This week 4 Moms, 35 Kids are talking storage, how do you store what you own? Feel free to link up at the bottom of this post.
My bottom line best storage solution is to get rid of things that don’t fit comfortably into your space.
You may think, “Easy for you to say, you have a large home.” True, but we haven’t always lived in a large home. We had our first (almost) 6 children in 900 square feet with no usable yard and closets that were not deep enough to hang a regular sized hanger. We could do it again. Whenever we visit historic Appalachian cabins where men and women raised really big families, I know that we could do it again.
Happiness isn’t found in all that stuff and sometimes less stuff will give us the freedom to better enjoy what we do have.
Here are a couple problem areas, how we try to stay on top of them and how we manage what we store.
In season, in size clothing is limited to several outfits per child and stored in a drawer in their bedroom. Out of season, out of size children’s clothing lives on these shelves in our garage.
We have a box for each size (or couple of sizes), gender and season of clothing for clothes that one of our children will be using within the next year – two years. We do not keep more clothing than will fit into one box. We keep shoes all together in one box because shoe sizes don’t seem to relate to clothing sizes and many shoes are gender neutral.
Since most of our children’s clothing is handed down to them from friends and acquaintances (Reason # 217 for having a large family: EVERYONE thinks of you when they have a bag of clothes to hand down.) or purchased at yard sales, we do not pass clothing down through all of our children but pass them on after they’ve been used by the children close to that size.
Our children have never lacked clothing. God always provides and I am constantly passing things on because we receive more clothing that we can use. One season our oldest daughter Amber had no clothing in her size. Mark and I prayed and by the end of the week she had more clothes than the rest of us. We ended up giving away 2 large garbage bags full of nice clothing in her size because God provided above and beyond what was needed.
We find that our children enjoy playing outside with sticks, rocks, plants and water and that with a little imagination anything can become a toy, so we try to limit the amount of toys that we own. That said, I’m a sucker for educational toys and games and building toys, so it’s a bit of a struggle.
We keep semi-quiet toys in baskets in our family/school room. We have a small basket of miscellaneous baby toys in addition to several baskets of different types of blocks and building toys. There are also a variety of quiet learning games and puzzles.
For toddler puzzles I put all of the pieces to each puzzle in a separate Ziploc bag. The puzzle backs are stored in one of those baskets under the desk with the Ziploc bags beside them. When a child wishes to play with a puzzle they pull out the back or frame of the puzzle and then find the appropriate Ziploc with the pieces. I use this same system for board games whose boxes have been destroyed.
Some ideas to keep toys under control:
- Choose quality toys that encourage open-ended, imaginative play. (We love dress ups and blocks.)
- Limit the space where you store toys and get rid of things that don’t fit into that space.
- Have your children regularly go through their toys and pick items to donate or giveaway. Our children enjoy giving toys to friends who they believe will enjoy them. (I always ask parents first.) We always try to do this just before the holidays.
- Pick a few ‘sets’ of toys that your children enjoy and stick with those, avoiding others. For example we have a small collection of LEGOS, Playmobile, Brio compatible trains and GeoTrax.
- Designate a box (or boxes) for each set and limit the toys in that set to those that will fit into that space.
- Put a flexible limit on the number of ‘lovey’ toys each child owns.
- NEVER donate or get rid of your children’s things without their knowledge and approval. I encourage our children to choose something to giveaway, but they always make the ultimate decision.
- Encourage grandparents to give experiences as gifts. Season passes, music lessons, cooking classes and camping trips all make wonderful gifts that our children love.
- Give your children tools, not toys.
We have book shelves in every room in our house except the bathroom. (I’ve floated the idea of putting rain gutter bookshelves in our bathrooms, but Mark is highly resistant because we have boys.) So far we haven’t run into the problem of too many books, but I don’t have a good system for keeping track of what we have, so I’m asking you, how do you organize your books? I’d like a way to keep track by time period and by topic/person, any ideas?
Did I miss a specific storage solution that you are wondering about? Please ask in the comments and I’ll answer next week when the 4 moms answer your questions.
I’m thinking at least one of the other 4 Moms will have a good system for books, check out their storage solutions:
Feel free to add your storage solution post below. Please link directly to your post (not to your homepage) and include a link back to at least one of the 4 moms so that your readers can read all of the storage solutions.
Upcoming 4 Moms topics:
- September 23: Questions for the Four Moms. Feel free to use the contact form and email questions you’d like me to answer.
- September 30: How we find individual time with our husbands without spending money