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.