Organizing Your Child’s Bedroom

My youngest son (7) has a pretty small room and keeping it organized is not the easiest thing to do.  Since we also don’t have a playroom (we do have a rec room but it’s used more for hockey and soccer) all his toys need to “live” in his room.  Small spaces can be challenging for sure because we have to be even more diligent about the decisions we make with regards to what stays and what goes.  I love a challenge though and I love that my son gets to practice important organizing skills on a regular basis.

Before

small room before

I can always tell when it’s time for a room over haul, not because he has limited space to play, but because clean up becomes too frustrating for him.  My job as his parent is not to decide what he keeps and doesn’t keep, but to provide the boundaries and limits that make clean up a manageable process for him. When clean up becomes a battle it usually means he can no longer tell where things go or perhaps some items don’t even have an established home to go back to yet.

Before

small room before 1

Regular clean up should not be an all day affair…no child has the perseverance for that.  So there are a couple of options to help this:

  • Simplify the number of toys available to play with
  • Add limits to the number of toys that can be played with at one time
  • Add visual boundaries and labels to assist with clean up
  • Don’t set them up for failure!

Before

small room before 3

My son is allowed to have one “set” of toys out at a time.  So if Pokemon is his thing that day or week than he can leave them out to play with.  I don’t make him clean it up every night because gosh they put so much work into the set up don’t they and sometimes you just have to look beyond the mess.  However the rule is once he’s done with those, they get cleaned up before something else gets pulled out.

Before

small room before 2

Anyway the pictures above are what his room looked like before I dug in.  As per the PROCESS, I started with my plan and brought him in to discuss what we could do about it.  We discussed how having more play space would be nice, how it’s hard for him to find the books he wants to read on that tiny bookcase with books that are double stacked and what toys he was comfortable parting with so we could make all these changes happen.  I love this part of the process because I love hearing what is important to them, why they have certain ideas about the way things should be and what they’d like to see different.  Sometimes it takes a little prodding but eventually the truth comes out :)  Keep in mind though that I started having these types of conversations with him when he was just little so now at 7 it really isn’t that tough anymore.  But don’t despair if you are starting later, it’s okay and it is possible!

After

small room after

The only time I had available to tackle his room was while he was at school.  I promised him that if I came across something I didn’t think he no longer needed, that we hadn’t already discussed, I wouldn’t throw it away on him without his permission first.  Since we’ve done this for so long, he knows he can trust me on it.

I got to work and decided that the first thing I wanted to do was get rid of the little bookcase to free up more play space on the floor.  It really was too small for the number of books we had and even after we parted with a huge stack of books it still wasn’t ideal because you couldn’t see the books in behind without pulling out all the ones in front.  We are big readers in this house!  I know I just recently talked about going vertical for more storage but in a kid’s room that’s not always ideal because they can’t reach.  If they can’t reach the toys to play with or put away, that instantly sets them up for failure.

After

small room after 4

I decided to use the 9 hole cubby unit for all the books instead so the fabric cubbies came out next and were sorted through.  My son had outgrown a lot of it and was okay donating it.  Because we’d talked about the plan ahead of time and he was excited about being able to access all his books, it suddenly made his decisions about parting with some stuff that much easier for him to make.  Sweet!

After

small room after 3

As you can see he really doesn’t have a lot of toys.  The tall plastic drawer unit holds his Lego and I made a shelf for him specifically for all his Pokemon stuff in the shelf alcove.  He has a tub of Thomas Train stuff in his closet because, while he doesn’t play with it anymore, he’s not ready to part with it just yet.  It was a huge part of his life for so long and I don’t really blame him.  Since I had the room to store it, it’s not a big deal.  However there may come a time when we have to re-evaluate should we need the space for something else.

Remember:  only keep what you love and/or use and have the room to store.

After

small room after 1

small room after 2

It’s all about give and take, compromise and negotiations.  These are all great skills for kids to learn especially at a young age when the stakes aren’t as high.  I’ll go into much more detail about this in the ebook I’m writing on the subject, it’s just taking me much longer than anticipated.

So for now I’m happy that we have a much more manageable space and a tiny bit more room to play.  Goal accomplished!

What do you struggle with the most when organizing your child’s bedroom?

Similar posts on this topic:

Getting to Sleep Amongst the Clutter

Creating a Closet Library

My #1 Secret for Keeping Toys Organized

Teaching Kids to Organize

Filed under: Bedroom, Kid Stuff

Comments

27 Responses to Organizing Your Child’s Bedroom

  1. 1
    Dawn says

    I have two boys that share a room. The beds take up the entire room. Then we have a bookcase overflowing with books that never get put back properly. And a desk with shelves of toys. And a dresser with stuff on top. It’s so overwhelming.

    • 1.1
      Bekki says

      I have the same problem! It seems that all the shared spaces on the internet are large. We only have room for the beds right now. I know bunk beds would help but there is only so much you can do in a 12×12 space.

  2. 2
    Amy says

    Wish I could have all of your organizing devices right this minute. I have three boys in one room.

  3. 3
    Tamara says

    I have three in one room, too! I found one–count it, ONE–”bunk bed with trundle” online (from several different online sellers, but it’s all the same bed), it’s around $500, and there have been a couple of not-so-great reviews on it. Seriously, if someone could make one of those and make it durable, they’d have some business on their hands!

    • 3.1
      Pam says

      Very cool, we need something like that for visitors.

      Pam

    • 3.2
      Mallorie says

      I have seen DIY trundles that either use a piece of mdf cut to size and add casters on the bottom or even one that used furniture slides to slide the bed out so it would fit under the shortest of beds! My son has a bunkbed and you could easily fit a mattress under with those ideas.

      Here’s the link for the furniture slides, for the casters just add those in place of the slides!

      http://morantsid.blogspot.com/2012/11/diy-trundle-bed.html

  4. 4
    Jasi says

    My two very young school age children have 10×10 rooms. Their books are split between them on book shelves, they have a trundle each for overnight guests and one bar in a tiny closet (fixing that to two soon!). Clothes in a tall vertical dresser- stuff they use on bottom, larger sizes in top drawers. We keep board games and cards hidden away in the living room so we can all play. There’s an ottoman filled with Thomas trains and tracks. Boy has a drawer of cars in his room. Girl has a drawer of dress up in her room. I don’t know, maybe we don’t have a lot of toys? It works for us.

  5. 5
    Debra Pak says

    Laura, you really could have used an Off-the-Floor EZ store storage unit for this project! You should have called us! Turned out great anyway…

  6. 6
    Cathy @ Chief Family Officer says

    I love how you came up with a plan and then discussed it with him, and how much you respect his needs in the process. Thank you for sharing!

  7. 7
    Crystal says

    My son has the SAME bed sheets and SAME calendar!!
    I love the knitting basket for tall books or board games!

  8. 9
    Mrs. Williams says

    Hi – I love your post today. I have two young sons and this summer we took on the LEGOS that started to take over our house. My husband and I created a Lego closet filled with organization. Now all his models and parts and mini-figures all have a place. And the best part? I can close the closet doors. You can real all about it at http://www.naptimenotebook.com.

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      That is AWESOME!!

  9. 10
    Sarah L says

    I LOVE your son’s bed! Where did you get it? All that storage! We are planning to move this summer and cnances are to a much smaller house, how nice that would be!

    • 10.1
      Laura says

      Hi Sarah, they are called Mate’s Beds and are pretty inexpensive. I can’t remember where I got it now because it’s more than 15 years old but I’m sure it was just at Walmart or something like it. Really great storage. My son stores stuffies and his lego books in his :)

      • 10.1.1
        Ren H. says

        We must have the same kid! Legos, Mario and Pokemon are his life. We store all of his Lego books in school folders and put them with books on his cubbies (same 9 cubbie storage from your room), and his comic books in magazine file boxes on the shelves. Pokemon cards finally went into a collection album and are no longer on the floor. Some of his Legos, enough to play with in a pinch, are in Kassett boxes from Ikea. Our big challenge is truly the amount of tracks that he has collected! Thomas is now in a storage bin in the basement, but Hotwheels and Knex Mario are making me crazy. Some fit in under the bed in bins, but right now most are gracing my living room floor. This week I hung a clothes organizer (on sale for $2 and has 8 cubbies!) in his closet for the Pokemon and Mario plush toys he got for Christmas. Everything has a place except the tracks!

  10. 11
    Christi says

    I love this post!! My biggest problem in my sons room are his large toys (ex. Toy Story Pizza Planet, Jake’s pirate ship Bucky, Spiderman playset, etc.). His bedroom is also his playroom and those large toys take up so much space! I’ve thought about building shelves on one of his walls to store them but I don’t want it to be too tall, like you said, where he can’t access them…any tips on how to store toys like that?

  11. 12
    Jill says

    I loved the process and the outcome – great skills for all of us to have!!

  12. 13
    Delane says

    I think it is so wise to teach your kids early on about organizing! It will only make their life so much easier when they fly the coupe!

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  13. 14
    Isra {TheFrugalette} says

    My son and daughter share a room, a small one at that, and organizing it is something that takes a feat of patience. We do have bunk beds which helps, but outside of that, I need something geared to apartment living…maybe using the wall space and going up!

  14. 15
    Patricia says

    Have you found any storage alternatives to the fabric boxes that still fit in the spaces? I have four boys they share a playroom and we’ve been using these as storage for several years but they aren’t the best for durability.

    • 15.1
      Laura says

      I think Ikea might have a wicker type basket that fits cubbies but I’m not sure if they’d be any more durable though :(

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