5 Easy Steps To Organizing Children’s Toys

Organizing toys can be one of the most frustrating experiences for parents and children.  Here are some suggestions that I have found helpful when working with my clients. Think “contain, corral and control.”

  • Firstly, I think toy boxes are good for only one type of item rather than a depository for random toys, especially those with many parts.  For example, use your toy box for items such as stuffed animals or as a dress-up/costume box.  Just make sure that the lid of the box has a safety hinge that cannot close on little fingers or bang heads.
  • Organize bottom to top. Because of a child’s small stature ensure you view the room from his or her point of view.  Start organizing from the bottom of the room, and work to the top. Most used toys and belongings should live on lower shelves, in lower drawers, or on the floor. Higher levels should be designated for less-frequently-used possessions.
  • Contain items before you store. Use clear plastic shoebox containers for smaller toys like GI Joe characters or Barbie type clothing, and larger lidded bins for blocks, trucks and cars.  Not only do containers help parents control the number of toys out at any one time; (“sure, you can play with the GI Joes, just as soon as the Lego Blocks go back into their home!”), but they also help to limit the amount of items your child can acquire.
  • Place books in a bin rather than bookcase. Most young children have difficulty reading the spines on books so store picture books as a flip-file, standing upright in a plastic bin or dishpan.
  • Labels save the day!

Basement Reno Completed!

FINALLY! The day has come when I can say that our basement renovation is done!!! To say that I’m relieved is an understatement. In my last blog post about this project I mentioned that the painters had to come back to repaint the entire basement. Well, believe it or not, after I wrote that post they had to return on 3 more occasions to finish spots and whole sections that they missed or failed to follow the instructions provided by the contractor. In addition, the contractor has to send his foreman back a couple times to correct some pretty poor workmanship. I remain astounded by this but realize it’s time to move on and put this behind me. With all the other outstanding issues now taken care of, its time to put our basement back together and set up the spaces in a functional, efficient and organized manner.

First came the workout area with the placement of our equipment and accessories all on one side of the back room with everything easily retrievable. Second came the playroom/tv room. I gathered all the toys we have for our visiting little ones (all contained in clear bins for easy identification) and they are now situated in that section of the basement. We are still deciding on whether we will purchase a cubby type wall unit for storage of the toys or whether we will simply leave them in the bins for the time being. For now a simple arm chair serves as a comfortable seat for anyone who wishes to “chill” down there. The third area to tackle was my husbands computer area where he checks emails, downloads all sorts of things and syncs his various technology “toys”. We placed an “L” shaped desk unit that we previously had in an enclave area of the basement which is the perfect niche for him to work in. The final area to tackle (and the most challenging at this point) is the workroom where we keep tools, household maintenance items, gift wrap, etc. and which we determined was also going to contain my organizing tools and accessories for the business. If you could only see the size of this little space – it is definitely a challenge.

At the moment everything is on shelving, but not yet organized. When we have a few hours to spare we will begin to organize that final space, using the organizational principle of SPACE (sort, purge, assign, containerize and evaluate). I’m just itching to get that done but my clients come first at the moment and I know that there are a couple of days vacation I will be taking in a couple of weeks when we will definitely get this basement organized completely! For now we live with it and function as best we can. The reality is we can only do so much in the little time we have available. Prioritize, organize and saturate your space with the things that make you happy and enjoy life!

Children’s Books To Help Teach De-cluttering

With spring in the air it’s a good time to start working with your younger children to teach them how to let go of their unused and unwanted items.  In an earlier post I mentioned a book that is helpful when working with children in this regard.  There are a few other books that parents have told me have been helpful when they are talking to their children about editing some of their belongings. They are all from the Berenstain Bears collection.

The first one is The Berenstain Bears and The Messy Room.  In this book brother and sister bears’ room was a mess and they argue with each other quite a bit about who should tidy up instead of working together to get the job done.  This book is helpful in that it will teach children to do their fair share in keeping their spaces clean without arguing. It teaches children responsibility.

The second book is The Berenstain Bears Clean House.  In this book, during spring cleaning the bear family have difficultly letting go of things they no longer use (sound familiar to anyone?), so they decide to hold a yard sale.  I will admit that the ending of the book was surprising to me.  Rather than going through with the yard sale and let go of the items, they decide to keep the items and use the space in the attic for the storage of the items. Still is a good book to read with your children to help acknowledge their feelings about things.

The third book is The Berenstain Bears Think Of Those In Need.  As with all the books in this series, this teaches a timeless lesson and principles easy for little ones to learn. They also help parents in showing them a good way to handle sometimes difficult situations.

It’s never too young to begin to teach your children the basic principles of de-cluttering and organizing. In doing so, you are also instilling important values: one of which is that the important things in life are not things.

Helping Children Let Go

I work with many families with young children which is a very interesting and rewarding experience for me.  Interesting because the interaction between a parent and child when reviewing the items that the child owns is actually very revealing.  I will pick up an item and ask the child when he/she last played with this or if he or she likes the item, dislikes the item and would like to let it go for donation. If the child tells me that it’s no longer one he/she wishes to keep, there are times when the parent jumps in to say things like “oh, but that was so expensive and you play with that all the time, you want to keep this don’t you?  When the child responds to the negative and continues to express a desire to let it go, the parent may still be  persistent in wanting to keep the item.  As a result, I generally have a chat with the parent before the editing part of the process to request that their child be allowed to make the decision and that that decision be respected rather than questioned.  This helps the child to not only learn to express and understand what things are important to him or her and to distinguish treasured items from non treasured items, but also teaches the child responsibility, respect and how to be charitable.  I always encourage families to include the child in the actual trip to the donation centre in order to live the full experience of donating to others.  Children really do get this and how it will positively impact the life of another child.

The revealing part of the process is the parents reaction to the generousity of the child. Often it is evident that it is the adult that has difficultly letting go of items.  This reluctance  to let go and  often the need for abundance can stem from previous learned behaviors or psychological reasons. which may ultimately be passed along to the child if not careful. dThe client is often surprises by their own reaction to the editing process with children.

Teaching children how much stuff is too much stuff may be a difficult task.  However, as I was organizing the bedroom of a young 8 year old boy I was startled to come across a book he had in his room authored by the great Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko entitled “Too Much Stuff”.

Too Much Stuff


The book is about a young girl named Temina who is going on her first airplane trip and is determined to bring ALL her toys regardless of what her mother says.  The ending is wonderful and the book is a great teaching tool for all parents in helping their children to let go of things.  I urge you to check out this book and let me know what you think about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Clutterbgone Television Debut on Rogers

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. I appeared on Rogers daytime TV with hosts Elaine Yim-Spencer and Jeff Moore to talk about professional organizing and to demonstrate a few pretty cool products to get your life and home organized.  Here’s the video:   http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=17&gid=89952

Neat Freak was great enough to supply me with components of the Neat Kids Closet Max organizing system. Neat Kids Closet Max organizing system

I just love this product for children’s closets because it grows with your child, makes the clothing accessible to them and teaches children the skills of organizing at a young age.  The components are made of durable fabric and strong nylon strapping and comes in two patterns:  Pop Rock and Candy Stripe.  Even better is that no tools are required to assemble the system, it’s quick and easy and uses your existing rod in the closet.  It’s specifically designed to hold kid-size clothing and items and you can mix and match the different components to create your own unique and custom closet system.  The price point is amazing and you can create a very functional system in a small closet for less than $200.00 easy!

I also demonstrated the Day ja View Recurring Events Calendar which was designed by Sharon Neiss, a professional young mother of three. Day ja View Recurring Events Calendar This calendar won the Parent Tested Parent Approved award for 2011 and is currently patent pending.  It’s great for families and organizing your events and activities in minutes with its ingenious 3 step design.  It’s definitely a winner for families and retails at only $19.99.

Lastly I was able to demonstrate the Grid It! organizer generously provided by Cocoon Innovations.Grid It! organizer  It comes in a bunch of different sizes,  and is an extremely versatile and functional solution to organizing your digital devices and personal items.  It’s made of rubberized woven elastic that firmly holds your stuff in place and there are endless configurations so you can customize the product to suite your specific needs.  It’s a great idea for laptops, Ipads, travel cases, knapsacks and essentially any carrying bag.  The price point varies depending on the size, but you can get a very functional one for about $19.00.

All in all a pretty great day.  I’ll be back on Rogers Daytime TV  in February and will keep you posted.





Donating to Schools

With all the cutbacks in funding, I think we can all agree that schools are always in need of supplies no matter how small. I’m currently working with a client who has an old, unused sewing room jam packed with everything from fabrics to old Vogue patterns, costumes and all sorts of sewing accessories. Although many local craft guilds would give their right arm to get some of these items, another idea is to donate to your local school.  In addition to sewing related items,  schools would love to receive these other things as well:

  • postcards, greeting cards
  • old magazines
  • wrapping paper
  • small wood scraps
  • craft materials
  • sequins and buttons

So, after the holiday rush is over and you are settling in to (hopefully) a couple of days off, take some time to go through some of your unused items and see what you have to donate to your local school.  Not only will you create some space in your own home for what’s important to you now, but you’ll also help develop some creativity in your community school as well.   So donate and feel great!








3 Ways To Teach Children To be Organized

With the holiday season in full swing, what better time than now to teach your children how to let go of items and be organized. You’re never too young to start.

The first way is in regards to their toys. Go through toys with your child every 6 months and point out which toys they no longer play with. You can suggest they donate to another child. It’s important that your child be part of this process and makes the actual decision with your support.

The second way is with clothing. With a very young child as you go through their clothing have them look at the piles of clothes that no longer fit and confirm with them that they are ready to let them go. I suggest you even ask them to come with you to the donation centre to drop them off. Including them in this process helps them to learn to let go and make decisions, which is an important step in the organization.

The third way is through artwork. Once a month you can review the pieces of art made by your children and ask them to select those that they are ready to recycle. It’s important that they physically put the item into the recycle bin themselves. Through this process they will learn to pick out the more treasured pieces from those that no longer hold value to them. If your child is struggling with letting go of a piece of their art, offer to take a digital photo for them.

Remember to reward the child for his or her decision-making. This way they will associate organization with positive reinforcement and keep them coming back for more. What methods do you use to teach them organizing skills?

Pantry Organizing

We recently finished re-organizing our client’s kitchen and pantry. Many of my clients find it difficult to know where to start when re-organizing and decluttering this area of their home. For the pantry we removed every single item and placed them in categories, such as pastas, canned goods, cereals, snacks, spices, etc. We discarded those items that had expired or were no longer used. Once we saw what was left to house in the pantry, we recommended a few minor purchases that would maximize the storage space and make return and retrieval of items efficient: a graduated shelf riser as well as a couple of under shelf storage baskets were all that were needed in this instance.
Here’s a photo of the pantry before we started:
Pantry Before Organizing
And here’s how it looked when we were done:
Pantry After Organizing
Our client and their children loved the under-shelf popcorn basket!
Working on my client’s pantry has inspired me to do my own! What inspires you to get organized?

Organizing For Back to School – Inspirational

Here’s something inspiring for your day to day living, especially now that the kids are back to school. Place a storage bench or ottoman (Martha Stewart brand has a neat one) close to your front door for your kids accessories, such as knapsack, gloves, hats, etc. This also gives you and them a place to sit while putting on shoes and boots.

Welcome to my organizing blog!

Wow! Finally the day has come. I’ve been intending on starting this blog for months now, but like many, I’ve felt intimidated by technology and the whole concept around “blogging”. But here I am, now amongst a million other “bloggers”. The whole foundation of my business is based on honesty, integrity and client satisfaction. Therefore, with this blog, my goal is to keep you posted on what’s happening in the world of professional organizers, special organizing projects, keeping you updated on organizing trends & tips, and give you some insight into the organizing projects I come across along the way. I also want to hear from you! What exciting or interesting organizing projects have you started this past week? I’d love to hear about them.

With September just around the corner, business is booming! There is a whole new set of challenges with getting the kids organized and back to school. With that in mind have you thought about how you plan on handling all that paper that comes home with your children? Here’s a back to school idea for handling the precious artwork they create.

As parents we often have a spot on the fridge for their artwork to be displayed. Once a month, go through the pieces with your children and ask them to choose which ones they’re ready to recycle and re-purpose. Through this process your kids will learn to pick out their special treasures and learn that some things are no longer valuable to them but can be re-purposed for other things. Why not recycle their art work into gift wrapping for others! For those treasured pieces of art that they choose to keep rather than re-purpose, assign a special coloured tote box to be kept in his or her bedroom closet. Each week, those pieces of art that do not make it to the recycle or re-purpose box are added to this tote. At the end of the school year, make some popcorn and help your child to go through his or her tote, review their school year and pick out their 12 most favoured artwork treasures which will be kept as their memories for the year. Store them face down in the tote. Then start the process over again for the next school year, placing the new year’s artwork face up instead. This way, when you review at the end of the year, you only go down into the pile until you reach the ones that are face down, and repeat the editing process again. Have fun, take pride in the treasures your little ones create and know that it’s ok not to keep every single piece.