How to organise a child’s bedroom
(image credit: photo courtesy of a Little Button Blue customer)
Not that long ago (or so it feels like) we exchanged our daughter’s toddler bed for a ‘big girl’s bed’ and had to rethink what other furniture was now needed in her room and what would actually fit.
We’ve always kept most of her toys in the living area to try and avoid distractions from sleep, but as we rearranged her room to become more of her own space, more of her belongings have found a home in the bedroom. With more of her treasures in her room comes more capacity for mess (eek!), but I’m hopeful that if we set it up right, we can keep the bedroom a tidy and functional space.
Organising children’s bedrooms is one of the services Cassie Lackenby offers through her Tasmanian-based business Find Things Professional Organising.
I asked her to share some tips from her experience helping clients get their kid’s rooms in order.
Cassie has some great practical ideas on how to organise toys, clothing and furniture. She shares her process with us, plus good advice on how to choose what to keep in the bedroom and where to put it, tips for choosing and using storage items, and how to get started.
A professional organiser’s top tips for organising a children’s room
Here are Cassie’s top tips for organising a children’s room:
Involve the children – Involve the children in the whole process as appropriate for their age (defining how they use their space, what they play with, what they no longer want to keep).
Understand that it’s a continual process not a once-off event – Maintaining a clutter free, organised space is an ongoing process. New things will continue to enter their space, they will grow and their needs and interests will change.
Find functional storage and stick to it – After completing the initial process and identifying the storage items and furniture that are required for the room, in the future let this determine how many items are kept. Use only what current storage areas you have and only keep items that fit in this space. Do not keep adding other storage items and areas for more items.
Do a test removal of unused toys before getting rid of them – If you do remove items without asking the children, store these items out of sight and see if the children ask for them. If they do, you can then bring them back out again, however if they don’t, then donate or dispose of these items appropriately after a predetermined time.
What’s the biggest barrier to a tidy room?
Cassie says there are four common issues that prevent a room from being neat & organised:
Too much stuff – Having too many items, toys, or clothes within the space, room or home. More toys and other items will mean more that can be pulled out, more to be put away, and more to look after.
Lack of appropriate storage – Not having the right storage and not having items contained is a major contributor to a room looking untidy.
Storing things not used in that room – Having everything stored in the room when it is not where it is used. It’s best to keep things in the room where they are used. It also makes it easier to put them away.
Wrong furniture – Not only the items stored there but also the furniture can add to the clutter of the room. Only have the furniture items in the room that are required in order to use the space how you want.
The process: How a professional organiser does a children’s bedroom refresh
Approaching the organisation of a whole room could be overwhelming. So where’s the best place to start? What does a professional organiser do first when they’re asked to organise a kid’s room?
Cassie says her key process consists of four main steps:
1. Define the use of the child’s bedroom
How is the bedroom used? For example, is it just to sleep, is it their play room too, do they read a story at night in bed, do they do homework in their room? Your child’s age will play a big part in how the room is used.
Based on this, think about what furniture and items are needed in the room. Does the room need a desk or just a bed and storage shelves? Are toys stored in their room or in a playroom? Are books kept in their room to read at night or do you do reading in the lounge room?
The functions of the room will determine the items you keep there. Relocate items that fall outside the use of the room to where those items are used, as this allows easy access and makes tidying up and putting things away quick and easy.
2. Declutter items
Start in the place that is the biggest issue at the time. If there are things all over the floor or bed start here so you have space to work. Otherwise if you are having trouble finding clothing to get your child dressed easily, start with the wardrobe. If there are toys everywhere, start with these.
My tip with decluttering would be just to make a start; don’t get so overwhelmed with the big picture that you never get started. Start small; just 1 drawer, 1 shelf!
3. Organise contents, sorting items by category
Always declutter everything first before this step.
You can sort by item types, placing them into categories like books, soft toys, individual types of toys.
Think about how the children play with their toys and if they use things together (eg. do they use blocks to build a house for their people?) as this can determine what can be stored together.
For both toys and clothes consider what children are currently playing with and wearing, what they have outgrown, and what they are yet to grow in to.
Some children work well with having items stored by colour where all items of that colour are stored in the one area (eg. red item shelf, blue item shelf, green item shelf etc). This visual cue then helps the child to know that anything of that colour goes back to a certain place when it’s time to put it away.
4. Set up functional systems by determining appropriate storage solutions
Allow space in their room to undertake the activities that they do in their room and for it to not seem so cluttered.
Create zones for activities such as reading, play, drawing/writing/homework, and define the areas for those activities so that children know where to go to find things and where to put them back.
Think about what you want children to access and what you don’t want them to get into and place those either lower within their reach, or higher or in a locked cupboard accordingly.
In terms of finding the right storage area, look at where your children use the item and keep it there. For example, books for reading at night are best placed near the bed. If items are located where you use them, it makes it a lot easier to put them away again.
Contain items in baskets, boxes and bins. Use storage containers to keep like items together in one place and store them neatly.
Transparent containers can allow children to see what items are in the container without having to pull & tip it all out to find what they are looking for.
Having pictures on labels (rather than just the written word for the item name) is very helpful. Especially for younger children, it can help them more easily identify where items should be put back and where to find them.
How can we make it easy for kids to keep the room tidy after it has been organised?
Once you’ve followed these four steps and organised the children’s room, the next challenge is to keep it that way. So what’s the best way to do that? How do we make it easy for kids to keep their room neat and tidy?
Cassie says firstly, by organising items and setting up functional systems as outlined in her process above; and secondly, by teaching them.
“Teach children how to clean up – create good habits, show children how to be organised, encourage cleaning up before play with next thing, teach them how to part with toys and give them to other kids who don’t have as many toys.”
Organising tasks specific to a child’s bedroom
I asked Cassie if there’s anything else to keep in mind for a children’s room that might be different to other rooms in the house? She cited three specific organising tasks/tips that are unique to kid’s rooms:
Toy rotation – Rotate toys. Rather than having every single toy that your child owns out all the time, only have some toys out that children can access – enough to keep them entertained & stimulated. Then store some away so that every so often (eg. fortnightly / monthly etc) they can be changed over, ensuring that the children remain stimulated & do not get as bored.
Strategic space-making – Do a clean out before Christmas and birthdays so that the space has already been created to store the new toys, clothes, and other items that they get.
Have a system for clothing that’s not currently used – In the wardrobe have a bin or box where items that are too small, not used, or no longer worn can be placed. Once this fills up, pass on the items. Also have one for ‘grow into’ items that are still a bit big for your child but you’re keeping for future use when you’ll need that size.
So many great practical tips here! Thanks Cassie! You can find out more about Cassie and her work at findthings.com.au
Have you used any of these methods for organising a children’s room? Which of these tips will be most useful for you do you think?
I particularly agree with the point about picture labels. That’s why I created these wooden toy storage labels with cute images as well as text. Our toy storage label sets make it easy for children to see where to find and put away their toys. Read more about our label sets here.