School Bags! And Everyone’s Bags! How To Keep Them Organized So That It Is Not A Hassle To Put Them Away

School Bags! And Everyone’s Bags! How To Keep Them Organized So That It Is Not A Hassle To Put Them Away

My boys loved their school bags when they were in kindergarten. That time, they were into Avengers superheroes, because their Papa is a huge fan of Avengers, telling them stories of his childhood and his superheroes stories. So, they always wanted bags which had their favourite superheroes on them. When they saw other children at school were using the school bags with rollers, they also requested that same kind of bag. So, we were at the stores picking out the school bags, they picked their own bags with rollers and superheroes.

After we bought the bags for them, they proudly carried the bags to school from the car walking to the entrance of the school, and then dragging the bags using the rollers when they were inside the school grounds.

However, when they reached home, it was not a happy moment for me anymore because they would throw their bags anywhere on the floor. For a temporary solution, I asked them to keep the bags on the steps of the staircase.

Jun climbing the stairs to reach for his bag to retrieve his books.

But, one day, an unexpected disaster happened. One of the straps of the bags was hanging over the steps. When Hao was running down the stairs, his foot accidentally tangled in the strap and he fell downstairs. It was fortunate that he was not seriously injured. But the incident left me blaming myself for not providing a place to keep the bags and putting the children in danger by asking them to leave the bags on the stairs.

After that dreadful incident, I started to plan and research on how to have a nice shelf for keeping bags. Here were the steps to my thinking process on creating the space for keeping bags:

 

1. Visualization

Before I started anything, the first thing I did was to visualize what I wanted the shelf to look like, and how I wanted the shelf to function to serve its purpose. After much consideration, in my mind, I wanted a shelf which was cozy, easy to clean, bags were easy to store, easy to retrieve, everything could be viewed at a glance, and a centralized place to go to for all the bags. With these requirements in my mind, I started to research online for ideas.

 

2. Space Required

After knowing what I wanted for the shelf, I had to check out how much space I can afford to allocate for it. These were all the questions running through my mind:

  • How much space I needed
    • My plan was to have a shelf which could accommodate our needs. I did not want the shelf to be too big because it would take up too much space. I wanted something compact, yet trendy.
  • How many cubes were needed
    • My plan was to have one cube for each member of the family.
  • Where to put the shelf
    • I wanted to put the shelf in the entryway of the living room. Putting away and collecting the bags when entering or leaving the house would be easier and I no longer needed to nag and scold.

3. Color Coordinated

The color of the shelves is extremely important to me. I love my home to be warm and natural in color. So, anything white, natural, beige, or wood grain would easily match the theme of my home. I picked wood grain as it was the color that was available in the furniture store, IKEA. The color fitted perfectly and it turned out to be nicely coordinated with other furniture in the living room. I was particular in picking the right color because then all the furniture would create a harmonious environment at home.

 

4. Plan Execution

After the 3 main steps, the execution to get the right shelf was carried out. I chose an IKEA Kallax shelving unit because it fit my space, colour, budget, and functions. During the purchase, other factors listed below were also considered:

  • Budget for the shelf: The pricing of the shelf was within my budget, i.e. below RM500.
  • Timing to purchase the shelf: I had my husband babysit them so I had some time to go out to buy it.
  • Location to get the shelf: I was very familiar with the place, at IKANO, Damansara so it wasn’t a big issue to get to there and find the shelf in the big store.
  • Delivery of the shelf: I was still able to fit the boxes inside my car; hence, I didn’t pay for the delivery service.
  • Installation of the shelf: Because the installation was easy, I decided to do it myself instead of paying people. Plus, because I was doing an IKEA hack, I needed to do it myself.

I did an IKEA hack on the shelf whereby I removed some boards in the middle to create more vertical space for storing bigger bags.

Installing the shelf all by myself.

 

5. End Product

After I finished installing the shelf, I let the children chose their cubes because I value their decision making. The boys were given the opportunity to make their own decisions, it fostered their negotiation skills to negotiate among themselves to pick the cube they wanted and respect each other’s selection. When they had made their choices, I put labels, with their names, on the cubes. Labeling was important because it gave them the sense of ownership, a place to put away their bag and the responsibility to take care of their own belongings. I also used some boxes to store their other things such as helmets, caps, gloves, safety goggles, drawstring bags. Baskets or boxes could be suitable inserts in the top and bottom cubes because it would work like drawers in a shelf if more storage space was needed.

 

Voila, the completed shelf!

 

Labeling the shelf to ensure everyone keeps their own bags in their respective cubes.

This is how the shelf looks like when the bags were put in.

 

When the shelf was set up, the boys were excited to see it. It took us quite some time to get used to it since we had been putting their bags on the stairs or on the floor for a long time. Despite that, the system was simple for any children or adults to follow. After we started using the shelf, we fell in love with the new system and cannot live without it. It has become effortless in keeping away our bags. Whenever we have guests at our house, they will definitely give the feedback, “Wow, your home looks like a kindergarten!” Well, I always take that as a compliment!

 

 

 

 

Josephine

Hi! I’m Josephine Yap and I’m a clutter liberation expert, a wife, a daughter, a homemaker, and a mom to my active triplet boys. I’m super passionate about decluttering. My wish is to share my decluttering journey so that everyone get inspired to reduce the clutter, make their life at home easier, and enjoy the comfort of their space at home with the people their love.

Child Friendly Storage is SO Important…

Child Friendly Storage is SO Important…

The Awful Storage Mistakes I Made That Didn’t Cater for My Children’s Needs and How these Mistakes Caused Misery in My Life

A visit to a friend’s house for the children’s playdate made me realize that every mum has the same daily struggle when it comes to child related things. Every house I visited, mothers faced similar challenges. From clean laundry on the sofa, toys discarded on the floor and children’s books stacked up high. I could totally relate to their struggles, juggling between being a mum, a wife, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, house chores, and work. These struggles are so real that I feel that it’s health hazardous to be in this position!

Before having children, I never realized the importance of having a child-friendly storage system to cater to children’s needs. All the furniture that I bought was to satisfy my husband’s and my lifestyle. We bought the beautiful furniture and had the interior design that suited our taste. At that time, my philosophy was having a nice home for adults without considering the presence of the children.

When my children were born, I undermined the importance of having a child-friendly storage system, and eventually it resulted in an awful massive clutter in my house. I felt incredibly overwhelmed with the children’s clothes, toys, science kits, and art supplies. Every day, I struggled to move things around the house. Lacking a proper storage system, when I purchased stuff for the children, I had nowhere to store them and all these things would end up on the floor or any surface I could put them on. Though it was meant to be temporary, it ended up becoming permanent. When the children had created their drawings and crafts, we had no place to display them. The children just put them all over the house, in the bedroom, living room, on the dining table, in drawers and the floor. Wherever they could find the space, they would place their masterpieces. It was hard to store their art nicely and keep track of them.

At every stage of physical development, the children’s needs changed so fast that I could barely keep up with them outgrowing their clothes and shoes. It felt like every six months the children were having a wardrobe makeover! Generous family members were always buying new clothes for them until their wardrobe was overloaded with clothes.

Then, there were their books that needed to be frequently changed and upgraded because they love books and reading.

Their art supplies always needed to be changed and have variety so that they would feel challenged and not frustrated when using the art supplies. Their color pencils were changed countless times to cater for their readiness, from washable type, to grip type, jumbo type, triangular type, thin type, short type to long type. Not to mention other art supplies such as pencils, glue, crayons, scissors, and the ones which I incorrectly bought!  Some art supplies that I purchased were for older children and they weren’t ready to use them yet.

Another lesson I learnt was don’t undermine the children’s creativity. In a typical day, provided with the right materials, one of my children could create five art pieces. So, my three children typically could create 15 pieces per day. In a month, you can imagine how many drawings and works of art they would come up with!

Toys, toys, toys! My worst enemy yet! There was always a lot and they were always messy. The tidying of the toys never stopped. It was continuous. After taking me a long time putting toys away the children took only a few seconds to recreate the mess. To me, it was chaos, but to them, it was the art of play!

To me, the kitchen was deemed the most dangerous area in the house where I always feared my children would get injured with the kitchen utensils or the gas cooker. I was always being protective of them being physically injured. Instead of creating opportunities for them to learn, I prohibited them entering the kitchen! Because the house was constantly messy, we all felt so stressed at home. It also deprived the children from gaining independence and thriving because of my lack of understanding of child psychology and my lack of parenting skills. If the child friendly storage system was done correctly the children would:

  • Grow up happily in a clutter-free environment
  • Be independent in retrieving and putting back their own things
  • Be responsible for taking care of their own belongings

Every organizing expert has the same advice, that “everything should have a home.” However, the concept was not applied in my house because there was no “home” for things. As such, putting things back in the right place was seriously tough for the adults and especially tougher for the children. This was totally not the fault of any of my children.

My parenting intelligence increased after I hired a parenting coach when the children were four years old. I took the challenge to create a more child-friendly storage system for them. First, I studied and analyzed the areas that were messy which the children were always using. It took me quite some time and struggle to identify the areas because I had the tendency to clean the areas up. Hence, every time I had the tendency to tidy up anything that belonged to the children, I had to stop myself and pause before tidying. I even took the whole observation to the extreme where I stopped tidying up the children’s things for two days whereby I observed and monitored how the children created the mess.

During the observation period, I managed to identify the areas which I needed to work on. The storage areas which could allow the children’s involvement the most were:

  • Clothes storage
  • Books storage
  • Storage for indoor and outdoor toys
  • Art & craft supplies storage
  • Art & craft masterpieces storage
  • Kitchen storage

Once I had identified the areas, it became clearer and easier to work on them. These were my thinking processes when I was working on the children’s areas:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed, I was made aware of my frustrations and the reasons I felt that way.
  2. I took a step back and observed the areas the children were involved in. This happened when the children were younger. I noticed their struggles and figured out how to simplify the process for them.
  3. When the children were older, I could talk with them to find out their difficulties. I also listened to their ideas. If I could, I would accept and incorporate their ideas. If not, I worked closely with them to renegotiate and come out with the best solution.
  4. Once the areas were identified, my work to declutter and organize began! If I could, I would involve the boys, doing it together.

I used to complain that the children did not like to clean up, but the fact is children do not like to clean because their needs are not met. My experience of owning my mistake of excluding the needs of the children at home has led me to progress my decluttering and organizing. I never knew my children could help to clean up until I set the storage system that met their needs. The once boring cleaning activity had turned into an easy and fun time. I hope by sharing my mistakes of neglecting the children’s needs will enlighten parents to include their children when they are identifying, planning and designing the children’s storage system because ultimately it will be used by them.

Josephine

Hi! I’m Josephine Yap and I’m a clutter liberation expert, a wife, a daughter, a homemaker, and a mom to my active triplet boys. I’m super passionate about decluttering. My wish is to share my decluttering journey so that everyone get inspired to reduce the clutter, make their life at home easier, and enjoy the comfort of their space at home with the people their love.

Organizing Small Toys in a Ziploc Bag

Organizing Small Toys in a Ziploc Bag

Storing small toys in a Ziploc bag keeps everything organized by categories. By adding a photo of all the items and put it in the bag, it’s definitely easier to identify and put back the items without anything going missing.

Josephine

Hi! I’m Josephine Yap and I’m a clutter liberation expert, a wife, a daughter, a homemaker, and a mom to my active triplet boys. I’m super passionate about decluttering. My wish is to share my decluttering journey so that everyone get inspired to reduce the clutter, make their life at home easier, and enjoy the comfort of their space at home with the people their love.

Organizing Outdoor Brooms

Organizing Outdoor Brooms Using Laundry Basket

Before
Everything was so messy before because everything was chunked at one corner. Sometimes, if it wasn’t put correctly, the brooms would fall and lying down there.

After
I managed to find a matching brown laundry basket. The reason I am using a basket because this makes it easier for my children to keep the brooms they finish sweeping.

Josephine

Hi! I’m Josephine Yap and I’m a clutter liberation expert, a wife, a daughter, a homemaker, and a mom to my active triplet boys. I’m super passionate about decluttering. My wish is to share my decluttering journey so that everyone get inspired to reduce the clutter, make their life at home easier, and enjoy the comfort of their space at home with the people their love.

Organizing Children’s Outdoor Scooters and Bikes

Organizing Children’s Outdoor Scooters and Bikes

Using masking tapes and marker pen to create spaces to park the children’s scooters and bikes neatly, with ease and no more shouting from mommy to ask them to put back.

 

Before
Previously, my children had no place to properly park their bikes and scooter. So they just dumped all their outdoor bikes and scooters at one corner of the house. It drove me nuts just to ask them to arrange them nicely and properly. But because there was no system in place, they found that “properly” and “nicely” were very vague. They were five at that time.

After (Version 1)
I created a system that replicated our real life parking. The children saw the adults parked their cars at the parking lot, so they were familiar with the parking concept. So I made the “parking spaces” for each scooter and bike. The children were excited. After one briefing to them, they were able to do it without any hassle. The only thing I did was to use the thin masking tape and taped it to the floor.

 

Another view of the “parking lot.” And this is my favorite photo 🙂

After (Version 2)
When my children upgraded their small bikes with training wheels to bigger bikes with 2 wheels, Yay! They no longer need training wheels because they achieved another milestone of learning to balance and coordinate their bodies while cycling! Because of that, the arrangement of the bikes and scooters had to be changed.

Because the bikes were longer, the “parking spots” were made to be slanting instead of straight. The scooters, on the other hand, were still parked straight as normal.

I added something new. Can you spot it? Yes, the labels. I used the thick masking tape and marker pen to write down their names, types of “vehicles” and drew a picture of the “vehicle.” The labels acted as their “designated parking lot.” I wrote their names and drew a picture because they only knew how to read their names and pictures helped them to differentiate between bikes and scooters as they couldn’t read that yet. I told the children that it was their exclusive parking lot, like how managers had their own designated car park. The labels on the wall had their name and a picture of the bike/scooter so that they can park accordingly. This strategy was working great to prevent them from fighting as previously, the children were fighting for a particular “parking spot.” After the “parking spots” were assigned to them, it was peaceful again.

I also moved all their indoor scooters to outside because they were tearing down the inside of the house. It was difficult for them to tell apart the difference between indoor and outdoor activities. Once the scooters were out, they could focused on their indoor activities e.g. art & craft and constructive play instead of cycling, scootering and running in the house. When they wanted to do outdoor activities, they would request to go outdoor. Phew, what a relief for me! No more angry mom who always shouting and screaming in the house.

When my children learnt about car number plates, we used the thick mask tape and write down few letters and numbers as their number plates and stick them to their bikes. I also used the mask tape to write down their “number plates” and stick them to the wall as their “designated parking lot” to simulate the real designated car park which they saw this many times at the real parking lots. Using the concept they had learnt, the children had to match their names and number plates to park their bikes/scooters accordingly.

When I set up the second version of the parking, the children had a play pretend. To ensure the children observe the ground rules to put park their bikes and scooters after using, we played a game of town council officer, police officer and driver. One child was the police officer, one child was the town council officer and one child was the driver. The officers need to ensure the driver park properly at the parking lot, otherwise they can choose to issue summon or tow the bike away. So if anyone who didn’t observe the rule, I only look for the officers and ask to summon or tow away, immediately all of them will put back and arrange the bikes and scooters. Well, this sort of reminder is far better and effective than instructing them to put back and they show no sense of cooperating.

These are the only tools I used to create the “parking lots”:
1. Black marker pen
2. Scissor
3. Thin masking tape for the “parking” lines
4. Thick masking tape for the labels of “designated car park” and “car number plate.”

 

 

Josephine

Hi! I’m Josephine Yap and I’m a clutter liberation expert, a wife, a daughter, a homemaker, and a mom to my active triplet boys. I’m super passionate about decluttering. My wish is to share my decluttering journey so that everyone get inspired to reduce the clutter, make their life at home easier, and enjoy the comfort of their space at home with the people their love.

Organizing Winter Clothes

Organizing Winter Clothes

Repurposing clear bags to organize winter clothing so that they are easy to take out, I don’t forget where I store them and I don’t forget what winter clothing I still have

I got a few of these bags for free when I bought the children’s milk powder. Instead of throwing them away, I repurposed them to keep my winter clothes. Why I like these clear bags is because I can see through them and I won’t forget what I store in them. Another advantage is I don’t need to label them.

I folded the clothes nicely and arranged them in the bag. When everything was sorted nicely in the bag, it would look nice despite the bag was transparent. But if the clothes were stuffed into the bag, it would definitely look ugly when one were to see through it.

At the sides, I slotted in the gloves and ear warmers.

Ta-daa….every cloth and jacket was nicely arranged in the bags.

The last step was putting them away nicely into the wardrobe.

Josephine

Hi! I’m Josephine Yap and I’m a clutter liberation expert, a wife, a daughter, a homemaker, and a mom to my active triplet boys. I’m super passionate about decluttering. My wish is to share my decluttering journey so that everyone get inspired to reduce the clutter, make their life at home easier, and enjoy the comfort of their space at home with the people their love.

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