So, over the next week I'll be saying stuff about my living room. Not that I know a whole lot...but maybe it will help you figure out how to organize/not organize your space!
First - I have 4 kids. 3 of them are professional mess makers. Which can present quite the dilemma if I'd like my house to ever be orderly!
This not only drives me crazy...the poor, neat, child - String Bean - is driven to twitching many days!
Here's a (pretty typical) cycle: Toys get played with...then left out...then tripped on by a parent...then the child goes to bed and hasn't cleaned up...then the parent has to clean up. The child gets away with being lazy and messy, and the parent is upset and exhausted from doing more than they should.
That is how I felt all the time over the past few months.
So, toys have been disappearing.
I have gone through ALL of their toys and gotten rid of everything that is broken, missing pieces, or they don't absolutely LOVE. I placed a cap on how many baby dolls/stuffed animals can be in the house - and all 3 girls have to agree which ones make the cut. (They have to come to an agreement in a specified amount of time....say, 1 day....or I get to choose which ones go away. That has proven to be extremely motivating.)
Is our house spotless?
(This is what happens when you go to the bathroom alone.)
(In fact, yesterday, it was an utter and complete disaster. I meant to take a picture to show you how all of the living room floor was covered with toys...but I forgot. Please use your imagination.)
What the downsizing means, is this - the kids are actually able to keep up with, AND put away the toys they DO have. Even Boy Bean. (Who is 2).
My goal is not to have a spotless house - we DO live here! -
my goal is to have a house where everyone is able to work together to keep it tidy.
The children are overwhelmed if they have too many toys to choose from or put away. So when I say I've gotten rid of things, I mean this:
I got rid of the play kitchen (that they didn't play with) and ALL the food and dishes that went with it;
I got rid of the dollhouse and all the furniture (they didn't play with it - and the furniture always ended up under my couch);
75% of their stuffed animals disappeared;
there are no puzzles accessible without adult assistance;
no crayons or coloring books can be played with without asking permission;
and all toys containing small (easily lost) parts were sent elsewhere - unless they expressly asked for it to stay.
I'm really not a mean and horrible mom.
The Beans still have plenty to play with!
In fact, much of the time, they are using my living room blankets and every pillow we own to make forts, or they are hunting for Waldo, or reading, or playing with matchbox cars, or pretending to be fairies or princesses or explorers.
Trust me - these kids have plenty to occupy them!
Here is what our space looked like on Tuesday:
Then, on Tuesday night, My Love said the most marvelous sentence ever -
"Honey, do you want to re-arrange the living room?"
He speaks my Love Language.
(Which, if you are keeping track, now includes 1. Re-arranging furniture 2. Food 3. Sales)
So, after 2 hours of work - after the kids were in bed - the space looked like this:
(This is your sneak-preview...the entire room was re-arranged...but I'm not ready to show you yet!)
(The leather-ish chair is still in the same spot. I am in the hunt for a beautiful ottoman.)
Every thing has a place - and the kids (mostly) remember where it is....one day, the canvas buckets will be pretty ones that haven't been sat in and stepped on. That day is not today.
Oh, and please don't be offended at the gender-specific bucket names, my Beans came up with them. The titles make sense to the kids - and they know exactly what goes in each bucket.
The blue chair has been with us for 3 years now...and the slipcover is washable!
This little tool box was a thrift store find for $1 when I was decorating Boy Bean's nursery. Now, he uses it for storing his matchbox cars and toting them around.
The Medium Car Basket - $1 from Dollar Tree. It holds all cars/planes that are not matchbox size or Large battery operated items
(This bookcase is near the front of the room)
We do have other toys, but they are in the Bean's rooms: a small container of mega blocks, another bookcase of children's books, numerous instruments, a basket of stuffed animals/dolls, and a large bucket of dress up clothes. We were also given all the gear for the My Little Pony Town, which is kept in clear plastic tubs under the staircase. They must ask permission to pull out the Ponies, and they (should) put all other toys away before the Ponies come out. That doesn't always happen - but we're getting there!
This is the best system we've ever had for keeping things tidy - it works about 80% of the time. :)
What do YOU do to keep the Kid toys/grown-up gear, tidy?