As we have added children to our two-bedroom dwelling, our key storage problems have quickly become toys and clothing.
As much as I'd like to tell grandparents to tone it down at Christmas time and birthdays, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't listen, so I haven't bothered. With four children, if each set of grandparents gives each child three toys (like the wise men did Baby Jesus), I would have 24 toys to put away after the holidays. Of course, my kids' grandparents like to do more than that, plus the kids get gifts from their uncles and aunts. You can imagine the creativity needed after the holidays are over when all four children share one bedroom which is also their playroom!
Here are a few ideas I've implemented:
|Mine aren't this cute, but this is the same type from IKEA.|
I purchased 3 under-the-bed storage units, removed the lids (kids never put them back on) and stored one type of thing in each. Currently, one holds dress up clothes and weapons (I have three boys!), another holds doll and Build-a-Bear clothes, and the third holds big cars and trucks. These bins usually look a mess, but no one sees them under the bed.
I keep three baskets under the crib as well. One holds baby toys, the other holds board books safe for babies and my crayon-happy two-year-old to look at without supervision, and a third holds sports equipment like balls, baseball mitts and jump ropes (thankfully my kids are still young enough that we don't have skateboards!).
2. Open shelving instead of toy boxes
Toy boxes seem like they invite dumping. After all, the kids have to find what they're looking for, right? I've found that they also play more with toys they can see. So, I cleared off the big bookshelf in the kids' room and put their favorite toys on it. The top shelf is reserved for the "big kid" things that little brothers can't play with. The bottom shelf is for my two-year-old's favorite things.
3. Rotating toys
We were especially overrun with stuffed animals. I told the kids to pick their favorite three to sleep with (they each narrowed it down to 10--no joke!), then we put the rest in a big mesh bag in the basement. Every once in awhile, we switch them out. I've done the same with toys they've tired of but may be used later by a younger sibling.
4. "Hiding" their books
For a book-loving, type A personality mother, my children's bookshelves were a constant irritation. I would carefully line up their books on shelves and survey my work proudly. "Look, here are all the Curious George books and here are all the Disney books..." They were never too impressed, and when I came back after a good reading session, the shelves bore no resemblance to my careful organization.
Now, I've hidden my daughter's book shelf with the "chapter" and "educational" books inside the closet. It is probably a mess, but I can't see it. The others I put in a cabinet in the hallway that has a latch that is difficult for little hands to open. I think you see where I'm going with that!
Our home has limited closet space because back when it was built (circa 1920), people didn't have as much "stuff". (Hmmm...) The closets are also barely wide enough to hang a hanger. I have one small closet for four kids in the bedroom/playroom and one smaller closet in the bedroom my husband and I share. This is my less-than-perfect-but-works-pretty-well solution:
|Again, mine aren't this cute, but this is one from IKEA.|
I have three dressers in my bedroom. Yes, it's a little tight, but it is essential. All laundry that needs to be folded is brought up to my room. I (or my daughter, the designated laundry person right now) fold it and put it away right there. One dresser has five drawers--one for each of us (except baby). This is for underwear, pajamas, socks and play clothes. Each child can dress him or herself out of his drawer on days we are at home. I keep the clothes for going out in other places which I'll get to in a moment. The baby has his own little dresser, although I may consolidate this in the near future. The other dresser is for my husband's things, sheets and blankets and accessories like ties, belts, etc.
2. Hang by outfits
I try to put an entire outfit on one hanger to conserve space and to make it easier to grab and dress. For pants or skirts that go with more than one top, I will just put them next to each other.
3. Keep little used clothes somewhere else
We only use our dress clothes once a week on Sunday, so I put them on a hanging rod in the basement near my laundry area. This may sound a bit obsessive, but it's actually saved me a lot of time and effort. I have our church clothes color-coordinated and have an outfit for each of us grouped together. I just grab the group that's in the front of the closet--an outfit for each of us and take upstairs for us to wear to church that Sunday. When they are washed and ready to put away, I put that group in the back of the closet so that I can remember what we wore last. It has saved looking for an outfit at the last minute on Sunday morning and the added bonus is that we are ready for family photos (should we ever decide to take one!).
For other articles on this subject visit Borrowed Time Blogging and The LaVans.