Organizing Kids' Rooms

Do the piles of toys, books, and stuffed animals seem to grow faster than children themselves?
Here are some creative ideas to help you and your kids get their rooms under control.

Stuffed Animal Organizer
Children love to be surrounded by their friends, so keep their stuffed animals within sight and within reach. Make a pocket quilt from the fabric of retired shirts, or simply use a hanging fabric shoe organizer. Each stuffed animal, with its face and arms peeking out of a pocket, will be neatly displayed and protected.

Toy Bins
Plastic wheeled storage bins keep toys together and are easy to tuck away when playtime is over. Have your kids help you label each bin with their names or with the bin's contents -- such as "blocks" or "puzzles" -- so they know exactly where their toys belong.

Book Storage
With a scaled-down bookcase designed just for them, children can reach their books more easily and are more likely to put them away when they're finished.

Clean Up
Children love to imitate adults, even when it comes to cleaning. Encourage them to keep their rooms tidy by giving them their own set of supplies or a homekeeping kit. Be sure to include a dust pan and brush, extra-small rubber gloves, sponges, a spray bottle, a duster, and nontoxic cleaner. Store the items in a plastic bucket.

Displaying and Storing Kids' Artwork
The refrigerator is a fine place to display your children's paintings and drawings, but a gallery in a hallway will make them look their best. Look for inexpensive used frames at flea markets and antiques shops, and mount the artwork on heavy colored paper.

Another idea is to make an inexpensive, attractive frame using two pieces of Plexiglas held together with binder clips. Your child is sure to appreciate the "professional" treatment, and changing the contents from time to time is simple. (Just be sure to preserve the old work in one of the ways described below.)

To store your child's creations, use archival boxes or acid-free portfolios, both of which come in a range of sizes. Note your child's name and age on a small label, or write directly on the back of the piece; use tags to identify the materials gathered in each box or portfolio. Or take a photograph of your child with his or her artwork: In addition to a record of the piece itself, you'll have a reminder of what your son or daughter looked like at the time of its creation. Arrange these photos in an album fitted with plastic pouches (don't use the kind with self-stick pages, which can damage works on paper), or affix them to the pages of a scrapbook using photo corners made from acid-free paper or Mylar. Whichever method you choose, always keep archived pieces away from light, heat, and humidity.

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