Earlier this week I decided to schedule a conference call during nap time. I was a little hesitant but felt sure I could make it work. The older two were at camp (still no school due to the hurricane), so I took our littlest man out for a morning adventure, followed by a big lunch, and then laid him down a smidge later than normal to ensure I’d have the time I needed. Well, Cooper didn’t cooperate and woke up right in the middle of my call. To avoid a toddler-sized tantrum, I scooped him out of bed, brought him down stairs and shuffled him into the “play closet.”
The play closet is a little under the stairs area next to my office where I stashed all their toys, magnets, puzzles, legos, and craft supplies. While I don’t keep markers, paint or glue down there, all of the other art accessories (construction paper, stickers, pom poms, etc…) were readily available. He was quiet, and I quickly finished my call. After we hung up I went to check on him, and… Oh my gosh. He basically went ballistic in there for the ten minutes I decided to stay on the phone and let him play by himself.
This little niche of our house has become the bane of my existence because it’s always a mess, but this time it was BAD, and enough was enough. That afternoon I decided to get things back in perspective, deal with the clutter, and make sure this never, ever happened again. Why on Earth did I even think my kids could handle free-for-all access to all these tiny supplies… Rookie mistake.
In the midst of my organizational frenzy, I realized two things that I wish I’d know all along and thought they might be useful for anyone else dealing with small destructive beings on a regular basis.
Less really is more.
I hear there are two kinds of people - spenders and savers. Let’s just say the “less is more" concept doesn’t come naturally to me, but it’s so true… Especially for kids. Too many times, I caved and bought the toy when we were at the store for diapers, and it’s come back to bite me. Not only would I have rather not spent the money, but now I’m tripping over these blasted toys all day long. “More, more, more” has not served me well. Hopefully, I’m older and wiser now and can learn from myself. Out of all the toys, we’ve bought over the last six years, what do they want to play with, but the milk cartons and paper towel rings I save for recycling. Go figure.
Put it in a basket!
There’s a reason Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod are making a killing selling baskets for toy storage - what a game changer! Creating a custom toy storage zone can be costly, but add a few baskets to a mud room, TV cabinet or bookshelf, and you’ve all of the sudden got serious organization and style to boot. Hands down, my favorite storage baskets for highly visible spots are the Pom Pom Pints, which are very durable and have an easy-access handle. They come in a variety of color palettes and sizes, and they’re adorable. For areas that aren’t as visible (i.e., anything inside of a cabinet), save your dollars and try Sterilite containers and bins. I love their Clip Box for extra security items (think pencils, construction paper, and stickers), but their Ultra Baskets are fantastic for anything you want readily available (like coloring and activity books). The Ultra baskets are available in three sizes (the medium is perfect for coloring books!), and they offer great storage solutions for other rooms too. (Tip - when picking out a basket get handles whenever you can. Kids or no kids, you’ll save yourself a few spills!)
If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself “self - buy the diapers and go home!” Since I can’t change the past, I’ll work on the future, and I try to stick to my own advice!