5 minute fixes: For toy clutter, kids artwork & more!

5 minute toy storage fix

Confession: Organizing my kids toys is a soul sucking task that I ignore as long as possible.

Do I like the disaster that they live in most days? Nope, it drives me slowly insane. But sometimes it seems like any solution I attempt to give them to better organize their things is only going to last for a few days at best before they break it, lose it, ignore it or worse. But I keep trying anyway because the alternative is anarchy.

We bought the wooden pantry style organizing cabinets photographed above a few years ago. All the toys the kids like to play with downstairs get corralled into these cabinets – one for each kid – and then we shut the doors and forget about what would happen if you opened the doors. Like everything falling out or me having a stroke. My husband grew up with a similar system and everyone survived – no cute baskets or bins required.

But after several years of this awesome ignoring method of coping, I was absolutely itching to get in there and organize it. The clutter levels were starting to drive me loony and there were a few things just dying for a nice basket to live in or a giant something to store all the loose papers and “treasured” artwork that was piled and jammed into every nook and cranny and no longer seemed to be contained by the cabinets. Nothing was sensibly stored with anything and I had had enough.

So. I went to that place with the giant red hypnotizing bullseye that seems to inherit half my husband’s paycheck every month and tried to focus on the prize, within budgetary reason. I ignored the gorgeous wicker baskets and storage systems with all the doodads and went simple. I bought eight (8) small plastic bins with lids for 80 cents each (score!).

Then I went home and worked some voodoo magic. Now I know I called this a 5 minute project, but the truth is this next part took more like two or three hours. But if your kids aren’t future hoarders it might take you less time and if you just hand them the bins and make them do all the heavy lifting, then it really is only about 5 minutes and eight dollars of your time.

So the boring bit: I went slowly through each cluttered, crazy shelf and organized all the little bits into bins, the bigger bits by type and the paper stuff by either a pile to deal with later or a pile destined for the recycling bin. It took forever, because my four year old insisted on “helping” but the end result was that picture above so I’m calling it worth it until they wreck it again.

Sidenote: There are no before pictures because nobody needs to see that disaster.

Each kid got 4 bins and a new lease on life. I got some sanity. But we weren’t done yet.

Another 5 minute fix: Organizing coloring books & artwork

coloring carts

Problem # 1 – Even though I practically filled our recycling bin with paper stuff, we still had a veritable mountain of beloved art projects that had no home.

Problem # 2 – The kids coloring books and magazines were threatening to burst out of the three drawer plastic cart that had been holding them and all the stuff that should have been in the drawers ended up getting piled on the whole cart because of the tight quarters (and lazy).

Solution (Easy) – I bought a second one. It was like $13 so not terrible but maybe not the bargain of the century but it was a FAST and SIMPLE solution that solved both problems.

I went through the drawers and divided it up so that each kid has their own cart and each drawer has a purpose. I even Super Geek Momed out and made handy labels for each drawer so the kids (i.e. the four year old) has a reminder of what should be in each drawer. I am 80% certain they will ignore this but at least I tried, right? And – they look adorable.

labeled drawers

How do you corral the clutter?