Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finding Room For All The Kid Stuff!

We live in a small, two-bedroom apartment. I try so hard not to complain, because it's part of my husband's job which means we live here rent and utility free. It's the reason I get to stay home and raise my little ones, so I count it as a blessing. However, with the blessing comes plenty of aggravations. Especially with two little ones who come with a LOT of gear.

One of the biggest problems with our apartment is figuring out where to put all the stuff. Our living room floor is littered with a baby swing, bouncy chair, play-gym, and child's rocking chair, as well as shelves full of baby toys and books. The "master" (I use that term very loosely!) bedroom has Joseph's pack n' play shoved under the window, and I have down-graded from a closet to an armoire, which is in the kids' room, so that they can have the closet in their room, and Dan can have the one in our room.

Recently Dan moved his office out of our apartment, so I've turned that room into a playroom. It's been a life saver, because all of Stephanie's toys are in there. It gives her a special place to play that's all hers. (For now.) However, even with the extra room, I was overwhelmed when we came home from her birthday party and I had to figure out where to put all the new toys that our friends and family so generously gifted to her. (It feels like I just found homes for all the Christmas stuff.)

I've looked up storage solutions for small spaces on the internet, and there are tons of great ideas. I have big plans for the playroom and the kids' room, but I just haven't implemented them. In the meantime, I've come up with a few ways of storing things without feeling like i'm constantly tripping over toy clutter.

-Under-the-bed bins. These are great to store puzzles, out of season clothes, and things that I just need to get out of sight.

-Cube shelves. I bought this  shelf for the playroom, and plan to get more (another 6 cube, as well as a 9 cube). I put bins on the shelves to collect the toys with many pieces, and use the others for some of the medium sized toys.

-Plastic drawers. I use these for so much all around the house. For the kids, I put a set in the entry way for hats, mittens, and scarves. I use one for craft supplies, and one in the their closet for pajamas, pants, and skirts. (There isn't room for bureaus in their room.) I also plan to get one to keep all of Stephanie's kitchen toys. (She got a kitchen for her birthday.)

-Toy rotation. This is a great way to create more space, as well as keep Stephanie from getting bored with her toys. If there are things she hasn't played with in a while, I put them in our storage room. (We have a small room in our building where we keep bins full of holiday decorations, stuff we don't have room for, outgrown kid stuff, etc.) After a few weeks, I'll rotate these toys with others, and the ones I bring back in seem like brand new.

-Utilize every single space. There are diaper sleeves under the changing table, magazines lined up between the couch and end tables, DVDs stacked three deep in our entertainment center, etc. It drives me crazy because it makes it look cluttered, but honestly, using every possible space is the only way I can keep all the stuff from just...being in the way!

-Find a home for everything. This goes along with using every single space. Everything in my house has a place of it's own, and I try hard to put everything away at the end of the day. (It doesn't always happen me.)

-De-clutter! Several times a month I weed through toys (some to rotate), books, clothes, tupperware, the pantry, etc. I always seem to be able to fill a few bags of stuff to donate, sell, or trash.

These are a few of the ways that I've found to help keep the kid clutter under control. I'd love to hear any tips that you have for storing children's toys or cutting down on clutter! I know that even in a house, people deal with these issues, so please share your solutions!

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