Do you organize your kids’ toys so that everything has a place and all like items are together?

Have you wanted to do that, but not had the time yet?

Well stop stressing because there is absolutely no need for it.

In fact if you do that you are preventing your children from developing some important life skills.

AND

You are needlessly driving yourself crazy every time they put things away “wrong.”

I’m sure you’ve seen those perfectly organized kids’ rooms on Pinterest. Some have cute little labels for every basket and fabric bin that resides in the room. There are spaces with all of the Legos sorted by color. How about the beautifully designed and organized craft areas where everything has a place and it looks perfect?

Yep, I’ve seen them too.

As a lover of organization I drool over those rooms and how amazing they look, and then I come back to reality. Those rooms will not work in my house with my kids.

And that’s okay.

If I choose, I can organize my own spaces that way, but those will not work for my children.

I have four HUGE reasons why you shouldn’t try to organize your kids’ spaces Pinterest perfect.

  1. It’s easier for small children to clean-up on their own

Amelia at 2 ½ is excellent at picking up her toys and putting them away, when asked to do so. She doesn’t even need much help. However, I also don’t have unrealistic expectations of what picking up means. As long as her toys end up back in the toy bins and books back on the shelves that’s enough for me.

I want to be able to walk throughout my house without stepping on Shopkins (seriously, what is the purpose of those), Legos’ or any other tiny toys that can make even a grown man fall to his knees in pain.

  1. Most children will never put things away exactly as you set it up

You can take all the time in the world to set up the most beautiful and organized space for kids, but the chances that it will ever look like that again are slim. How many kids do you know that take the time to sort Legos out by color as they are putting them away? Or organize books by type (Magic Treehouse in numerical order and all Dr. Seuss together, not to mention the size of the books from big to small so they are easier to see)?

I may know a mom (not me, a friend, of course) who took hours organizing books by genre, author, etc. only to have them destroyed minutes later by children eager to “read” every single last book on their bookshelf.  This “friend” has since learned the fine art of just getting books on the shelf with spines showing- no concern for size order, genre, etc.

If you are blessed with one of those very neat and organized children, then they might appreciate this type of organization. However, be careful with how strict they make their organization, because inevitably they will have other family members who are not as organized. Your child’s frustration level will be increased when others mess up their organized spaces.

This leads me to point three.

  1. Less organization = less frustration for you

Have you ever had that feeling of satisfaction and joy after you spent hours scrubbing and cleaning the kitchen? Then moments later someone spills juice and leaves bread crumbs behind on the counter.

It is SOOOO frustrating.

But it’s life.

Guess what, the kids’ spaces are no different.

There is a direct correlation between how much time it takes you to organize and clean their rooms to how frustrated you get when it no longer looks like that again.

(The more time you spend = the higher the frustration level, the less time you spend = the lower the frustration level).

Now that I figured this out I am far less frustrated – still frustrated, but much less so.

It can take Amelia minutes to take every single book off her shelf and now that it only takes me a few minutes to get them all back. I don’t get frustrated like I used to when I’d spend 15 minutes or more organizing them.

I used to get so upset when it took an hour or more to help Cassidy put all her little toys into bins, sorting like items together. Now I follow her philosophy of “pretend things” “pretend real things” etc. and clean up only takes minutes.

label maker fun

If you are still taking hours to organize your kids’ spaces with or without them, it is too much. Try to be less organized and see what happens. I bet you’re less frustrated and have more time in your life. Go read a chapter in a book for fun with that extra time.

  1. Children need to be given opportunities to develop important life skills like organizing, decision making, independence

If you want your children to be independent adults who can make decisions for themselves, then you need to provide them ample opportunities to practice and develop those skills.  Trust me working with college students I see the results of parents doing everything for their children. You don’t want to raise children who can’t think for themselves.

resourceful two year old
My 2 year old already has more independence than a lot of college students I know. She used the knobs on the cabinet and her stool to reach the bathroom sink to wash her hands on her own.
Starting at around age four children are ready for this type of independence.

They may still need guidance, but if you ask them they have ideas for how to best organize their stuff.

You can make it a discussion on what they play with and how they play with it. Maybe there are things in their room that they don’t play with as often and those items can be stored up and out of sight. I have found in helping Cassidy she has some great ideas for what to do in her room. We give her the independence to figure out how things will be stored in her room, but she knows we have the expectation that it will be clean enough to walk in.

Cassidy loves my label maker and decided to label quite a few things in her room. I LOVE how she decided to label the bins on her toy storage shelf. It may not be how I would have done it, but it makes sense to her. Plus since she decided how to do it she takes a lot of ownership to make sure things get put away correctly.

Allow your children the opportunity to develop their own organizational style.

Doing so now will help them later on in life when you aren’t there to set up their spaces Pinterest perfectly. By allowing them to do this you give them permission to assert their independence and develop their decision making skills.

I hope these four reasons have proven why organizing your kids toys perfectly is not a good idea.

I am giving you permission to take it easy on yourself.

You don’t have to be perfect- you can’t be anyway- so the sooner you realize that the better.

Your organizational systems don’t have to look like the ones you admire on Pinterest. You will save time and money if you don’t try to replicate those.

Once you choose to give up those dreams of perfectly organized kids’ spaces you will be much happier. You will have more time in your life to enjoy something for yourself.  If you don’t have a “me-time” activity, there is not time like the present to find one.

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