Concepts for Kids ~ When to Stop Organizing

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Rachel at Useful Beautiful Home.

Here’s the deal – I was set, I was ready, I was prepared to show you some organizing shoe tips for children, but then I stopped short. My structure-oriented self took a step back and viewed organizing through the lens of a child.

Concept-for-Kids-When-to-Stop-Organizing at

Let me explain. We have this little “backpack station” next to our back door where shoes, coats, & school gear have a designated home.

Backpack Station

It’s located in the same hallway as our library book zone, which makes this area a generalized kiddie space. And I’m okay with that, since dedicated places for shoes, library books, etc. help train children with basic organization skills.

(See how to make the banner HERE.)

Perfect Library Reading

Creating a shoe/coat/backpack zone is a popular trend right now and I’m on board with it! Nothing could be more helpful in assisting children with putting away incoming paraphernalia than designating a “drop zone” at their level, in the entryway.

Our version is built-in. The first day we moved into our home, I found this sweet little effort.

Shoe Storage in New House

My daughter had neatly arranged her tennishoes and dress-up shoes in one of the cubbyholes before exploring the empty house.

But the newness wore off (pretty quickly too, I might add), and shoe litter began to appear all over the house. So, I picked up some cheerful red plastic bins for $1 each (from The Dollar Tree) to provide a little guidance for shoe storage.

$1 Bins for Shoes Storage

Next, I sat down at my computer and made some shoe picture labels (because I love a good picture label for children and it’s listed as my #8 concept). The left bin was to hold dress shoes. The right bin was to hold play shoes. The center bin was for holding socks.

BUT, one thing led to another, and a couple weeks went by with the labels waiting in my to-do box.

Picture Labels for Shoes

Finally, I got my act together. I grabbed my trusty camera, pulled the bins halfway out, and started to take pictures for you, when I found this…

Child Organizing Shoes

Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had already been at work in the cubbyholes. Can you see what she did? Look closely. The center bin remains dedicated to socks, as I had planned. However, the left bin now holds all the left-sided shoes and the right bin holds the right-sided shoes.

Oh, and a pair of flip-flops that didn’t seem to make it into any bin.

Bin with Right Sided Shoes

Stay with me…

I was about to dump all the shoes out and organize things MY WAY for a few staged pictures.

But wait!

All of the sudden it dawned on me, my Little One had been organizing her shoes. She had been using an organized system – HER OWN system.

Does her system make sense to me? Kinda. Do I love it? Not really. Will I leave it alone? You bet!

Child's Way to Organize Shoes

After all, isn’t that what I’ve been trying to teach all along? Haven’t I been trying to encourage organizational skills in my preschool daughter? Doesn’t this count, even if it isn’t logical according to me???

I won’t be putting her in charge of my shoe storage, but it’s more than okay to let her take ownership of her own things. I stumbled upon the budding fruit of my training efforts.

And it keeps budding, so to speak, because she eventually found a place that seemed fitting to put the rogue pair of flip-flops – in the sock bin. :)

Flip-Flops in the Sock Bin

So, back to the QUESTION, when should I stop organizing? When is it time to leave well enough alone? ANSWER: when you spot your kiddo attempting his/her best effort, however unusual it may appear to you.

When a young child takes ownership, organizational “rules” may seem to be broken, but they’re really only guidelines that work best when adapted.

The success doesn’t lie in a pristine shoe corner. Rather, the success is when we (as caregivers) have managed to impart the value of stewardship & responsibility, while letting the child’s creativeness flourish.

So next time you’re visiting my house, put your left shoe in the left bin and your right shoe in the right bin. That’s how we do it around here. :)

For more pictorial inspiration, including a link to the Entryway tips from Shannon (another contributor), visit my Pinterest board called, Entryway.

Rachel In the professional world, I’m a nurse by trade. But, around our house, I’m known as Mommy to our young daughter. My two worlds collided and began shaping into a blog. Useful Beautiful Home represents the hours I’ve dedicated to managing my household as efficiently as possible. I offer you motivation to keep your home healthy, organized, and welcoming. My goal is to share what I’ve implemented in my home to inspire you with fresh ideas and to encourage you to keep up the good work in yours! Learn more about me HERE or visit me at

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff, Organizing Basics, Rachel


11 Responses to Concepts for Kids ~ When to Stop Organizing

  1. 1
    Crystle Monahan says

    That is so cute! Good reminder too. My little sister needs a little prodding to put her things away, but perhaps we can work with her to set up a system that works for her, not just us :)

  2. 2
    Emily @ My Love for Words says

    This is a great post! I sometimes have a hard time stepping back and letting my kids do things their own way instead of what I feel is the “right” way, but they’ll be more proud and it will mean more to them if they are able to create their own system. Thanks for the reminder :)

  3. 3
    Monica @ The Writer Chic says

    Rachel!!!! Yea, you! And yea, Ellie!!! This is so sweet and you have every reason to be proud.

    • 3.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      Such sweet words to read, thank you!!

  4. 4
    CJ says

    I have to tell you a cute story about my uncle when he was just 3 or so. He asked his mother what the refrigerator was for and she said that it was for saving things that you wanted to use later. The next morning she found his favorite cowboy boots on one of the shelves. Of course she was not amused and called him in right away to find out why he had put shoes of all things in the frig. He replied that he wanted to save them to use later. Now as cute as this story is, it doesn’t end there. When my uncle’s son was about 3 (having never heard this story), he too put his cowboy boots in the frig. This post reminded of them and I had to smile!

    • 4.1
      Rachel@Useful Beautiful Home says

      So sweet and made me smile too. Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. 5
    Jesse says

    It is indeed a challenge to teach kids to organize. I agree that your daughter did put a lot of effort organizing her shoes in the left and right bin, and because flip flops were not considered shoes, she got confused. Very cute!

  6. 6
    Lea says

    From a child development point of view, little kids especially preschoolers, confuse left from right. So this system makes so much sense since it will get them out the door faster.

    My first comment. Been reading your blog from top to bottom. :)


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