Tips for Organizing Kid Spaces

March 16, 2011

I often get that question, “Hey Kate, are your kids’ rooms always as organized as they appear?” and I have to smile.  In truth, I find it completely impossible to keep kids’s rooms clean and organized all of the time.   Most days you can barely see the floor because my two little monkeys have managed to pull everything out.  They’re kids, they do what kids do best.  They eat, they play, the sleep.  And in between, they make a whole lotta messes.  

I have a few tactics I use, but to answer the big question on how to best keep kids’ spaces organized, I invited my good friend Cristin from Simplified Bee to offer a few tips.  Cristin is a busy mom of two girls, and a professional organizer too.  She’s a real pro when it comes to this topic. 



So Cristin, tell us all your secrets.  What are the best ways to keep those kid spaces clean and organized? 

“Keeping kids’ rooms organized is a challenge for most parents. How many of us have cleaned our child’s room only to find it turned upside down in minutes. And if you have a collector {dolls, rocks or toy cars} it can be especially painful to keep the space neat. Here are some helpful tips to help organize kids’ rooms:

cg organized kids bedroom


Before you purchase baskets, bins and furnishings, take inventory of all clothing, toys and books in your child’s room.  Start by sorting clothing based on condition {torn, stained, etc.}, size {too small} and use {winter jackets, sports/dance}.  Donate, sell or giveaway clothing that your child has outgrown and is still in good condition.  Discard all clothing that is torn or stained beyond repair.  Place all clothing that your child has not grown into yet in a clear plastic container and label {child’s name and size clothing}.

These bins should be stored on the top shelf of the child’s closet or in another area of your home.  For clothing your child is currently wearing, it’s best to hang coats, sweaters and dressy outfits.  Designate drawers in a dresser for socks and underwear, tee shirts, pants and sport or dance uniforms.

As for the toys, the process is very similar.  Sort all toys into groups.  Donate, giveaway, keep, toss or store the toy depending on its condition, size and how often it’s used or loved.  For example, you may want to store toys that are larger in a playroom or garage.

If age appropriate, get your child to help you sort items.  They may enjoy the process and learn why organizing and storing items into groups makes it easier to find items when we need them.

child's organized bookshelf LONImage

I am a huge fan of vertical storage options such as shelves and bookcases. Please make sure however, that they are secured to the wall for your child’s safety.

Organizing from bottom to top based on the child’s age and interest is the best way to get started.  Smaller children will enjoy having age appropriate toys and books at their level.  And if they can take them down, they can usually put them back.  Save higher shelves for items that are fragile, nostalgic or toys used less often. 

cg stylish kid storageImage


Shelving units are also a great area to incorporate and utilize compartmentalized storage products such as baskets, bins and pails.  Before purchasing storage bins, be sure to measure the height, depth and width of the shelves to ensure you buy the right size and number.  Sort toys, books or collections based on type and designate a bin for each group. 

 Labeling each bin {i.e. books, Barbies, Legos, etc.} might make sense for older children.  Toddlers however, might struggle to just assist in putting toys away. If the label becomes too much of an issue, then simply aim at getting the toys put away rather than in the correct bin.


laundry hampers for kidsImage


Every bedroom needs a trash can and a laundry hamper and kid’s rooms are no exception. Children can learn at a young age where to throw tissues and put dirty clothing. Invest in a hamper that allows your child to divide his laundry into darks and whites. This will help keep the floors clean of dirty laundry and will help educate them on how to wash clothing properly. In terms of trash cans, purchase one that can be wiped down easily and is small enough for a child to carry to the garbage can. Children should be educated on what is trash and what items can be recycled.

cg hooks for kids roomsImage


Hooks are another great way to help organize your kids’ room.  With so many cute styles to choose from, I’m sure you will find one that goes with your room’s decor.  Hang hooks on the back of the door, in the closet or on a wall.  In any case, hang it at the level the child can reach it when possible.  This will make them feel more important and in turn want to use them!

Regardless of your child’s age, make it a daily routine to clean their room.  Kids over the age of about six should be able to clean their room with little help from parents.  Toddlers will need some assistance.  In any case, schedule a time each day {ours is before bedtime stories} to pick up the room.  Putting toys and clothing away at the end of the day will allow for a more peaceful bedtime.

Reward your children for their work with praise, hugs or stickers.  Track their progress on a chart or add the task to their weekly allowance.  If you value and recognize your child’s hard work, they will be more apt to clean their room the next day. It’s a win-win for everyone!”

Well said Cristin, thank you!!  


I agree, the keys to keeping kid clutter at bay are to 1) purge frequently when they’re not looking! 2) provide them with an actual space to put their clothes and toys, and 3) train those monkeys to clean up their toys as part of a daily routine.

My kids playspace rarely ever  looks this clean, but we do aim to keep it somewhat close to this. I’m a big believer in colorful bins to achieve organization.  Kids love them because they are so naturally drawn to bright cheerful color.   Stuffed animals, crayons, random collections they make ~ it’s all got to have a place or chaos happens.   And yes, there is a game of musical rugs going on around this house. 

kids playroom media center

I use all kinds of different storage solutions, including magazine holders for the educational books, simple tags, and inexpensive bins for corraling movies and other plastic toys.  Colorful cloth bins are the greatest invention since sliced bread for any frazzled mom, and you can find them at all price ranges. 

Like Cristin advises, making sure they fit your unit is important.  I’ve picked up baskets and bins over the years in places like Target, the Container Store, Michaels, or Walmart, and also online at stores like The Land of Nod. 

storage solutions

And nothing beats the all purpose basket for storing just about anything from coloring books, to Legos, to building blocks.  

coloring books in basket


Hooks are a fantastic way to get clothes or costumes off the floor.

hooks on doors

In our boy’s room we take full advantage of a tall storage unit for trains, puzzles, Hot Wheels, and pirate booty. 

boys room shelves

In my girl’s room, I use sweet hatboxes (found at the Land of Nod) to store dollhouse furniture, and all those Polly Pockets she’s so into these days.  A homemade ruffled skirt around my old coffee table from college hides all sorts of other treasures. 

cg dollhouse

Barbies, jewelry, and even socks are stored in this desk.  My girl loves her collection of bells, but like Cristin mentioned, they are kept up above to deter playing with them.

cg girls room

Kids spaces never look as pretty or clean or organized as they do in pictures, and some days, you’ve just got to let it all go.  Most of the time I do.  I think it’s more important sometimes to just get down on the floor to make the messes with them. 

So c’mon busy moms, time for you to chime in.  What are your best tips for keeping your kid spaces organized? 

 Or is that asking the impossible?



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