Due to shelter in place orders, curfews, shutdowns, etc. many families are now house bound with home schooling well in progress. A few clients had reached out to me for suggestions for how to make clean up easier after the kids have used the kitchen table, dining table, coffee table, or counter top as their crafting, school, or play area for the day. I wanted to find something fairly affordable, aesthetically pleasing, customizable, easy to use and fun! Thanks to a lot of feedback from my friends who are parents, I was able to come up with a super simple design that you can easily customize to your needs and can be tucked away with ease when clean up is complete. Here's how you can do it yourself!
Thank you to my dear friend Emily and her son Callen, for allowing me to use them as an example. Callen is 4 and he loves to organize! Big brother Nico isn't as into arts and crafts, but he was very excited about how the cart turned out.
1) TAKE A BEFORE PICTURE
Take a photo of the space that is currently being used for school and arts and crafts. While this step isn't critical to the success of your organization project, it will feel really good to look back on and see how far you've come!
2) TAKE AN INVENTORY
What needs to go on your accessory cart? Do you have notebooks, pens, pencils, etc? Make sure you buy or make the appropriate containers to house the items you have. I spoke to Emily ahead to time to find out what kinds of things she hoped would fit on the cart and that determined what items I decided to order.
3) BUY OR MAKE YOUR SUPPLIES
If you don't have the budget to spend any money right now, consider other options that you might have laying around the house. How about a wagon with cereal boxes and disposable cups and organizing compartments? Or some shoe boxes with disposable cups or yogurt containers as inserts. Or a laundry basket with boxes inside to make categories. The most important thing is that it's easy to move, and that compartments are made to create categories.
If you have the budget to spend a little money I HIGHLY recommend the 3 tier rolling cart from Container Store. It comes in 6 different colors, is very easy to build! I also purchased the following products to create sub categories and easy to transport vessels within the cart.
- Smart Store Handled Tray (quantity 1)
- Colorwave Smart Store 4 Compartment Tray (quantity 1)
- Small Sort Store Inserts Pkg of 6 (quantity 1, package of 6)
- Tall Smart Store Insert (quantity 6)
- Medium Multi Purpose Bin (quantity 1)
4) GATHER EVERYTHING, SORT & CREATE CATEGORIES
Let your kids take the lead here since this is their space and they need to be the ones to find items when they want them and to tidy it up at the end of the day. Guide them when they are going astray, but let it feel like their idea.
This is how your organizing project is going to stay organized. Let your kids decide the wording
and have it make sense to them. You can label in all sorts of ways, but since this was a kids cart I wanted the labels to be pretty durable and smudge free. If you don't have a label maker that okay! Consider these options:
Print out text from your computer, cut it to size and attach with clear packing tape.
Use a sharpie on some painters tape.
Electrical tape and a chalk pen or silver/ gold sharpie.
6) ADMIRE YOUR WORK!
Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done! Give your kids a high five! I promise you that they'll be excited about their cart of things for them to do. Because they helped build it, they'll know how to put it all away.
I think Callen did a wonderful job with some guidance for his Momma and maybe a FaceTime call from his professional organizer friend;)
Tip: if you have more items than will fit on this cart, rotate items out. Maybe add a board game one day, or a desk of cards the next! Most families I work with have more than enough activities for their kids, the kids just forget what they have.
Now I get some of you are wildly busy right now and you'd really love for this to just show up at your door....then let's make it happen. I have a created a mini package for $100 that includes:
- the rolling cart.
- all of the organizational products linked above.
- a 15min virutal coaching session to help answer any questions you and your children may have through the process of organizing your cart.
If you're interested please email me at email@example.com so we can get the process started!