Organization Tips for Families – Part II


Every family can benefit from organizing. In this post I’ll share organization tips for families at every stage, from families with infants to empty-nesters like us. And from personal experience, it’s best to de-clutter and organize at every stage!

We have a walk-up attic which made it far too easy to stash bins up there to deal with ‘later.’ You guessed it, big mistake. We’re still sifting through some of those bins!

I’ve learned that time spent organizing, as discussed in Part I of this series, can actually save time and money and improve your mood.

Organization tips for families with infants to preschoolers

There’s so much stuff associated with this age group! I asked my friend Lauren Saltman (owner of Seacoast’s Living Simplified) what ‘organized’ looks like, as I remember more than a few Legos underfoot…

“Keep organizing systems easy. For example, use bins (labeled to help the adults!) to corral small toys. Use multiple bins inside a dresser, each one holding a different item such as socks, pajamas, tops, and bottoms,” suggested Saltman.

Set up a secondary diaper changing station on the main level of your home (if the changing table is upstairs) to save time and energy.

Saltman recommends keeping a bin in your child’s bedroom closet for outgrown clothes and toys. “Once a month, you can go through the bin and decide what to keep, to pass along, and to throw away,” she said.

Assign another bin or box to store special items.

“Having a memory box for each child in your family gives you a quick place for items that you know you want to keep,” said Saltman.

A few simple systems in place will help your household run as smoothly as possible with young children.

For families with elementary and middle school kids

At this next stage of family life, getting the kids involved in organizing teaches them lifelong skills.

Our kids at these ages put away toys, placed dirty clothes in hampers and put away their clean clothes. They made their beds, emptied trash cans and brought in mail.

We had our kids go through their backpacks every night and pass along any notices we needed to see. This saves everyone from the last-minute panic of finding a form that needs to be signed ASAP or getting snacks that are needed tomorrow morning!

It’s also a great time to clean out lunchboxes and to decide what to do with artwork and all the other papers that make their way home.

For families with high school kids and older

Older kids are capable of taking on more household responsibilities. They’re also busy, independent and not always interested in helping out.

“Kids this age can help cook dinner, take care of their laundry, and change their bed linens. They can keep their sports equipment well organized and clean,” suggested Saltman.

With so much going on it’s important that older kids take responsibility for their schedule. They can update a family calendar or post their practice or work schedules on a bulletin board or electronically. A weekly check-in on Sunday nights is always a good idea!

Just shut the door….

Then there’s a teen’s bedroom. While it is their private space it is still part of your home.

“A common battleground between teens and parents is the state of their bedroom. Pick the items that are most important to you, communicate this well to your teenager, and remember, you can always shut the door and ignore the mess,” advised Saltman.

For empty nesters

We’re at this stage now with our family. We’ve found that less is definitely more! It is easier to live in and take care of a house that has less stuff. I use the ‘one in, at least one out‘ guideline for any new item that comes in the house.

It’s also time to downsize your kids’ stuff, and sensitivity is important.

“Watch for cues to see if they are ready to tackle these items. If you’re not in a rush and they seem resistant, then it’s okay to postpone going through everything. But do give those young adults a deadline to keep them motivated to spend the time going through their items,” said Saltman.

For all families, organize your time

I’m a big fan of menu planning, as is Saltman. When you create your grocery list decide on dinners for the week at the same time. You’ll have all the items you need on hand and can just pick from the list of dinners to make on any night. It makes dinner time so much easier!

Keep a daily/weekly schedule that’s easily accessible for all family members. All activities and appointments should be listed, and older kids can update it with their own activities.

Let’s get started!

Time spent de-cluttering and organizing will help your household run more smoothly.

These organization tips for families are just a starting point. You decide what organized means to your family, there is no one solution!

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Hello, I’m Nancy! I’m a New Hampshire native and have enjoyed living in the Seacoast with my husband, stepdaughter and son for quite a while, decades in fact! I’ve been a software engineer, home stager, a school and community volunteer and a stay-at-home mom. I wrote a weekly running column for Seacoast Sunday/Foster’s Daily Democrat/Portsmouth Herald for many years and reported on road races including my dream assignments at the Boston Marathon. Not surprisingly, I’m an avid runner and am happiest outdoors! Nothing beats the sweet exhaustion after a long and active day spent outside in every season. Our nest is now generally empty with both kids navigating their own adult lives and my husband and I are enjoying our time together and with our two great cats. Motherhood (and life) is ever-changing and I’m adjusting to this new stage and reflecting on how lucky we’ve been.