Organizing with kids

adellabedella_usaFebruary 7, 2006

I've been on a roll here the last couple of weeks. THe spring like weather has been very conducive to getting things done.

Anyway, I'm finding that I need to have places for my kids to put their stuff so they can learn to clean up properly and keep things picked up. I have several problem areas. I'm looking for suggestions.

1.) What do you do with girls hair things? DD doesn't have much hair yet. Most are either the small rubber bands or the tiny plastic type barrettes that won't go on a ribbon organizer.

2.) Various members of the family have different shampoo, soap needs. I don't have room under the sink. I can't keep stuff in the tub area because the kids will throw it in the tub and waste it all. I'm trying to think of a way to keep everything handy, but out of reach.

3.) My 2 and 3 yo mess everything up while the 5 yo ds is away at school. How do you seperate out an area of do not touch for each child? The boys share a room and dd has her baby bed in the room dh and I sleep in. Just closing the door doesn't do the trick.

I'd be happy to hear suggestions.

Thank you,


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My dd put up baby gates in those areas that she didn't want my gd to get into. Can you put up a gate to those rooms that you don't want touched?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 3:21PM
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Several things you can try.

Weed out most of the hair "pretties" and just keep a few in a small container you can keep on a dresser. Most of the type of problem with these little things is we have too many of them and they end up scattered all over the house.

I used laundry baskets for toy storage for my kids. Easy to throw things in, but small enough it didn't hold a ton. The five year old could set his on his bed and this could be a "no touch" area for the younger two. It may take a few days, but really, they'll get the message if you are consistant. If they do mess up older brother's stuff, then you can have a small consequence like putting up the gate and they can't go in there the rest of the day unless the 3 yo is going down for a nap or something. Start over again the next day with no touching brother's stuff.

I know it's hard when you have three little ones, but go ahead and try and spend the time now to impress that "brother's stuff is left alone." It will take many repetitions, but it will be worth it.

If you use the bathtub as a play area (my little ones always liked to "swim") then you may have to have a small basket for shampoo needs and just put it in the linen closet or just set it elsewhere while they are "swimming." Again, and I realize it's a battle, but start the "this is not a toy" concept for the shampoos. Nothing worse than finding the bottle empty because someone decided to make a great bubble bath.

This stage really won't last that long, although I know while you are in it, it seems like forever. Next thing you know they be sniping clothes, books and friends.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 4:51PM
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I put hair stuff in those teeny tiny 3-drawer chests by Sterilite.

different shampoos: I wonder if your problem might be solved with one of those shower dispensers kittiemom was just posting about? Bcs it'd be fastened to the wall above the rug-rats heads (mostly), and it couldn't be knocked over?

Actual bars of soap are a bit harder, but I mounted a self-adhesive hook just above the shower enclosure at the OPPOSITE end of the tub from the spray-head, and hung one of those white wire shower organizers there, up high--2-year-olds can't reach it, and the best thing is, it's away from the spray head, so the soap doesn't melt as fast. (hanging it over the spray head just meant the soap was constantly wet; this way, my soap doesn't get soaked when DH takes his shower.

I'm not sure why closign the door doesn't work. My kids, for the most part, only SLEEP in their rooms (esp. when they were little). They didn't really play in there.

So they had toys outside the bedrooms. Maybe if you had a good selection of toys outside, they wouldn't need to get back into those rooms?

Maybe a baby gate would easier on you, bcs you could step over it.

Also, the height difference between 5 and 3 isn't that great, but you *could* perhaps make sure the 5-y-o has places up high to put the stuff he most wants to shield from them?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 4:57PM
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We use all the same shampoos and conditioners. Really cuts down on clutter.

Biggest lesson though, that I learned by being out of town the last two weeks?

My DD is eight, and I have not taught her to be self-reliant. I do far too much for her. So now that I'm back, I am kicking her into the world of managing her own homework, gymnastics clothes, getting ready in the morning, etc.

The Character Word of the week this week at her school is Self-Reliance, so it seemed like karma that this is the perfect time to give her a boost and help her mature.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 8:11AM
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Karen, that's a problem for me, too--I get DS's clothes out each morning while he's int he bathroom, bcs it hurries him along.

So, if I don't get them out, or miss something, he just sits there. (he's about to be 8).

I need to work on that. In the old days, 8-year-olds held jobs as newsboys--if they could do that reliably enough, then they can certain do their own homework, get their own drink of water, and get their own clothes out of the dresser!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 11:07AM
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Amen, Tally Sue! I would also really like to get my kids to rely on each other. If I'm cooking dinner, the 3rd grader has a math hw question, the 7th grader can certainly answer it! Teamwork. That's what I'd like to establish.

I have a thing for the shoe organizers that go on the back of doors, with all the clear plastic pockets. I have one in the kids' bathroom, holds various items at age-appropriate heights. DD can see her hair things, and it's so easy to put them away. Brush and detangle spray in pockets right next to each. Easy to reach standing in front of the bathroom mirror. The oldest has his hair gel in the top pocket where littlier hands can't reach it. Kids' cold, headache medicine also in the top pockets, easy to find even in the middle of the night.

Each kid also has the shoe organizer on the closet door. Not full of shoes. 9 y/o and 3 y/o share a room, 9 y/o keeps his gameboy, taekwondo belts, wallet with money, in the very top pockets where the 3 y/o can't get them. Now, if the kids don't put the stuff in that safe place, I can't help them.

The closets have a shelf across the middle and the top. We put those sterilite drawers on the middle shelf with legos and other small parts, 3 y/o is less likely to get into them.

When we have a playgroup of preschoolers at our house while the big kids are at school, I lock the bedroom doors and don't apologize for it. I bring down a variety of age appropriate toys and make sure there is plenty to keep the kids happy and busy. I don't let them into my kids' rooms, it would be a mess, and it's not fair considering they aren't home to defend their turf. It's wouldn't be safe, either, considering the choking hazards of legos and polly pocket dolls.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 11:35AM
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I think independent kids is a worthy goal.

Mine start their own laundry by age 10. Everyone has their own alarm clocks, including the 5 year old. He picks out his own clothing the night before, so he's ready to go in the morning. As are the others.

The big thing is making sure they actually have a place for these things.

My 11 yo has watched me use my timer for household tasks, so he does this approach to homework. He seems to have quite a bit and it helps him break it down into smaller segments of work time.

I never thought I would pay for a calendar, but the one I use has sooo helped us keep up with all of the activities. There is room for everything and everyone puts their stuff on it and checks it daily.

My oldest is 10 years older than kid #2, so we did go ahead and get him a key lock for his door when kid #2 was a toddler. But that was really just laziness on the part of me and dad. We should have paid more attention and kept kid #2 out of the room. Now that the other three are closer in age, I've seen that it's worth it to make the older one put stuff up and stay on top of younger ones.


Here is a link that might be useful: family calendar

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 1:52PM
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I so hear you Adella, I have a 4, 3 and 18 month old. Here are my suggestions FWIW.

I would lock the door. For nap time I would consider putting them both in the same room, set a timer for the length of time of their nap so that you can be puttering upstairs(wherever the rooms are) when they wake opportunity to get into trouble while mom thinks we are still sleeping.

for the shampoo thing Do you have a separate shower that you could use just for you, basement/guest room. That way at least your stuff will be in an entirely different location where your kids do not go. As for the kids shampoo I would get a shelf and put it out of reach because if they can reach the dispenser, you will have the same problem.

Another tip is to get them involved in putting the shampoo/soap away (if it absolutely cannot be out of reach), it is amazing how they take to routine...much better than I do that is for sure.

I know that it is hard, your kids are small and you are always outnumbered, just remember that this is a passing thing, soon they will understand what they are not suppposed to touch.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 8:12AM
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Hi -
I have trouble keeping one dd organized, but I can give you a suggestion for all those hair things - my dd has long hair and a fascination with jewelry, so last year for her birthday I gave her a jewelry armoire (picked up at a garage sale for $15) It has lots of drawers - one for scrunchies, one for clips - criminy, I use one drawer just for tiaras, the little princess! She likes using it and will put things in their special places.

We also all use the same shampoo, soap, conditioner - just love that Suave kiddy shampoo!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 5:59PM
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I tried to post back the other day. The log in thing ate my post.

I appreciate the ideas. I may try the idea for the caddies. I think bunking the beds may allow room for another storage unit where everyone is assigned a drawer and everything else is hands off. The shoe organizer wouldn't work because some of the stuff like books are too big. Little sister loves to draw in them. She manages to find drawing stuff no matter how hard I try to keep it put up.

A thought came to me on why the bathroom is so overcrowded. DH and I have never moved upstairs into the master bedroom and bathroom. We have always shared a room with a baby since we moved here three years ago. The kids are big enough for us to move. I'm trying to get us up there. Dh hurt his arm a while back so no moving just yet. He goes to the doctor tomorrow. After that, I may just hire someone if he can't help (if I can find someone.)

I've been getting the kids rooms better organized by getting rid of toys. I'm trying to paint so dd's big girl furniture will look nice when we get it in. The two youngest have been messing up faster than I can clean up. I painted "grass" in their bedrooms today and forgot to throw out the trash after I threw the brushes in. The kids found them and some painting on their own. Now the bathroom needs to be repainted. I got the paint off the doors, cabinets, and window.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 9:37PM
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