Today’s post is the next in my series about tackling clutter hotspots before the school year begins! These posts were prompted by this question which I asked on simplify 101’s Facebook page last week:

The biggest source of clutter in my house is ___________.

How would you have answered this question? Would kid clutter top your list? If so, you’ll want to read the rest of today’s post! (By the way, if your answer is paper clutter check out this post on organizing school paperwork and if craft supplies are your clutter Achilles’ heel, read this post on organizing craft supplies.)

Clutter hotspot #3: Kids and the stuff they leave out. Your kids aren’t the only ones who leave stuff out, thereby creating surface clutter. Instead, you’re in good company! While misery loves company, solutions are even better! So here are two ideas to put into practice.

1. Establish a clutter bin. This is an idea I introduced in my Quick + Simple Clutter Control online class, and in my home, it’s an idea that has stood the test of time. A clutter bin is simply a spot to temporarily stash your kid’s clutter. There are two keys to making this system work. First, your child is responsible for putting away the items in his or her clutter bin. This way, you’re teaching your child to be responsible for his or her belongings, without constantly having to nag. Second, the clutter bin needs to be located in a centralized location, close to where clutter builds up. In my house, before the clutter bin, kid clutter had a way of collecting on my kitchen counter. So our clutter bins are located in the laundry room, just a few steps away from the kitchen counter.

Back-to-School Organization Ideas: How to Tackle Kids' Clutter

2. Make tidying up part of your daily routine. Set a timer for fifteen minutes, and challenge your kids to pick up the toys, books, and other items they took out and used today, and put them back where they belong. The ideal time to do this is at the end of the day, such as right before starting your kids’ bedtime routine.

Clutter hotspot #4: Kids and the stuff people give them. Oh I remember those days. The days when every time one of my kids left the house, he or she would return with a bunch of stuff…treat bags, candy, papers, balloons, tiny little toys, pencils, etc.! Here are two lines of defense. For family members who tend to give lots of gifts, have a heart to heart chat. Let your family members know that your children have plenty of things and that they really don’t need any more stuff. If the family member feels it’s important to give gifts, ask for clutter-free experience gifts, like tickets to the zoo, movies, or a local theme park. Second, for the inevitable items that do make their way into your home, establish a storage spot in your child’s bedroom. Kailea had a penny-candy jar in her bedroom for years which she used to contain all sorts of tiny treasures.

Back-to-School Organization Ideas: Solutions for Kids' Clutter


Clutter hotspot #5: Kids and their jackets, backpacks and shoes. The best storage solution for these items is one that is right by the door your children use most often. Install child-height hooks for jackets and backpacks. For shoes, consider a decorative basket or bin on a shelf. Keep ease of access in mind, as the easier it is to use, the more likely things will get put where they belong and not end up clutter!

Alright…tomorrow I’ll be sharing more organization ideas for kids’ stuff. Up next: kids’ clothes and toys!

What are your biggest clutter challenges? Have we touched on your top cause of clutter yet? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in the comments! 


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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