we have some organizational tips that can help make things easier for them – and by association, for you.

Use thin, non-slip hangers.

One way to protect yourself from having your child pick up each piece of clothing from the folded position to remind himself what it looks like before decides not to wear it is to make sure you can see it all. Instead of stacking, hang things up and use thin baby hangers that take up less space than traditional hangers. Get the look with a velvety texture designed to prevent clothing slipping by reducing the number of sweaters and dresses that dangle precariously over one shoulder and are ready to fall off at the slightest bump.

Doublers in the closet will create more hanging space and place the rods at eye level for your child, allowing them to hang more of their clothes on their own and feel quite capable of the process.

Use a hanging shoe organizer

Speaking of double duty, we all know how useful a plastic organizer for hanging a shoe door is – but have you tried using it for other little things? It turns out that these pint-sized pockets are amazing keepers of lingerie, socks, paintbrush, lotions, diapers, Barbie dolls, Matchbox cars, Scrunchies, and all sorts of other crap precious trinkets your child saves on every surface in their room. (And while we’re on the subject of reworking old items in a new way, do yourself a favor and check out this tip for dividing wine boxes .)

Boxes and trash bins; boxes and boxes

Two words: storage bins. Whether you’re getting a stackable look that fits on top of each other, or using a cube organizer, storage boxes are every parent’s best friend. Ideally, your child can grab a trash can and walk around their room (or house) collecting appropriate items to throw at it. Provided that they are all clearly marked as they should be. While some can be used for sheets, shoes, or sports equipment not currently in use, they can also be used for your child’s everyday wear, which brings us to the next point.

Did n’t you think not to add anything?

Okay, nothing ( T-shirts would be a disaster). But some items – like pajamas, shorts, tights, and swimwear – are more likely to be thrown into the labeled bin, right? We’re not talking about throwing things into massive balls, but some items won’t be hit hard by, say, loosening your folding standards. While this will lead to a few more wrinkles, it will save you and your baby a ton of time. (And the point is to get them to do as much work as possible, right?)

Install perforated board and hooks

Pegboards are no longer just tools. Mounting one of these on the back of your child’s toilet can provide space for hanging baseball caps, necklaces, stuffed animals, headbands, and anything else small and light to hang from a metal hook . For an even nicer look, take the perforated board outside and paint it to match the room (or buy it white to avoid the dull cardboard color). Speaking of hooks: Help your child clear up floor space with decorative wall hooks to hang robes, hoodies, belts, hats, and bags.

Get down to your baby’s level

As she ponders the organization of your child’s toilet and room, author, designer and blogger Sarah Simonds reminds parents to “think like they are” and organize activities based on your child’s growth and interests. Think strategically about what they need regular access to and where it will be easiest for them to clean them up. Place items they don’t use regularly or out of season on top shelves or taller hooks; keep the clothing and toys they use daily or weekly at eye level or below. Or…

Get rid of toys altogether

Depending on your child’s age, it might make sense to completely rid the room of toys (other than a few favorite stuffed toy friends, of course). I can’t speak for all the kids, but mine never wanted to play alone in their rooms until they were 7 or 8 years old, and even then, not often. While they are still young, take advantage of their desire to be around others and move the toys to public areas where you can help with them.

Of course, this is a double-edged sword: all toys can be stored in the common room downstairs or in the basement. First, there will be a lot of overflow in the kitchen. But at least you will know what troubles lie ahead, instead of heading upstairs at the end of the day and discovering a colossal Lego explosion right before bed.

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