How We Make Space For Our Kids’ “Treasures”

posted by Andrea | 02/25/2019

Even before having children of my own, I was smart enough to realize they would come with a lot of “baggage” (literally and figuratively!) 

I had organized for enough families to know “children” = “lots more stuff to clean, organize, store, etc”.

However, I was adamant that I could have BOTH a large(ish) family AND a clean home without spending hours every day picking up after people. 

So far, I’ve been able to keep our house neat and organized enough for my standards with minimal effort —  all while letting my children display, collect, save, cherish, and sometimes “hoard” their most favorite trinkets, treasures, and other things I would most likely consider trash! 

 

MY SOLUTION = each child has designated spaces for their “treasures” and as long as they put their treasures away, they may keep their treasures.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, if we create a space for all our things (and then put our things in their space) we will not have clutter sitting out… and since I REALLY dislike visible clutter, this simple system has worked well for our family for the past several years.

Let me SHOW you what this looks like for us: 

The cabinet in our landing area holds toys on the bottom and art supplies in the drawer and on the top. The very top shelf is currently used as a LEGO display area. They can display all their small LEGO creations without worrying someone will accidentally knock them over or that Clara will put pieces in her mouth. 

We have another “LEGO display area” on top of our play kitchen in the toy bedroom. This is for larger projects, which we currently don’t have. 

If these display areas get too crowded, we know it’s time to pack up the LEGOs for a while and make more space. 

Also, I should mention, we ONLY get the small LEGOs out when Dave has a break from school (Christmas break, Spring Break, a full week of snow days, etc.) We play with them for several days in a row (during Clara’s nap time); then we display our creations and put the big bin of LEGOs away for a while. 

We have a ginormous set of Mega Blocks that we have out all the time. The kids LOVE playing with them —  a solid $4 investment from the thrift store!

We have a couple different  “display areas” for their artwork too — in the play bedroom, on the side of the refrigerator, on the magnet board in my office, and in their game cabinet under the stairs

And again, when the spaces get too full, we trash a bunch of their old artwork.

They know we can’t keep things forever, and they are almost always willing to purge old artwork to make space for the new stuff. 

We also use lots of their artwork to make cards, gift tags, gift wrapping, etc

When it comes to all their other little trinkets and treasures, we have a few different designated spots for those.

They each have a small wooden box (I think they are from my parents’ house) to keep random small things in. These boxes work wonderfully well because nothing gets lost inside, but they fill up quickly, so we are continually reevaluating the amount of stuff we should keep or purge. 

We also hung a shoe organizer in the kids’ closet. They can use this for larger items — everything is off the floor and out of my sight! 

And… they keep several items in their beds! 

I don’t know what it is about keeping special things in their beds, but all 3 of the older kids have loads of animals, small toys, flashlights, chapstick, tissues, little trinkets, papers, etc. in their bed and under their pillow.

We periodically make them clear out some of the “junk” but for the most part, as long as it’s under their covers when they make their beds, I don’t care!  

Yes, my kids might have lots of stuff (a.k.a. beloved treasures) shoved into their beds, their wooden boxes, and their closet shoe organizer, BUT they do truly seem to love, want, and use their treasures.

So I’ve decided that as long as they keep their treasures confined to the designated places, I stay out of their business and let them hoard (I mean store) whatever they want.  

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WHEN WE PURGE: 

We purge toys and clothing on a regular basis (especially around the holidays and after each child’s birthday). However, when it comes to their beloved treasures, I have a more hands-off approach. 

I basically let them keep whatever they want for as long as they want… AS LONG AS THEY PUT IT AWAY. 

When I start finding their treasures left out in the living room, on the floor in their bedroom, on the kitchen counters, etc. then I know it’s probably time to purge some of their things to make room for more. 

I let them have a day or so to think about it, then we purge together. If they are unwilling to purge, then they know I will do it for them at an unannounced time in the near future! 

This method has worked well for us so far.

NOTE: The picture above was taken after I asked the kids to pick up the toys in the living room (carpeted floor). These toys are technically in the office (wood floor) so they were left behind. 

I had a good chuckle over that one! 

THE BOTTOM LINE: 

If I simply give my children special places for their special things and make it clear they need to keep their special things in the special places when they aren’t using them, everyone is happier.

They get to keep their treasures, and I don’t have to constantly pick them up, trip over them, put them away, or feel annoyed by them. 

They are happy. I’m happy. It’s a win-win situation.

If only all parenting could be this easy! 

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RELATED POSTS: 

My system might be overly simplistic for some of you… but I’d love to know:

How do you (or did you) store your kids’ treasures? 

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Filed under: OrganizingHomeKids StuffChildren

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19 comments

  1. Crystal

    02/26/2019

    I just had to tell you how hard the kids “toy clean up” per your EXACT instructions made me laugh. I think that’s a sign of intelligent, rule followers 😉
    What more could you ask for mama? So, so funny! (& real life)

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I had a hard time not busting out laughing when I saw that. SO clever!

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  2. Jenni

    02/26/2019

    This is an ongoing struggle at our house. Our boys are ages 11, 9, and 7 and have been much more into the large Lego figurines or 3D puzzles. The worst was when they put together 3000 piece puzzles and didn’t want to take them apart! With 4 kids, it gets really hard to manage all the things, and we don’t really buy them that much.

    We are hoping to switch rooms with them at some point, and I think what I will be doing is building a hutch/shelf to go over their dresser, and give each of them one shelf to put things on, as well as maybe a Rubbermaid bin to go under their bed. But the rest I have begun to either donate or put away in bins for storage if they really care about it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — 3000 piece puzzles. That’s impressive!
    Dave and I have already talked about the idea of turning our current nursery into a craft/game/puzzle room in another year or so when Clara can move upstairs with the older kids. We can have a dedicated room to this type of thing and allow them to keep their puzzles up as long as they want (well, within reason!)

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  3. KR

    02/26/2019

    Dude I do this but with my husband lol! He loves clutter and having random things available in case he needs them, nevermind that he doesn’t touch them for months and months but it’s his house too, so I don’t fight it. So I put baskets and boxes in easy to hide areas that are easily accessible and tell him, I don’t care if you keep it at make sure it stays in these areas which have a Ton of room for whatever you need to do to keep (he also has the biggest closet in the house for storage and the entire garage – except I said the garage has to be neat enough that I can easily find what I need and don’t have to step over stuff to get to what I need, otherwise I don’t care what he keeps in there). That way all of the clutter is AWAY and contained.

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  4. Katie

    02/25/2019

    I have three girls, 9, 7 and 5 – oh the treasures! I have one of those Kalax IKEA bookshelves with fabric bins, basically living in a hallway since we don’t have a mudroom or laundry room off the garage. The bottom bin is for shoes and the one above it is for treasures. It also sometimes holds temporary frequently needed items like their spelling word list or their library book from school. They also each get a drawer in their nightstand for other odds and ends. Like you, when they start to get full or messy we do a quick purge which usually only takes 10 minutes or less. The big girls can mostly do this on their own but our 5 year old still needs some guidance to stay focused. For me, it’s a good compromise on a place for random things they need easy access to like sunglasses but also gives them a place to store things like fake jewelry they don’t want to share, toys from birthday parties, lip gloss, and other trinkets that I would rather never have had in the house!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good idea… thanks for sharing Katie!
    I do think we’ll have to tweak our system as the kids get older (with bigger treasures). I like your bin idea — they can just dump and move on.

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  5. Lynn Arnsdorf

    02/25/2019

    I love the door organizer idea for the larger items. When I was growing up, my mom let my twin and I each have a drawer in our dressers for whatever we wanted. We still talk about our “junk drawers”, as we called them. Those drawers were opened up anytime we wanted something and needed a trade item! One of my favorite items was 10 plastic tip fake fingernails, because I was a nervous little nail biter from birth! You just had to slide these on to your fingers and I would do that thinking people would think they were my fingers. I had no clue they looked fake.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’d ideally like to give each child a dresser drawer as well, but we don’t have enough furniture for this right now. Maybe once we split up rooms and have a dresser in each bedroom.

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  6. Mary

    02/25/2019

    I recognize that Lane wooden box. The furniture store in my home town gave one of these to each high school senior girl back in the 60s. I think one of my kids has mine now. She used hers for her “treasures” when she was young.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, apparently many people had these boxes. Ours are from my parents, who probably got theirs in the 80’s after they got married (not exactly sure though!)

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  7. Annette Silveira

    02/25/2019

    Great ideas. Also, Clara’s smile makes my day. Do you tell her to say “cheese” or do you get that beautiful cheese-face organically?

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    Andrea Reply:

    She is SUPER smily! If anyone pulls out a phone or camera, she automatically flashes a big grin!

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  8. Jen

    02/25/2019

    I did much the same with my kids. Now they each have ONE Rubbermaid container with all their “treasures”, and I have been happy to offload those containers to each child who has moved out. Two down, one moving to Dallas and getting married this summer, one to go! 😉

    Off topic: is it just me or are the in-post ads back? Today, Dumbo the Elephant was flying across the photos that YOU added to the post. LOL

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    glad you are able to unload some of your “treasures”! And yay for another wedding!

    Sorry about the ads, I might have to adjust the settings again. They seem to put more and more adds in until someone notices and I go back and change the settings.

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  9. Edie S.

    02/25/2019

    My mom gave my brother and I each a “treasure box” to keep all of our little toys and trinkets in, and as long as it fit in our box, we could keep whatever we wanted. Same as your concept! Our boxes were just a smallish plastic tote with a lid, maybe 12”x18” that were shallow enough to slide under our beds. I remember having kids meal toys, tiny plastic animals, party favors, stickers, etc in mine. I need to implement this idea for my own children! My mom said her mother did the same, and with 5 children in a fairly small home, their treasure boxes were likely one of the only areas of the house that they had complete control and privacy over!

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    Andrea Reply:

    love this idea… and I’d love to keep them under the bed, but with our bunk-bed situation, the bottom bunk is ON the floor so there’s no storage space. I might have to come up with a new idea as the kids get older and more independent!

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  10. Shelley

    02/25/2019

    This is such a fantastic idea! I don’t have kids myself, but it seems like a great way to teach them some responsibility over looking after their own things. It sounds like you’re doing a great job of setting them up for the future.
    I wonder if this will work on my husband, he’s very sentimental and has lots of ‘treasures’. He keeps shoeboxes to store them all in, but they’re all over the house. Maybe it’s time for me to clear out a ‘special place for his special things’. Then I can get rid of all the shoeboxes and get on with my life haha!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it should work on your husband too! When we were first married, Dave and I joked that he had a “man basket” because I put a decorative basket on top of his dresser and said he could put anything he wanted in that basket without me touching it! haha!

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