Posted by: Amy at | May 5, 2012

Children and Toys: A Lesson in Organization

If you have little children then there are probably very few times that the toys are all organized and your floor is clear.  Your kids are having a lot of fun but as a parent, it can get very frustrating having constant clutter on the floor.  Here is some good news, there is a way to organize the kids stuff so it is easy for the kids to pick up and also give them an opportunity to learn how to be organized.

When we work organizing families, one of our favorite things to do is help eliminate steps and obstacles for children.  By steps, we mean, if a child has toys stored in a basket on a closet shelf then they have 5 steps to put a toy away.  The steps would be to open the door, pull out the basket, put the toy in the basket, put the basket back  and then close the door.  Now for an adult this doesn’t sound so bad, but for a child it can be overwhelming…so the toy will stay on the floor.  Sometimes, the child will start the task of putting things away but then they don’t finish.  The basket may be left on the floor or the door to the closet left open.

Open containers on open shelves is a great solution for organizing children’s toys.  Now, as an adult, we may feel compelled to label all the bins and have the expectation that every toy have a home.  This might work for an adult but for little kids, it is again overwhelming.  It is great to have a few containers labeled for small things like Lego’s or Polly Pockets but be flexible with the rest.  It helps the children to have unlabeled containers for quick and easy pick up.

We can hear some of you grumbling, “My kids will just toss everything in the containers and it will be a jumbled mess.”  You are correct.  Our question is who does that affect?  It only affects the kids.  The bonus of this is that there is now an opportunity to teach your child how to be organized.  Here is the teachable moment: Your child comes to you and says they can’t find blah, blah, blah toy.   A good response would be “That is a bummer.  Where do you keep that toy?”  Kid says “over on the shelf.” You say “Wow, those containers are a bit jumbled.  Do you have a special container you put that toy in?”  Kid says no.  “Well, after you find your toy let me know if you need help creating a special place for it.”

The benefit of this conversation is two fold.  First, the child gets to suffer a natural consequence for being messy and unorganized.  Next, the mom does not take responsibility for the toy and the child realizes that he is responsible for keeping the toy where he can find it.  After a few times of this process, the child will create a system that works for him.

Being organized does not come naturally for everyone.  We like to give kids systems that can be easily maintained with the opportunity to learn how to be organized.  If these systems are in place and parents can model good organizing then your child will have a good opportunity to learn to be organized.  This is good because in the end, an organized child helps make a happy mom.



  1. This is a great example of conversations to teach kids on organization.

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