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When you have a child or two that you look after or live with, your home will undoubtedly be affected - things may not be where you left them, a room can be turned into a den or a shop or a library in quick succession. For most of us, it's great to see the children feel at home and that they feel comfortable to make the rooms their own, however, with children comes a lot of clutter and if you need a bit of guidance on how to cope with the clutter (whether it be books, toys, clothes or general unidentifiable clutter!) here are some tips.
Routine and division of labour! At the end of each day or session have a routine tidy-up. Make it part of the jobs that you all have to do and leave plenty of time to do it so you do a good job. Ask the children to do easy putting away, sorting puzzles into the right boxes and low book shelf filling etc. Then you are free to do tricky or high jobs.
Storage Boxes: These are brilliant for keeping a room tidy. They come in all sorts of sizes, they can stack safely or slip onto a shelf and they are hard-wearing. The best thing to do is label the boxes with a photo of what goes inside so the little ones can match the type of toys with the picture and put things away. Write the word too so they become more and more familiar with the letters too.
Bits 'n' pieces: It can be very frustrating if things get lost. Incomplete puzzles or blocks game pieces missing. The best thing is to store the puzzles pieces in little re-sealable plastic bags (with air holes punched in!) so the pieces are in a bag as well as the box. Then you can store them without worrying that pieces will slip out. Or you can use the pull-string laundry bags that come with some washing powders. These can be easy for the children to open and shut too. Children's shoe boxes are great for storing accessories and bits of games or toys that can easily get lost. They also stack nicely and are easy for the children to use as they are kiddie size. Biscuit tins are ideal to use to store treasures or jewellery. Washing powder boxes are just the right size to store magazines or folders. Egg boxes are great to store tiny bits and pieces like paper clips or the ends of chalks and crayons for craft.
Don't Get Everything Out Every Day: Only get a few boxes of toys out each day to keep things new and fresh; rotate the toys on display. Offer a choice of 6 books from the bookshelf rather than allowing the children to choose from the whole 30 books and run the risk of getting them all over the floor... another things to clear up!
Hooks: These are super for hanging all sorts of things and can be a great space saver as well as an easy option when it comes to tidying up. Have aprons etc on hooks so the children can access them and use them rather than hiding them away where they may be forgotten to be used! Keep them low so all can use them.
Making a mess is not really a problem when you have a good, simple and effective way to tidying up afterwards!