I recently had the pleasure of helping two girls move into separate rooms.
These 2nd and 4th grade girls had spent their entire lives sharing the same room and now that they are older (and all grown up, they say!) the oldest gets to move into her own separate bedroom.
There were three stages to this project:
1. Sort through clothes
2. Sort through books
3. Sort through toys and papers
STAGE ONE – Clothes Sort
The first step taken to separate the clothes was to figure out:
#1 Whose clothes were whose
#2 See if they still fit the owner
So to start, each girl went through the closet and decided either to keep, toss, donate or handed it off to the other sister so she could proceed with the same process.
After we sorted clothes, we moved the 4th graders clothes down into her new room so I could determine what type of organizing supplies were needed to set up a system within her closet.
STAGE TWO – Books
Following the same process, we continued into both steps of determining who owned what and eliminating the unloved or unused books from their gigantic collection.
By the time we made it to stage two, the girls were feeling a bit ancy so we decided to up the fun factor and have a book auction!
This is how it went:
I held up a book and each girl could vote for it if she wanted it.
The first hand up – got the book.
If no one raised their hand it went off to charity for some other young child to receive who normally could not afford new book.
If there was a tie, the girls had to barter among themselves for what was fair and if they could possibly trade out later.
The funniest thing happened during this process! I was holding up what appeared to me to be a great reference book on animals. When neither of the girls raised their hand, I asked will you possibly need this for future class projects? The second grader looks at me in disbelief and says ” there is such a thing as the internets you know!” I think I will always remember that day!
Kids are truly tuned in, tapped on and hooked automatically into the internet! Isn’t it great? Thinking about it now, I think it is such an advantage for any school report – most of the information in the world is literally at our fingertips x 100,000 or more!
After these two steps, we called it a day and set up our next appointment so we could tackle toys and finish setting up systems within each room.
STAGE THREE – Toys, toys and more toys!
On the first day we did a rough sort of toys and placed each sister’s toys put into boxes and then moved them into each closet so we could sort later.
Now it was time to sort, eliminate and organize all of the other toys throughout the house.
Dad did an amazing job gathering all random toys and setting us up to sort them in the den.
To keep it fair and make it more fun, the girls wanted to do another auction – this time with Barbies and all of her accessories. Dad suggested that we use a giant bin for donations and he was definitely correct! with all of the small pieces, shoes, clothes and Barbies, we filled up a giant bin for donations. The girls did a great job!
After sorting, we jumped into containerizing and decide if the toys should live in the bedroom closet or the newly designed toy closet.
SETTING UP THE TOY CLOSET
In between appointments, he also purchased and installed two new shelves and a rolling cart for mom’s work out equipment so it would fit within the toy closet.
The rolling cart is such a smart idea! When mom wants to work out, she simply rolls it out of the toy closet and all her weights and belts are right there and ready to use!
All in all, this project turned out great and the girls were so much fun to work with, even when they got bored and restless! They are great sisters who truly love and respect each other.
As an author and lover of books, I am also relieved to see that even with the ‘internets’ they are avid readers of “real” books with covers and actual paper pages inside!
Before: Can you believe 2 little boys can make this much of a mess? Of course you can. These boys had too many toys and they were taking over the garage.
After: We needed to create zones to keep the toys and other garage essentials contained. Our zones were: music, bikes and vehicles, working out, lego/trains, and outside toys/sports equipment.
We laid down foam squares to mark the lego/train zone and keep it contained. We created 2 bins with each boys’ name for the toys that they don’t share so they are each responsible for their own toys.
We lined up all of the bicycles and vehicles in the front so they can be easily taken outside. We put all of the workout equipment together.
In the corner, we set up the drum set and other music equipment from both the garage and other areas of the house. Now all of the music making happens in the garage, and not in the house.
We also corralled all of the balls, bats, etc into a floating basket on wheels which could be wheeled outside to the basketball hoop or yard for sports.
Toys are now contained in bins. Nerf guns and their ammo are housed together in a cabinet. The many small parts that we came across were separated out, and we asked the boys what they went to and which were worth keeping.
Anything that did not fit into the zones was put away in another part of the house. Once the rest of the house is organized, there shouldn’t be any temptation to stash things in the garage that don’t belong.
Use this 7 step process to organize and create a toy closet within your hall closet. Even if you don’t have kids, you can use the same process for whatever you decide to do with your spare closet.
1. Gather It All Together
Gather all of the toys or sports equipment that you wish to store in this area. Sort these items into categories. Pile like items with like, give or throw away all of items that your children no longer play with and then take stock of what you need to store.
2. Determine What Storage to Use
For toys with multiple parts like Lego bricks, consider buying plastic bins with lids that children can easily remove and put back on. Place all Lego items into one bin, with a little room to spare to serve as a guide for when your children request more Lego parts.
3. Sort Like with Like
Make sure that board games are intact and stack these boxes together. A large rubber band around each box will save you hours of frustration sorting spilled boxes. Stuffed animals are best stored together in their own bin or deep basket. Once all toys are gathered, you will have a better idea of what type of storage containers you need. For instance, if the collection is mainly board games and stuffed animals, then you will need a small shelf unit and a large basket to hold the toys. If you discover that you have multiple loose items, you might want to incorporate a drawer unit into the closet.
4. Choose the Proper Containers
There are many cost effective and efficient plastic storage units on the market. These plastic solutions will help organize your closet without requiring a construction worker. One of the most versatile units is the rolling drawer bin. These white and clear plastic units feature three to four drawers and they can be stacked if you need more room. You should be able to fit one of these into the closet with room to spare on one side for other containers. For instance, you can stack two to three bins on top of each other on the floor beside this unit.
If you need to store many sports related items, tall kitchen trashcans make super containers for bats, gloves, balls, etc.
5. Make Use of the Side Walls
On the side walls you can install hooks at “kid height” to hold bags for separate projects. These hooks could also be a landing zone for backpacks when your children return from school. Keep things at their level so small children can hang up their coats and grab their backpacks. Install these hanging rods and hooks about 2 1/2 to 3 feet high.
6. Consider Adding a Shelf
Another option is to buy a small shelf unit that will fit inside your closet. There are numerous shapes and sizes available to accommodate almost any size closet. Most are kits that you can easily assemble yourself. Buy the tallest one available to optimize the vertical space within your closet. Stack plastic bins on the shelves to organize loose items. Usually the shelves are only 12 inches deep. This means you will have floor space in front and off to the sides for small trashcans to hold larger loose toys.
7. Develop Good Habits
Once this closet is reconfigured, teach your children that this is their own special closet, built just for them. Because it is their special place, they are the ones responsible for returning toys there at the end of playtime.
Even if a kid’s toy closet is not your final outcome, it pays to get everyone in the house on board with what ever the new improved closet is designed for. This way, you will hopefully never again find strange unrelated items stuffed into this space.
There is no one perfect closet design. If you are designing a toy closet, your storage needs depend on the age of your children and their interests. If you are simply designing a sports closet for the entire family, you will need flexibility because interests like sports come and go like the wind! Keep in mind that as your interests change, you can easily redesign the space with different plastic storage configurations. With plastic containers and a little creativity, you can create effective holding zones for almost any item.
Situation: Too many books and toys and not enough storage. All this clutter and the little girl could not decide what she wanted to play with.
Solution: We downsized the toy collection and got rid of the outgrown games and books. We also reorganized the closet which gave us a bit more room for extra items that did not belong loose in the room. The dog loved the new found floor space!
Situation: This long and narrow room had ample floor to ceiling and wall to wall cabinets but the toys were constantly out and underfoot. The challenge was that the younger child could access the older child’s toys and had not learned how to put them back into tubs. At the same time, she was quite young and only beginning to learn how to put things away for herself. Add too many toys into the equation and this room became a constant challenge and source of stress for mom.
Solution: Purge and sort through excess toys and donate to charity. Organize the toys by type and activity into plastic bins with lids that could not be easily opened by the youngest. Place her toys low and at her level and her older sister’s up and out of the way on the higher shelves. With snap lids that were not quickly opened, the young one could not easily dive in and dump all of the toys while no one was looking. It was also easier to supervise her and keep her focused on one type of activity at a time. The older child now had her games and toys up where she could get to them as she wanted and knew how to put her toys away when she was done playing.
1. There were toys that were no longer used and taking up precious storage space
( Move mouse over picture for after )
“If people ever have a stuffed animal problem and need somebody to help them, I think Kathi is a good choice because she won’t let you make lame excuses. I used to think there was no such thing as too many and now I know that if you have over 100, you should really try to stop. It’s kind of like chocolate, it is hard to stop.”
LR San Diego