3 tips on how to manage the “kid-mess” at home by guest blogger, Maria Siegel

April 12, 2016

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week is off to a great start.

I am beyond excited to have Maria Siegel as a guest blogger today. Maria is the founder and owner of Goldenrod Place Interiors, a professional design and organization company based in Durham, NC. She provides creative design services such as re-imagining a space, sourcing and shopping for furniture and decor, and bringing order to the home clutter.

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Maria’s an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home-mom turned creative entrepreneur. A mother of two, Maria launched her business after her children began school and has never looked back. Spend 5 minutes with Maria and you can tell she is extremely passionate about what she does. Her work is thoughtful and beautiful (like Maria!) and her energy is irresistible. She’s an inspiration for me in so many ways and I know you will find her article, 3 tips on how to manage the “kid-mess” at home, valuable. I’m definitely going to incorporate her ideas into my own house! OK, take it away, Maria!

3 tips on how to manage the “kid-mess” at home by guest blogger, Maria Siegel

Do not be fooled: having kids is a messy endeavor. Beginning with the first day they come home from the hospital, we are negotiating all the “stuff” that comes with childrearing: toys, clothes, shoes, bottles, stuffed animals, etc. Staying organized and maintaining order at home can become a herculean effort. Over the years as both a parent and a professional organizer, I’ve developed a few strategies that have helped me keep a fairly tidy home and not become inundated with kid-clutter. Here are three strategies that have helped me reign in the mess and not compromise my kids’ need to be… well, kids.

3 Tips on How to Manage the “Kid Mess” at Home

1. Purge and Declutter —“Less stuff = less mess.”This is a good mantra to remember because the single most effective strategy to instant tidiness is not having as much stuff to negotiate. As you declutter, begin with categories that will be easy for you and your child to go through, like books and clothes. Then, move on to things like toys and more sentimental belongings. You don’t have to get rid of everything, either. One strategy I use with clients is having their kids pick certain items that can go into temporary storage. We fill one or two large, clear bins and then store these items in another space. The families rotate the items in-and-out over time. You’d be surprised how effective this is with kids. It makes them feel so much better knowing their prized possessions are being stored away, as opposed to given away. (Hint: Use CLEAR bins for easy & quick identification of contents.)

Places like Target, Walmart and The Container Store have several affordable options & sizes for clear storage containers.

2. “Toss & Tidy” — Make Baskets Your Ally — If your children are anything like mine, they love to collect “stuff.” And, based on some informal polling, managing the storage of things like legos, stuffed animals, and “randoms” is what most families struggle with. The easiest solution for kids to manage is throwing things into baskets. You can use clear baskets for easy identification or decorative baskets to hide things. If your kids or teenagers are able to simply toss something into a basket and call it “clean,” they are very likely to do it. Here’s a personal example from my daughter’s room, which was plagued with legos and stuffed animals. We used inexpensive baskets from Target to contain her collection and she hasn’t struggled with clean-up since.  It’s so easy to return items in these baskets when she’s done playing…and my husband and I love the fact that we don’t trip on piles of legos anymore.

Baskets make for an easy, "Toss & Tidy" approach to clean-up for kids.
Baskets make for an easy, “Toss & Tidy” approach to clean-up for kids.

Out of sight, out of mind...baskets are great for things like stuffed animals, legos, random items, etc.
Out of sight, out of mind…baskets are great for things like stuffed animals, legos, random items, etc.

3. Create a Defined “Landing Area” for Arrival & Departure — Do you ever wonder how teachers are able to maintain order in a small classroom with so many kids?  Having been a teacher for over 12 years, I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s all in having clearly defined arrival and departure routines, and designated personal spaces.  When kids arrive to school, they know to put their belongings in their designated cubbies, etc. They know where their homework folder is because it’s ALWAYS in a specific location. You can create the same types of spaces in your home with simple baskets and hooks. At our house, my daughters have always had their own “cubbies” – simple baskets in our entry that store library books, folders, and other randoms. This has helped SO MUCH over the years.  I can’t emphasize it enough. Create a space in your entry or in your garage with hooks and cubbies just like kids have at school and create routines tied to this area. When your kids come home, they can unload in this area and when they depart in the morning, everything is there. Sound easy?  It is…but it requires a few weeks of habit forming routines. I promise it’s worth the up-front time commitment.

Simple baskets in the entry area make storing things like homework folders, lunch boxes and library books a simple endeavor.


Finally, be an example for your kids. If you are invested in the idea of keeping a clean and comforting home, your kids will be as well. We have lots of conversations at our house about the benefits of living in a clean and organized home (or, clean-enough!). These conversations are ongoing and there is back-sliding, but we keep on trying.  And, we require our kids to be part of the clean-up process every day.

Got questions?  Need more ideas?  Feel free to reach out to me: maria@goldenrodplace.com! Want weekly inspiration? Subscribe to my blog over at www.goldenrodplace.com.

Happy Organizing! ~Maria



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