organizing kids’ creative materials
You know how sometimes a certain room or closet or stash in your house just gets … out of control? Right. I’m in the same boat, sister. For the past several months our family has been chipping away at decluttering our home. Bit by bit by bit, we are making progress — slowly but surely. And it feels amazing. You can follow this sharing on Instagram… specifically with the #BHAdventuresInDecluttering hashtag.
Our most recent decluttering / organization project was to tackle the kids’ creative materials. Now, I’m not talking about their school papers, awards, artwork, memorabilia. That’s pretty much its own topic. In fact, years ago I made this video that explains how I manage, organize, store, and display those items in scrapbooks.
What I’m talking about is all the stuff our kids use on a day-to-day basis with their creative and crafting endeavors. Anyone else in this boat? I have always encouraged creativity and cultivated this part of their life, but holy canoly, does it get messy! Here was one hot mess in one corner of our home office (before we attacked it). We’re very normal. We have our messes. Yes, there’s a measuring cup. And a toothbrush. I can’t make this stuff up.
Creating a plan
Ever since moving the business out of our home, I rarely work in our home office. It’s been easier for the kids to take over. But David and I desired claiming back some of our space. We still have a need for office-based tasks and projects. Our decision? Separate the home office from the “office playland.” This is a term Crew has made up so it has stuck in our family.
The first step in this recent project was for David and I to get on the same page about the bigger picture. You know … begin with the end in mind (forever and always yo). We were able to define the goal for each space — the home office and the office playland, which is basically an open room near our kids’ bedrooms. In short, the home office is still a family space and the kids will continue to do homework and some projects in there, but all the little day-to-day creative projects (and trust me — it’s daily)? Those are 100% to take place in the kids’ office playland now. Once we had this figured out, we had a little “family council” with the kids and got them on board.
Once we explained the grand plan, we broke it down and outlined the method we would be following together … as a family. I took the opportunity to teach our kids about S.P.A.C.E. and I’m happy to share this with you, too. This is something I learned about 15+ years ago and it has always stuck because it’s a formula that works and I’ve used the strategy time & time again!
SORT: Identify what’s important to you and group similar items.
PURGE: Decide what you can live without and get rid of it (donate, sell, store, or throw away).
ASSIGN: Decide where the items you keep will go. Make it logical, accessible, and safe.
CONTAINERIZE: Make sure they’re sturdy, easy to handle, the right size, and that they look good. The art of containerizing is to do it last not first.
EQUALIZE: Spend 15 minutes a day to maintain what you’ve done.
The source of this brilliance is organizing expert and author Julie Morgenstern. Our children now have this memorized … hopefully for life. Crew was our scribe as we reviewed the steps and Claire was holding the clipboard for this picture.
Getting to work!
Starting with the “S” in S.P.A.C.E. we had two phases of sorting. First was to get all things “office playland” (the kids’ creative materials) out of the home office and up in the bonus room space. Once it was all gathered and we had a table set up to help, then we could begin with the real sorting. You know … sorting the stuff into categories / types of materials. Per usual, organizational projects often get way messy before there are any signs of ORDER. ; )
In order to keep our categorized piles somewhat orderly during this phase, we used our hallway and some sticky notes on the wall to create our piles.
our categories for sorting
Office supplies and tools
Fuzzy stuff and pipe cleaners
Flowers and ribbons
During all of this sorting, my kids were NOT sad to uncover oodles of letter stickers, among many other treasures! I had to keep reminding them to stay focused on the organizational task-at-hand and they would be able to play with it all soon enough.
Side note: While I have gotten rid of (donated) the vast majority of my scrapbooking supplies over the years (because with Project Life®, I don’t need a big stash) … I intentionally hung on to some things for my kids. And I’m so glad. Everybody wins.
We moved on to “P” – purging, throwing away stuff that was literally garbage. Then “A” is for assign. We knew that in the office playland this unit would be the assigned storage location for all of the kids’ creative supplies. Our super talented friend John made this for us several years ago to fit in this nook. We cleared out the few decorative pieces and made this completely functional… not so much decorative anymore. Practicality for the win!
Organizing kids’ cra— *STUFF* is not for the faint-hearted. Pippa was nearly as helpful as my 7 year old. Ha! But you guys. HE (Crew) totally took this picture below without us knowing! So way to go, my little documenter!
On to “C” — containerize. Taking our unit measurements with us, we trekked over to IKEA where we picked up a bunch of these white storage containers. We knew how many we needed and which sizes would work and that made our shopping very intentional and not at all haphazard (as we all know it’s tempting to be when we see cute containers!).
We placed each category of item in its respective container and moved the accompanying sticky note over at the same time. Easy-breezy and keeping things organized along the way.
Every bin was placed on the shelves. We tried to keep the most-used stuff more easily accessible (lower), knowing that some things would need to be higher, but the kids can use a step stool to get what they need anytime.
The last step was to label those bins properly. Nothing wrong with bright colored sticky notes, but I’m a fan of the classic label maker. White labels on white bins? Yes, please.
Did I mention that all of these pictures were taken with my iPhone? No fancy photography happening for this impromptu weekend project, friends. These aren’t necessarily Pinterest-worthy, but that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to find practical solutions that work for my family … and I snapped some pictures along the way to share with you, in case it inspires you in your organizational quests at home.
Speaking of what’s not pretty … here’s a folding table in the office playland. Claire has her half; Crew has his. Porter has outgrown the need for a space like this.
This new space and system have been in place now for a good chunk of our summer and so far, so good! The kids are in there daily — being creative. It makes me so happy and it makes them so happy. And I don’t have the clutter in my face every day, which makes me feel more peaceful. See? Organization is certainly a valuable principle in life. Can I get an amen?
Oh — don’t forget about the “E” — Equalize! The kids understand that while they can be creative, it is helpful to tidy a little every day and put things back where they belong. We’ll see how well they do with that. ; )