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Organizing with Kids

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Calling all Moms!

We are nearing the end of summer break (by this I mean, I sure hope we are going back to school in a couple of weeks!!!!) and if you haven’t made the time to purge over this longer than usual break, now is the time!

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff these small humans can accumulate? Not only do kids have a tremendous amount of clothes, toys, games, books, treasures, and creations, but they keep eating, growing, and their preferences keep changing! And the worst part . . . they want to keep EVERYTHING!

With school around the corner, now is the time to go through closets, dressers, and playrooms to let go of all unwanted and unneeded belongings.


3 Steps to Getting Your Kids Organized

1. Let's Purge

Get Your Kids Involved. Just because you’re the adult, doesn’t mean that your kids can’t get involved. I know everything always takes longer when kids are involved, but this is a great way to SHOW and TEACH them how to organize their things . . . and the less stuff they have, the less stuff they have to pick up and keep put away.

Kids are so much more likely to get organized and stay organized if they are allowed to make some of the decisions too. Ask them what they like and actually listen to their thoughts - it will make a huge difference. If they tell you they won’t wear something or won’t play with a certain toy – they won’t, so take this opportunity to let it go right then and there!

Make it FUN! Yes, it IS possible to make organizing fun — and if you are going to involve your kids, you’ll HAVE to make it fun . . . or no one will survive (insert crying mom with cocktail in hand)!

My favorite idea is to make a game out of it. We like to see who can pick up the most items or find the most out of place things in each room, create a scavenger hunt, or see who can find the most items that they no longer play with. I always love getting kids involved with where donations can be taken, so we create donation boxes and they get to decide which place they want to take their items to!

Another fun idea is to host a mini fashion show. The kids can take turns trying on their clothes or costumes and then “strutting their stuff” up and down the hallway. This will give you a great opportunity to see what fits and what doesn’t.

Use Incentives. There are so many ways to motivate them, but you know your children the best. Some families will offer incentives for the child who gets through their clothes the fastest; offer to buy one new article of clothing for every 15 they get rid of; or even allow them to help YOU purge your closet after you help them . . . some kids think that is so fun!

If you’re really wanting them to let go of more, you can have them host a garage sale and you could be their customer and offer them small amounts of money to “buy” their things from them – and then these items get donated!

Give them a junk drawer. We call ours creation drawers. My boys love crafts . . . and by crafts, I mean drawing, coloring, and cutting out trillions of little creatures and playing with them – over and over again. Give your kids one drawer, one box, one shelf, whatever works for you, where they can keep all their rock pets, shells, beads, popsicle sticks, and other treasures.

We clean out this drawer together at the end of each month – keeping their favorites, taking photos of some (and then recycling), sending some to friends and family, and saying our final goodbyes to the rest and then recycling or putting them in the trash.

Love it or Lose it. As you go through your kid’s clutter, keep in mind that if they don’t love it, you should lose it… period. There is no point in keeping anything that isn’t loved or valued (yes, this will work for the closet too!)

Love it = Clothes and shoes that fit, clothes that they will actually wear, a variety of outfits that are appropriate for school, play, church, etc. Toys they ACTUALLY play with, are not missing any pieces, and are age appropriate.

Lose it = Clothes and shoes that don’t fit, clothes that they won’t wear, and anything with obvious stains, large rips, or in ratty condition. Toys they do not play with, that are missing pieces, are broken, or are no longer age appropriate.

2. Prioritize and Organize

Make it EASY! Giving too many choices, makes it harder for them to decide. For example, we only keep a handful of books in our children’s rooms - for a couple of reasons:

1. It would take them forever to decide which one they wanted to read before bed - not our goal right before bed!

2. They would read the same one over and over again for a month straight. We love books and especially love re-reading them to see what the kids remember, but we also love reading new books and switching them up based on season, level, and interest.

Having less for them to choose from, will make this process so much easier!

Make it COLORFUL! Kids love color and if they’re like mine, they love to color and help! Whether you decide to add colorful bins, baskets, boxes, labels, or have clear bins so they can see the pretty colors inside, let them help! Do what they will love if you want them to keep it organized. We love to organize by ROYGBIV so my kids practice putting things away in rainbow order – sorry in advance to their teachers and future wives ;) Now it doesn’t always stay this way, but they actually enjoy doing it, so I’ll ride out this beautiful rainbow as long as I can!

Using drawer dividers has made a world of a difference in our home! We love these white drawer dividers for deeper drawers and always use these gorgeous clear drawer dividers for shallow drawers. Keeping belongings divided really helps keep everything in its place.

LABEL everything! This is my favorite part! Whether your kids can read or not, there are so many ways to label with pictures and/or words. Put labels on every drawer, shelf, basket, or bin so they know exactly where everything is supposed to go.

Here is a great way to label with pictures and words! I just googled the topics I was looking for, created a google document, typed the topic onto the image, and printed them! So easy! These bins are no longer available at The Container Store, but I have linked another favorite of mine here.

Here we built a play table using the Trofast Storage Boxes for easy toy storage for the kids. I mean, they have to be able to access the nerf guns quickly, you know ;) I also added our TSL Custom Classic Labels to these bins for a simple look, that is easy for the kids to read. Perfect touch!

These boxes and labels are a quick and inexpensive way to contain and label. I love clear boxes and these are some of my absolute favorites (yes, I may have them in almost every room of my home!). If you're wanting to be able to change the labels regularly, these chalkboard labels are a perfect option for you!

Here are a smaller version of the boxes I used above - the best thing about these clear storage boxes is that they come in 10 different sizes!! I used my label maker and got these boxes labeled with allllll the right details.

3. Put Everything Away

Once you’ve gone through everything and made decisions on what to keep and what to let go of, the next step is to put everything in its proper home. And this may sound obvious to you, but make sure your kids know where to put things away too!

We have kept our cars in this carrying case for years and never plan to change it - we love it so much!

Save, Store, Sell. I know lots of people who want to save certain items for sentimental purposes, store items for the next child, or try to sell them at a garage sale, consignment store, or Facebook Marketplace. If this is true for you, then you’ll need a system.

I love using clear plastic boxes with clearly visible labels. You should have bins for items you want to sell, and other bins for items you want to pass on to the next child label those bins with the details you need (size, season, gender, etc).

Then, create a separate location for anything you want to save as a keepsake — like my all time favorite weathertight storage bins (but don’t get too carried away)!

Someone else or Trash. Obviously, there will be some items that simply need to go in the trash, but you should definitely find an appropriate place to donate the rest. This is also a really good learning opportunity for your children as they can see how their unused items benefit people in need. Oh, and it’s the fastest way to clear the clutter from your house! Check out our list of our favorite local and national places to donate your items on our Giving Back page.


Remember that YOU are the adult, and even though you should try to involve your children, YOU have the final say. Don’t let them guilt you into keeping their favorite shirt that is 5 sizes too small. Some kids want to keep everything, and if you let them, they won’t learn the valuable lessons of purging and organizing! Get creative and make positives out of it.

Kids really benefit watching and helping YOU purge. Create the habit of always letting things go and they will see that this is normal and healthy. And hey, you never know . . . they may teach you a thing or two ;)

What are your best tips for organizing kids clutter?

We would love to see how you and your kids declutter - don't forget to tag us on Facebook or Instagram @thesimplelifeindy!

Happy Organizing!




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