Let’s Talk

Here’s My Story

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.

Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!