At preschool and nursery school, children are taught to pick up after themselves and where to put things away. You need to structure your home environment in the same way providing simple, easy routines that a young child can follow and understand. Keep your expectations reasonable and study your child's own capabilities before initiating any system. Let's get started with a major source of clutter in any child's room -- toys.
The Terror of Toys
Toys are perhaps the most dominant items that are stored in a child's closet. A multitude of bins or boxes on the shelves can help you organize a child's toys. Try to match the size of the container to the overall dimensions of the toys it contains. Put big toys in big containers, grouping similar items together (balls in one, stuffed animals in another, bulky playthings in another). Put small toys in small containers. Be wary of containers that allow tiny parts and pieces to slip or protrude through the container; net bags aren't a good idea. Solid duffel bags in a variety of sizes and colors work quite nicely. These bags can be hung from a peg board, or they can sit in a corner of the room.
Transparent containers with easily removable lids also work well. Then your child won't need to open every container to see the contents, and you won't hear the constant requests to find a particular toy. If you already own a generous supply of cardboard boxes, place a picture or label on the outside of the box to identify its contents. Thus, when your child wants a particular plaything, he or she can go directly to the box that holds it. Reinforce the corners of cardboard boxes with durable tape, or the boxes will be quickly destroyed.
Don't stack the boxes or transparent containers on top of each other; inevitably, the child will want the one on the bottom. Instead, align them horizontally so each box slides out from between the others without interference. One rule must be enforced to make this system really work well: Before your child is allowed to open a second box, the first box must be put back.
Don't put the most common toy container -- a toy chest with a hinged lid -- in the closet. When your child is preoccupied with sorting through the goodies in the chest, he or she is likely to forget that the lid is open. The lid may come down on fingers, arms, or heads, and you'll end up calming down a crying child. The toy chest also mixes tiny toys, such as little dolls, with such big toys as basketballs. This forces your child to dump everything out on the floor, leaving you to face the mess.
Another way to have a neat child's closet is by purchasing child-size hangers. Little hangers are fatter and sturdier than wire hangers, and little hands can handle them better. The visual impact of colored hangers keeps your child's attention focused on hanging up their clothes.
How much control do you wish to retain? Do you want your child to acquire some independence and freedom in choosing clothes as well as the responsibility for keeping clothing neat and tidy?
If you can't afford the cost of remodeling your child's closet but still want to add extra rods for hanging clothes, an extender rod will do the trick. An extender rod hooks onto the regular clothes rod with two "arms." The arms hang down to a rod that can function as a clothes rod. Extender rods come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. Choose one that is versatile and flexible. Measure your child's arm so the extender rod hangs low enough for him or her to reach the items on the rod.
Managing a child's closet that is filled with toys and clothes can be a challenge. Children aren't always the most organized people, but simple planning can help you out of this jam.
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