Organizing Shared Kid’s Rooms
My husband and I purchased our first home shorty before getting married . It had plenty of space for us to separate our two sons into their own rooms when the second one came along, but we decided against it. In fact, we are opposed to them having their own rooms till they are older. Of course, the first one got the room to himself for a little while, but we found out about baby number 2 before number 1 was even 6 months old. He got to have the room to himself until little brother came along when he was 14 months. However, keeping shared rooms clean is not an easy task since their are twice (or more) many kids to make a mess.
Many of these ideas come from the boys being in that room with a grand total of 4 feet of closet space. We some how managed to squeeze in a crib, 2 dressers, and a twin-size bed plus storage solutions for all the stuff that comes with 2 young kids.
3 Tips for Keeping Shared Rooms Clean
1. Think “unconventional” for storage.
- Under the bed – I cannot tell you how many houses I walk into or moms I talk to that are failing to utilize this huge amount of storage space! Moms! Please, use this very valuable space in a way that helps prevent it from turning into the endless dungeon of long-forgotten toys. My husband built me 3 huge “drawers” on wheels that slid underneath the twin size bed and I used under the crib to store random things we didn’t use or need often for baby. You don’t have to be handy to utilize this space. Tons of products are designed for under bed storage. Many people use it for “off-season” clothing or items they don’t need to access too often. Our boys loved having all their stuffed animals in one of the drawers. They pulled it out to play with them all the time.
- Wall Shelves/vertical storage – When I was preparing the room as a nursery for my oldest we bought one of those closet organizing systems (worth every penny by the way people! Don’t be reluctant to spend a little more to get yourself organized if it’s in the budget). It turned the 4’ closet into 2 feet of vertical shelving that went almost to the top (we had really tall ceilings) and 2 feet of hanging space. However, it was really 4 feet of hanging space, because we hung 2 bars. Remember to think upwards. This is critical in my opinion for keeping shared rooms clean. Vertical storage adds all kinds of options for organization. We also added 2 crate “bookshelves” to put all the
kidsbooks in. One was “adult” height for the more special books, and one was “kid” height for all the board books. The kids loved “reading” the board books on their own. You can also add wall shelves with some cute boxes and bins to keep them from looking cluttered.
- Multi-use furniture – I refused to buy a changing table when I was pregnant with our oldest. It seemed like such a huge waste of money to me. For
usit probably would have been. I know others that loved theirs. Insteadwe bought 2 cheap Ikea dressers and put a changing pad on one, filled the top drawer with diapering essentials (kept organized with the draw dividers Ikea has), and called it a day. It still works perfectly to this day. (Though we are nearing the end of using them as a changing table because the only piece of potty training my second is missing is number 2.) Don’t fill up the room with anything that isn’t going to serve more than one purpose unless you have to.
2. Limit the “stuff”.
- Fewer clothes – I will never understand having clothes out that are too big or too small for your little one. I don’t mean as you transition sizes and haven’t cleared out the all the too smalls yet. I mean people who have a newborn’s 12-month clothes already hanging in the closet. You don’t even know if those clothes are the right season for when your baby will actually fit in 12-month clothes. Baby girl is 9 months old and is tiny. She still wears 3-6 month clothes. I have had to buy her practically a whole new wardrobe because theoretically, she should have been in those during the summer so she has a whole summer wardrobe in the middle of winter. (To be fair “winter” where we live means we think it’s freezing if the temp hits 50 degrees.) Back on topic now. Store the clothes they aren’t wearing be it seasonal or size in a box in the closet or garage. We invested in some nice sealing boxes that I felt confident storing the clothes in the garage. Didn’t even wash anything above a 3 month when he first arrived. Just sorted them into the appropriate box and stuck them all in the garage. This becomes a necessity for keeping shared rooms clean once the second comes along. You don’t need all the extra clothes taking up valuable space.
- Limited Toys – If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s toys everywhere. The kids won’t play in their room if the toys are all out and if you have them in the living room it just becomes a nightmare. We turned the 2nd bedroom as a toy room for the kids as they got older. However, before that, all the toys were in the bedroom with them. They did move rooms and had all the toys in with them again at one point, but in the new house, we went back to the toy room style. Each year we weed out broken toys, toys they have outgrown but that we don’t plan to save for baby girl, and toys we are tired of cleaning up or putting together. It sounds harsh, but they have received some toys that require me to take 20 min to put it together, or it’s a pain in the butt to clean up (often times toys fall into both these categories at once). We also learned a lot about what toys our kids loved and which ones they didn’t when we moved. I got rid of a lot of toys at that point but I also packed up a bunch too. While they were excited to have some toys back others weren’t such a big deal. Those toys will be donated at Christmas this year.
- Get rid of the “extras” – I am 100% guilty of being the mom who keeps an extra “just in case.” Extra blankets, extra clothes, extra all kinds of stuff. Now I am not saying get rid of all your extras but take inventory of what you really need to keep extras of and get rid of the rest. Each of our kids has 2 color coded towels. One to be in use the other in the laundry or clean and put away. They each also have an extra set of sheets. That way I can pull one set off and put a new set on and not have to rush a load of laundry before nap time. I used to have so many extra baby blankets. Many of which were not even special. My sons literally never used them. I got rid of a whole bunch when we moved. Please note I am NOT advocating you get rid of the spare “special” blanket that they love. Keep that handy because you really might need that one day. If you have used your “extra” in that last 6 months odds are you can make do without it if you had to.
3. Get in a routine
- Routines are so important for little ones. It tells them what to expect next. You would be surprised how many fewer melt downs you have when routines are in place and followed. Always find the routine that best fits your family. Don’t try and force someone else’s routine into your life. They also teach kids valuable lessons for keeping things clean and order.
- Set a pickup time. Whether it’s in the mornings, evenings, or maybe before naps, set a time as part of their routine to pick up. We like to pick up their playroom before nap time and their room right before bed. Sometimes we throw a morning playroom pick up in the mix if it’s really messy from the day before. Setting this time up really helps keep shared rooms clean by getting everyone on board to pickup.
- Use a chore chart. Sometimes called responsibility charts. Whatever you want to call it, if you kid is old enough to appreciate stickers are check marks as a reward these are great. We have some from Melissa and Doug that include pictures to help our sons understand what will each chore is. They enjoy getting their “token” for completing the tasks and it really helps at bedtime to keep us all in a routine.
We have since moved from that house, but our boys still share a room and it’s roughly the same size (I think it’s 10’ x 11’ this time). The major difference is that it has a much larger closet. We love that they share a room. I wish sometimes that it would be easier to have baby girl share with them as well. We see it as a valuable life skill to learn to share your space with someone else. Working together to keep it tidy and with a schedule that works for everyone.
It may seem an impossible task to keep shared rooms from constantly becoming a disaster but with the right methods it can be kept clean (at least mostly) and organized.