Boy, can kids’ bedrooms be a challenge! Trying to get kids organized can be tough and trying to get them to keep their rooms clean is even harder. I don’t have the secret to keeping their rooms spotlessly perfect at every moment but I do have a few tips that should make things more bearable for both parents and kids.
Make sure furniture is kid sized.
Every feature and piece of furniture in a child’s bedroom should be kid sized and kid friendly. So often, parents buy tall 3-4 drawer dressers and the kids can only comfortably reach the second drawer for the first 6-7 years of their lives. At the same time, parents expect the children to put their clothes away. This is setting a child up for failure.
Even adults have a hard time keeping our things picked up, even when we can reach the drawers and see into them. How would you feel if you had to put your clothes into a drawer a foot or more taller than you are?
Besides, tall chests can be dangerous in a child’s room. The kids, because they can’t always reach the top, will pull out the bottom drawer and stand on it to reach things. Some children who do this end up tipping their dressers over on top of themselves, which can seriously injure them. Another thing to consider is that if the drawers don’t slide easily, little fingers can get pinched.
Keep everything low.
Use low shelves as much as you can for things the children need to reach. Save any upper shelves for long term storage or decorations that only mom and dad need to be able to access.
Lower the rods in the closets. Parents often get frustrated because children don’t keep their clothes hung up. Try standing on your tip toes and reaching as hard as you can to hang things and you will understand why they don’t do it.
Place things like coat hooks, bulletin boards, and shelves all down low. Don’t forget to hang children’s pictures at their eye level, not yours.
Control the clutter.
There is no law that says you must keep every toy your child receives or every paper he colors on. You are the adult– the one who needs to be practical and in control of your emotions. Decide how many toys will fit reasonably in your child’s room and get rid of the rest. Don’t eliminate things while the child is present or every item he hasn’t touched for months will suddenly become the favorite toy he can’t live without.
Sometimes, when my kids received an overwhelming number of toys, I would box some of them and store them away. Then, every once in a while, I would trade them out and the kids felt like they were getting “new” toys. This is another way to reduce the clutter.
Take into account your child’s responsibility level, too. A 3 year old can help keep three containers of toys under control but not five or six. An 8 year old can be responsible for a few more.
Label bins, containers and boxes.
Kids learn their colors pretty early on so place things in colored containers for easy clean up. For example, all the marbles go in the red box, the crayons go in the green box, etc. You can also cut out pictures to place on the end of the boxes to illustrate which items belong in those boxes.
Remember to keep children’s bins and containers small and light weight so the kids can manage them.
Make sure children have small clothes hampers and small trash cans in their rooms.
I knew one mom who was constantly complaining because her kids would leave their dirty clothes on the floor but they had no hampers in their rooms. They had to walk through three rooms to put their clothes in a hamper, which caused much of the problem.
These are just a few things you can do to make it easier to manage kids’ bedrooms. We include a lot more tips like this in our Saving with Kids e-book collection, which is jam packed with ideas to help with kids, not just this area but in all aspects of life. For more information, you can check out Saving with Kids here.
photo by: pintoy
When purchasing a toy box do not buy round ones.
My father bought my oldest son a big plastic humpty dumpty one and it was the most awkward thing.
The lid was heavy with no handholds and it didn’t fit against a wall or in a corner well.
The lid was never on and the toys spilled over the top. It was also very large and the room was small.
So when purchasing furniture keep in mind the amount of space you have. You must leave room for the child to play and relax or the perfect room is far from it.
I agree with you grandma. I didn’t have time or room to write all the things I had written in the kids e book but one thing I recommend is not to buy any toy box at all. Besides children smashing their fingers in them (even with a safety hinge)they are like a big black hole.
Everything gets dump in there, you can never find anything easily in it and the kids don’t want to bother to or are to small to dig down into it so they play with just the few toys on top.
They also seem to take up more floor space then shelves which go up instead of out.
I know this is not about cleaning but about a funny mess to clean.
When I was 8 & 3/4 months pregnant my eldest had just turned 4. For his birthday he got a tonka dump truck so for Christmas he got a Tonka steam shovel. One night he was playing in his room so I went in to say good night to him.
He was sitting on the bed playing in what he called snow.
A pillow had a tiny hole that I hadn’t fixed and he had made it bigger and all the stuffing was all over the room. He told me he was cleaning up the snow that fell.
I picked him up and put him to bed in our bedroom and spent the next 3 hours vacuming up the snow.
For one small pillow it sure held a lot of stuffing.
My youngest son was born 2 days later.
I am glad things like that don’t upset me and my husband laughed when he got home and I told him what happened.
I also learned to fix even teeny tiny holes in pillows as soon as I saw them.
thought you could use a laugh.
Cute, cute story. What is it with kids, pillows and stuffing. I had a grandson who would pick at all of his pillows and pull the stuffing our. It got to where I had to double stitch all of the little pillows I made them.
They can figure out the weirdest things.
Wendy (Give Love Create Happiness)
Those are some great ideas! Thank you
I totally agree with all of your organizational tips. If my house is not picked up, I can not relax. Clutter completely stresses me out. And in my house, if mama’s stessed, everybody’s stressed. But how do you deal with all the gifts/toys your kids receive at Christmas or birthdays? It is overwhelming to me, but I don’t want to get rid of something that someone else has spent their hard earned money on. Cause I know if I was the giver that happened to I would be upset.
My youngest is four and still in her “nursery” room and we are in the process of redoing a room for her to move into and I can’t wait. I want shelves on ever inch of wall space to put everything away. I never planned for her to still be in this small space when I planned out her nursery and she has completely out grown it.
I love your email and I believe that I was cut from the same cloth. And I grew up in Kansas, maybe thats it.
Okay Stephanie, I’m guilty as charged. I was finishing up my post for tomorrow and in it I mention how kids don’t need a shoe box of crayons only one box. When I read it to Tawra she said “That’s fine but what do you do when Nan (that’s me, their grandma) buys them a couple of new boxes each year”
So I am in the dog house for getting them so many toys. : ) But it is a grandma’s job you know. : )
To answer your question on what to do with all the nice gifts your daughter received you can do a few things. Right before Christmas or birthdays go through your child’s toys and get rid of as many as you can of their old ones, broken ones or give away gently used ones. This will help make room for new in coming ones. In a years time (excluding favorites) children can out grow many of their toys so that makes it easier to get rid of them.
You can also box up and store part of the toys and store them in another part of the house then every few weeks bring them out and pack away the “old” ones for awhile.
You can also divide them up and pack some away to save for the kids to take on a road trip, doctors visits or other times when you need to entertain them with “new” toys.
Last if you feel comfortable doing it talk to the grandparents etc. and ask them to get not quite so many or as expensive gifts.
Even though Tawra was teasing me about buying the kids toys she knows I spend at times only pennies on their toys and she is free to toss or give them away as needed without hurting my feelings. But our relationship is such we can do that and I understand at times that isn’t so easy with some grandparents.
Hope this helped a little. Someone else might have some better suggestions.
speaking of old crayons, can one melt them and put them in molds to make candles? i remember one time in school our art teacher had us make snowmen for xmas gifts for our parents and well, i know the finished product had a black hat, red scarf and even an orange nose and black eyes and the buttons going down the belly were black but for the life of me i cant remember how we did it…
so if anyone does make candles i would like to know can you make candles with using old crayons?
that would be a neat thing to do and it would make nice gifts too…
jill, i hope if i try this i wont have another fiasco like i did when i made the homemade liquid soap…. hehehehee :D (remember i told you about that and with what the garbage men had to deal with?)… hehehhe :D
Yes, Rose, it is possible to melt the old crayons. Simply use a muffin tin and liners (I don’t know what the oven temperature would be, though).
You can create a crayon with varying shades of the same color. OR you can make a rainbow-crayon.
I notice that Crayola has a device that lets you make new crayons from old. Don’t know how much it is.
Yes I remember. I have heard some good ones but that one was at the top of the list Rose. : )
we are still laughing at that one… my mom asks me all of the time (she’s 81) … “rose are u making soap for the garbage men again soon? hehehehe :D … ” … and bc of the soap issue and then when i decluttered my house and had lots of garbage, the driver gave me a bit of a hard time and well bc of that mom suggested i make cookies to thank them… and when i did that, i wasnt paying attention to them cooking and i burnt them … i ended up giving them a subway gift certificate for lunch (there are 2 men that work this route, one driver and one who does the real work on the back end of the truck)…
my mom was like “those poor men! first your soap fiasco, then your garbage piled high like mt fuji and now your cooking!” all the while she is saying this and laughing at the same time! …
i tell ya jill, it was really like a scene on a tv show… truly funny! … hehehehehehehe :D
i am not sure if the subway sub place is in ur area but you can get a huge sub (your choice of like 10 different subs on different flavored breads (they are delish!) for like $5/each)…
i normally dont eat there but my kids do and say the subs are great!
In response to Stephanie’s post about kids getting so many gifts, one idea we have come up with is to ask the grandparents to give lessons as a gift. Its very important to us that our kids learn to swim (grandparents live on a lake) so quite often the grandparent will pay for one session of swim lessons (one session is 6 weeks long) as a birthday or Christmas present. They will still get the child a small gift so there is something to open, but the swim lessons are the main gift, which is something they will use the rest of their life.
i knew a lady at our paper route business… for xmas she and her husband made their kids give all the old toys that were in still good and decent condition to the orphanage and they also had to donate one of the new presents also to the orphanage…
her and her husband had come from large famiiies and well she said the kids were always given lots of toys so it was best to share with the kids in the orphanage…
and to be quite honest, the kids didnt mind giving up one and in many cases more than one of their gifts to the orphanage … and yes the families knew of this and didnt seem to get upset or anything like that… in fact, the families did donate to the orphanage as well…
it wasnt like the gift wasnt appreciated bc the children did appreciate the gift but they felt it was better to give than to receive and didnt mind sharing…
the kids were really well behaved adn had wonderful manners…
they were really nice people too… they didnt work long at the paper route bc the husband was between jobs …. they eventually moved to orlando …
thought i would share tha with you too…
Like y’all I had a toy issue. 1st I asked for toys only on b-days and xmas and easter. Also, one gran was ok with giving all 4 boys a year pass to zoo or museum or state park pass instead of junk ( also requested matching sheet sets ’cause the 12 yr old wanted to know what that was like ’cause I always second hand and most of the time something is missing) :)
I raised my 2 sons in apartments with little room for people let alone toys. So I learned a few tricks on keeping the boys happy.
When they got big gifts like tonka stuff or outside toys they were labeled grandma toys. They played with them for a while at home and then they moved out to my mothers house. It worked out great because she didn’t have to buy things to have stuff for the boys to play with when we were there.
When ever we moved we would tell the boys to price the toys and we would have a garage sale. The boys kept the money they got for the toys they sold.
Now my eldest has 3 children and has a very small house so not much room for storage but they do have a large yard.
I told him a few years ago to cut down on gifts of toys he should ask the grandparents to split the cost of something more expensive and useful. The children have2 sets of grandparents on their mothers side and one set from our side. Lots of toys.
One year we bought a year membership to the pool and activity centre in their town. The kids get swimming lessons, judo, dance and gymnastics. It is $500. for the family of 5, and it is good for the entire year. And split between the 6 of us not that much.
For our grandson’s 9 birthday we bought him a good lap top. He loves computers and with this it has the web cam and we put skype onto it so I get to talk to the little ones when ever they or I want.
It sure is fun to sit and talk and have my 2 year old grandson in the background saying luv grandma and blow kisses. My 4 year old granddaughter shows me dances she is learning and my grandson just talks and looks at the little ones and rolls his eyes.
We always pick up little gifts as well since some gifts just don’t wrap well like swimming lessons.
But doing it this way the kids get something they need as well as want without too much stuff to find places for.
Thanks for all the ideas. I don’t know how well this will go over with the in-laws, but I definately know I can talk to my mother about some of these ideas. I have always likes her getting cash, because that goes into savings for her college fund and what better gift to give someone-a college education. But that was a whole other post wasn’t it. Have a great day all and thanks again for all the great ideas.
For organizing kid’s things once you’ve weeded them out – IKEA, IKEA, IKEA! I haven’t found anywhere/anything else that is as multi-functional, small space designed, sturdy, practical and resonably priced for children’s furniture and organization (and adults too!) I highly recommend their Trofast line for kids.
BTW, if you have an IKEA store near you, you can’t eat out anywhere else for cheaper.
Stephanie about the inlaws reaction. Try this.
My sons mother in law and her girlfriend hate me with a passion.
So instead of me coming up with the solution I left it to my son.
He casually mentioned that Sean wanted a computer for his birthday and they couldn’t afford a good one so mom and dad were going to chip in.
Now MIL decided that she would chip in as well so they could get a great computer. She didn’t want us to be the good grampa and grandma.
Now she is so happy that SHE came up with the solution to expensive gifts for the grandchildren.
My son was sort of worried about her thinking it was her idea, and worrying about our feelings.
My answer to that is who cares.
As long as the ending was a good one.
My teenage daughter has a terribly messy room, but she gets very angry, defensive and tearful if I tell her she needs to clean it up. Any ideas? I have considered just cleaning it up when she goes to summer camp, but she is very upset when I’ve done that in the past–she’s very private and likes to keep things to herself.
Harriet, oh the joys of teens. I do love them to death. I now have 4 teen grandkids whose parents are struggling with the same thing. Before I start and a few of you who get all puffed up and say “Well I have no problem with my teens cleaning their room” let me just say instead of being prideful about it get down on your knees and thank God because chances are it had nothing to do with your parenting but your child’s personality. Now that is not to say that we shouldn’t make sure we train them from the time they are little on how to keep their room but something strange often happens when they hit their teens.
First let me say if you have been faithful training them, the teen years can just be a lapse for awhile and then when they leave home and/or get married you will one day walk into their new home and think “did aliens come and take my child and replace them with a clean machine?” But like I said that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep on top of them but that you may have to relax your standards for a little while. Not throw them out just relax them and change them a little.
I had to laugh at my teen grandson this summer. I was going to help them clean their rooms and when I walked into his room there was 2 huge piles of clothes. I took one look and said we have got to get this organized. He said “But Nan it is. That pile over there is dirty clothes and that pile over there is clean.” As you can see they are like aliens. They don’t speak our language, eat the same, listen to the same music and most of all don’t think like us. As you can see you need to keep a sense of humor which I know is hard when in the middle of it all.
Anyway for a more practical answer what I would do it once a month or once every 2 weeks depending on your situation, you go in with your daughter together and both of you clean it up. There maybe some pulling out of hair and gnashing of teeth but make her do it anyway. I would make a specific date like the first Sat. of every month or something like that and schedule it in. She can’t make plans for that day to do anything until it is done and you can’t either. It is just as important that you honor that time too and not make plans yourself.
Maybe have something for a reward for both of you that you can enjoy together when you get done. She may roll her eyes at first and dig in her heels but if you put on music she likes or you guys visit and talk (try not to be a drill sargent) you may find you both enjoy doing this. Now I don’t have my head in the clouds and realize this may not work for all teens. You do need to work with her and if a reward is not motive enough then you may have to take away privileges and things like that.
One main thing is to lower your standards a little. For example if she gets the blankets thrown up over her bed compared to every wrinkle out of it that is ok. It is so important to pick the right battles with teens. And the best punishment for a teen which they all hate is to remove their bedroom door as a last resort. I know that sounds awful but like I said it is a battle with teens often and only the strongest one will win and it has to be you that wins for your child’s sake. Deep down they are counting on you to stand firm,solid and unmovable (bendable, flexible but not unmovable) because everything else in their world is shifting and crashing around them.
I don’t have room here for more but I have written a ton of other ideas in our Savings With Kids e book. if you or any one else needs some more help.
Thanks, ladies, for your advice. Of course you’re right. I handed her a garbage bag a little while ago and told her to put all her outgrown clothes in it. One step at a time. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to see the FLOOR again sometime?
Ah! As a teenager my dad called my room “the landfill.” My theory was that all the stuff I needed would be on top of the pile! Now it’s different. For example, I have a coded guide to find my spices, letting me know what shelf and lazy suzan they’re on, and whether I have multiples of any. It’ll be okay, the messy stage can go away!
I never really had aproblem with messy rooms with the boys. The rooms were so small they had to be kept reasonable or they couldn’t open the door. I figured I could always shut the door if it got too bad.
My mother though one day told my sister and I that we had to clean our rooms like NOW.
We did what most teens do and shoved stuff under the bed and in the closet. We went out and had fun until supper time ate supper and went up to our rooms to relax.
My mom had dumped everything we had hidden plus all the drawers were emptied on the bed. We had to put it away before we could even see the bed. But it was done by bedtime or we would have been sleeping on the floor.
Not a nice thing for mom to do but we did keep our rooms neater.
With 13 rooms to keep clean working from home 7 days a week mom didn’t have time to argue or to do it herself.
One book I read on keeping the house clean asked the question: Why is it that the dirty clothes hamper has a pile of dirty clothes on top, but it is empty? If the lid to the hamper gets in the way, remove it! Then the dirty clothes will go IN the hamper! I really liked that thinking! So, I work to find out what is hampering with the plan and remove the obstacle if possible.
Good tip Sheri. I wrote a whole section on this in our Laundry e book and have mentioned it in some of my articles how when I was first married my husband was so good about throwing his clothes on top of the hamper but never got them into the hamper. Then we made our first trip to visit my in laws and stayed in my husband’s old room. It was there I discovered the problem. He had had no lid on his hamper growing up so I went home removed our lid and never had a problem again. You are right. I always say if something is not working look at it and figure out why then fix it.
I know many people struggle with getting their cabinets to be organized and for things to fit in there often not realizing you can adjust most shelves to fit your needs better. We need to start looking at the little things like this to make our lives easier.
Don solved our hamper problem. He was browsing through a tool and man gadget store and came home with a collapible bin. Made of nylon and when you open it up it is a large round container. It fits in the bathroom cupboard and that is where the dirty clothes go.
Then he went back and picked up 3 bigger ones. They are great as when not in use they are about the size of an Xtra large pizza. and fit in almost anywhere.
Great for holding comforters, sheets and soft stuff you only really use for company. All the bedding is in one container.
Got rid of the futon that was really just a hold all and now I am getting a wardrobe with storage for sheets and towels.
When the kids come I have air mattress’s 1 queen size and 5 small ones for the children.
It will be nice to have more storage and a place for them to unpack the suitcases and hang things.
Still no proper guest room but family doesn’t mind too much and children love air mattress’s in the living room, or the office.
If your children must share a room (as my brothers and I did when we were younger), different-colored or patterned containers are a great idea. One color or pattern per child.
My daughter was the worst at keeping her room clean. About every 6 months she and I would have a clean up day and vacuum, wash spread and curtains and dust all the baseboards and behind the furniture. The rest of the time, if I got tired of looking at the mess, I just closed the door. My husband used to get really upset at the mess but this was not a battle I felt was important enough to raise the roof over.
Now, she is married and has 2 little kids and her house is immaculate. You’d never know this was the teen who used to put all her clothes on the floor or in the hamper (even if it was clean because she was too lazy to hang it back up). She learned to do her laundry early because I did not want to wash the same clothes every week when she didn’t even wear them. Her kids are allowed to play and mess up their rooms but it must be clean before they come out for dinner. They are pretty good at it and I don’t understand how she gets them to do it because it didn’t work for her. Most likely Jill is right – different kinds of people. Anyway, it is nice to see her doing such a good job.
Now, my son, a different story. At home, he was always tidy. His condo now – my husband says he takes after me. If it is not bothering him, it stays where he puts it. But it is his home and I don’t fuss with him because I don’t have to live there. When we visit, I ask if I can help him do the dishes or straighten up. Sometimes he says yes, other times he just wants us to visit and leave everything as is. Works for me. I have enough trouble keeping my own house tidy. :)
Thank you Maggie. I really needed to hear that, I have been so worried about my daughter and the state of her room. Worried that she wouldnt look after her kids in a clean home when the time comes. Its good to know that the problem may not be permanent.
I dont mind a little mess but hate dirty!
Funny. Reading through this I saw a comment I made 9 years ago about my daughter’s disgusting room. Now she is 23, home with me because of Covid, and she gets sarcastic if *I’m* not clean enough.
You gotta laugh. Love as them as hard as you can, do the best you can for them, and before you know it, they’ll be complaining that you didn’t load the dishwasher correctly. EYEROLL!
So true Harriet. LOL That’s part of why I love being a grandma. I get to see my grand kids putting my kids through all the “fun” they put me through. : ) Wow! I know you have been with us for a long time. Thanks for sticking with us.