January is the perfect time for me to clear the clutter and focus on the fresh start of a new year. One of the easiest and most practical ways for me to achieve this is what I call “creatively containing the mess”. I have four kids, so I don’t live in a dream world where my home is always perfectly picked up, cleaned and organized. It takes effort to keep my home looking in-shape, and even if you don’t have children, I feel we could all use a little help keeping our homes organized and clutter free.
Since my kids were big enough to walk, I’ve been putting name-labeled baskets on the stairs. Throughout the day they know to place their toys in their basket once they’re done playing with them, rather than leaving them scattered around the house. At the end of the day, I ask them to take the toys up to the playroom and put them away. Since we started this “no-brainer” (to put it in Chip’s words) concept for the kids, I’ve noticed that they’re more willing to help with clean up time, and I think it’s rewarding for them to see how big of a help they’re being. This makes clean-up more bearable to them, because instead of hiking up the stairs all day long putting things away, they have an assigned place for their toys, and only have to “clean up” once at the end of the day.
What I love about this concept is even though their toys are out and on the stairs, they are contained and labeled in a way that doesn’t make the house seem messy. It’s the balance of practical and pretty that I love to incorporate in the home. Have fun finding containers that match your home’s style- unique baskets and labels are worth the initial investment!
I’ve learned that a another great way to hide the mess is to create intentional spaces for toys, craft supplies and odds and ends to land at the end of the day. I like to purchase unique furniture pieces that offer a lot of practical organizational space. These kind of pieces can almost make the mess “cute” and well-played from a design standpoint.
I bought this old wooden chicken feeder at an antique store, and it lives upstairs in the playroom. It’s the perfect “built-in” organizational area for my kids. It matches the style of the farmhouse but also offers practical use for the kids. They know which toys belong in which cubbies, and it makes it easy for them to pick up after playtime. If you make it simple for them, you’ll be surprised how much they’ll respond and take responsibility.
The last little thing I want to touch on is creating intentional spaces, not only for them to organize, but for them to create, play and be imaginative. I have this really cool old blackboard in my home that I love to leave out with chalk for the kids to draw. All four of them know that this is a safe place for them to make a mess and have fun, and I think that’s important in a home. It helps your children recognize that it’s their home too and makes for a lot of happy memories and giggling around the house. I have a few of these types of things spread out in different rooms to keep them entertained and excited about being home.
I know for me art pencils and legos always seem to be scattered all around the house, I bought basic containers to store these smaller things in so the kids know where they go when they are finished playing with them. I also think it looks super cute out on the dining table or coffee table as intentional decor for the kids. If you don’t have a playroom in your home, maybe your child’s space looks like a little desk with jars of legos, paper, markers and a place they can hang their artwork. Maybe it looks like a chest of toys under their bed that they know they can pull out and make a mess with. Your space doesn’t have to look like mine, and it doesn’t have to be “perfect” for your kids to know that it’s a safe place to create and have fun being kids.
If you don’t have children, you can take this same concept in your bathroom with your toiletries and jewelry or your office with your supplies. Turn your clutter into creative displays that inspire you to keep them contained.
Have fun and be intentional and creative in your space for the new year! Be sure to tag me in your home organization photos on Instagram- I’d love to see how you creatively contain your mess!