Ever wonder why the art drawer, the junk drawer and the craft closet are always a mess? It is probably because you are trying to store too many things in ONE BOX or on ONE SHELF. When dealing with kids, dedicated storage for the smallest things (pencils! quarters!) makes the biggest difference!
For years, I would have an art cabinet or a closet full of sports equipment that would be perfectly organized, only to have it fall into chaos within a few days. After 10 years of organizing children’s supplies, I realized the answer is in dedicated storage for the most utilized items.
Here are my top ten:
Everytime it’s time for homework, nobody can find a pencil! A plastic jar full of sharpened pencils, refilled once a month solves the problem. Hassle GONE.
Bonus tip: Crayons in bulk – Same concept! ANY utensil that the kids are going to use on a daily basis gets individual storage. No more boxes of markers, crayons, pens and pencils with half of them not working!
Teach kids the value of work and money by letting them earn coins for various small chores. Place a small jar of coins next to the key dish. The adults drop off their keys and their coins and the kids can get their own chore money. NO HASSLE.
Bonus tip: Give kids a random award amount, such as $1.17, so they get a little added coin addition practice!
#3 Star Prizes (also rewards)
Sometimes our kids chose to earn money, but sometimes they would rather earn “stars”. These stars add up to win prizes that I keep in the “star basket”. Right now, there are games, balloon animal kits and watches from Old Navy. By storing the star prizes where the kids can see them and look through them without “messing” up a storage area, rewards are pure fun, NO HASSLE.
Bonus tip: Keep the Star CHARTS right in the same basket. The kids are able to see the prizes every time they earn and mark down a star, keeping motivation high.
Children bring home a TON of artwork and it is a tough decision to throw artwork away. There is also a limited amount of artwork that can be hung on the walls, no matter how many corkboards you have (and I have tried BIG corkboards — see my room-sized one HERE! The solution? An Artwork Basket that holds ALL the artwork straight out of backpacks. After a few weeks, we go through the art together with the kids and pick a few pieces to display. Somehow it is easier to throw away several pieces while choosing to keep a few.
Bonus tip: Invest in an easily-transportable easel to keep messy artwork OUTside!
#5. Construction Paper
MAKING art needs organization too! A Construction Paper Basket has made our lives immeasurably easier! The paper doesn’t fall down like it does while on a shelf and it is completely accessible to the kids at all times.
Bonus tip: STOCK UP on construction paper during back-to-school sales and keep the basket full throughout the year!
#6. Diapers and Wipes
Keeping diaper changing supplies in a few baskets or drawers throughout the house means they are easily accessible to both adults AND the baby who needs a change. Fetching a diaper independently both builds confidence and helps with potty training instincts.
Bonus tip: Have you tried the new Amazon wipes? Cheaper than Target and the smell is super nice!
You might have noticed that most of these storage solutions fosters independence with schoolwork and artwork. Well, the same goes for snacks! It is super easy to keep a container stocked with 1-3 kinds of “hard” fruit. Stick with apples, oranges, etc. as opposed to easily-bruised and spoiled peaches, berries or bananas. Store the fruit OUTSIDE of the kitchen. Instead of the kids constantly opening the fridge or underfoot in the kitchen rifling through cabinets for a snack, they can just grab a healthy snack from the fruit jar.
Bonus tip: Buy SMALL fruit for this fruit jar. Kids will not waste a piece of fruit by only taking a few bites and the smaller sizes are typically cheaper. Clementines are a favorite in our house!
Keep these separate from other paper supplies in a basket and your kids can help set the table, grab a napkin for quick cleanup or a nose swipe. If the napkins get a little messy in the box, no worries! Just give the box a shake to settle them in the bottom.
Bonus tip: Do your kids like to grab a quick drink of water, but end up climbing on the counter to get a cup? Try a little basket of small plastic cups at kid level!
I have at least 10-12 combs in a bucket by the front door for quick touchups. Instead of running to the bathroom and rifling through a drawer to find a comb covered in toothpaste, I can just grab a comb and do quick touch-ups on the boys’ way out the front door. Why combs in bulk? They seem to vanish like socks, so having some backups reduces stress!
Bonus tip: The dollar store has packs of 12+ combs for $1. I pick up a pack whenever we start to get low.
#10. Bulk Hand Sanitizer
This isn’t straightforward storage like the other top ten, but it is one of the most important logistical changes that has made a difference for our family. Instead of having little bottles of hand sanitizer buried in a purse or junk drawer, buy a giant one and place it by the front door. Kids sanitize their hands when they get home from school or come inside from playing and they aren’t spreading germs all over the house just room LOOKING for the hand sanitizer!
Bonus tip: Put a little bottle in the driver’s side storage of your car too. After pumping gas, visiting a park and feeding the ducks, after diaper changes — you will use it ALL the time!
The key is DEDICATED storage, no matter how small. Children cannot go through a basket of art supplies without making a mess of things, but they can grab a handful of crayons from the crayon bucket and the top piece of construction paper from the paper basket. Start with these 10 and customize your family storage until the “system” works seamlessly for you!