Project Eliminate: The Kids' Rooms

organizing kids' books

I'm still on Week 1, and Brylee and Ian's rooms aren't supposed to be worked on until week 2. But minimizing being so emotionally and even physically draining, you gotta go where the energy leads. And it temporarily lead to the kids' rooms, namely their books, toys and Ian's clothes.

Kids' Books

I worked on the books in the living room which inevitably lead to the kids' books. The organizing book I read at Barnes last week made two excellent points to help on this.
  1. A large selection of books is not necessary with weekly visits to the library. Besides for a couple of Brylee's favorites, library books are her most read.
  2. Children's books should not be lined up library-style on a bookshelf. A 3-year-old can't read the spines and instead pulls them out to see the cover, often resulting in a mess that's difficult to correctly put away.
So, I eliminated a large stack of books from both Brylee and Ian's rooms (given the use of the library, more could be eliminated, but this was a great start). I grouped them into 3 categories (thin paper books that Brylee is now old enough to look at on her own, thick cardboard books for baby Ian, and religious books to make Sabbath reading easier to find). Each category went into its own covered crate, covers facing forward for easy viewing. They're now kept on our gigantic bookshelf (that I would like to downsize, but that's a story for another time). I'd like to keep the reading nook concept and make sure we all use it.

minimizing and organizing kids' toys

Kids Toys

I followed the path in Brylee's room from books to toys. After several instances of finding Brylee's room in an absolute toy-covered mess, a month ago I cleaned up by throwing excess toys in a large tub (which turned into two) and put the others away in their appropriate places. Amazingly, she was playing with her toys more frequently, she didn't miss the tubbed ones, and her toy messes were never more than she could pick up on her own. Success!

It was time to go through these tubs, outing a few more toys using two more excellent points from previously mentioned organizing book:
  1. Limiting toys helps kids learn to share. Taking turns with what they have is more beneficial than giving each kid their own toy.
  2. Limiting toys helps them take better care of their things rather than teaching them to expect there will always be a replacement.
Our balance for kids' toys is basically a few (2-4) square bins or crates (Brylee's toys aren't exactly kept in bins, so this number isn't an exact science). Ian has about 2 bins (which is more than enough for a 3-month-old) to grow into, and Brylee has the equivalent of about 3-4, which includes smaller amounts of her favorites:
  • Dolls: two dolls, a stroller, highchair and cradle, a bottle and change of clothes
  • Play kitchen: a lidded tupperware full of play food, a re-purposed princess bag full of kitchen utensils, and an apron
  • Dress-up: a couple skirts (she had 7!), play heels, tiara, rings, bracelets and necklaces
  • Educational/miscellaneous toys: a bin of her favorite puzzles, coloring books and a small play piano
  • Stuffed animals: her three favorites (a dog, a bear and Curious George)
There are now limits to keep the toys manageable. If a new toy comes in, something in the same category has to go out. She has more space to find and play with her favorites. And I'm even seeing her get more creative--today was the first time she sat her baby in its highchair and fed it peas from her kitchen stuff.

simplifying and organizing baby clothes

Baby Clothes

We were fortunate to have lots of clothes handed down to us for Ian. I tried to be critical in the beginning, but still had an overwhelming amount of things tucked into his little closet space. I went through again, outing extras (will he really need 8 dress shirts when he's 12-months-old?) and items I simply won't dress him in. I also cut his blanket stash (we use the same 3 blankets anyway) down to two quilts (both made and labeled by special people) and 2 soft blankets. And, because I like the prefolds as burp cloths the most, our stash of burp cloths have been pretty well untouched, so those are being ousted as well.

Then, I had to get real about the clothes he's already grown out of and make a plan for the clothes he will grow out of. I think we might be done having kids, and if we had another there's no telling when that would happen or if it'd even be a boy. Also, the two newest additions to our siblings are/will be girls, so holding onto boy clothes does not seem necessary at this point. The current compromise is to keep the absolute favorites that are in great condition. Three overflowing tubs has been cut down to a tub of clothes to be grown into and a tub to hand down leaving an empty tub and no excess on top--yay! I can now see what items we're lacking in; although I took this photo while clothes were in the wash so some items are missing.

Daniel and I are currently in the 2-bedroom vs. 3-bedroom debate. My stance being: This reduction and organization would help Brylee and Ian to share a room harmoniously. Now to convince Daniel of that...

Find the other posts in this series linked >> here.