Since I'm new to the professional organizing business, I've been testing my organizational skills on friends, and I was lucky enough that my friend, Emily, allowed me to help organize their toy room. I was stunned by the sheer number and categories of all the different items. So in classic Alicia form, I started researching and trying to better understand my clients. I read that a child in America, receives on average 70 new toys a year! When you think about birthday's and holidays, that's not too hard to wrap your head around. I thought to myself, this is going to be easy! They can't possibly love ALL of these toys?! Right? Turns out, it is HARD for children to let their toys go, every item they picked up the boys ooo'ed and ahhh'ed at. "Oh I forgot I had that!", "I remember this one- this person gave it to me." Even items I was sure were junk, had some sentimental story to it. Thank goodness Momma bear was close by and helped the kiddos (aged 4 and 8) wrap their heads around what would happen to the toys that they decided to part ways with. We talked about donating them, selling some, and select few that they weren't sure about would stay at home, but not in their toy room. The parents would keep them for 6 months, and if the boys said they missed them within that time frame, then they would get to keep them. If they didn't ask about them then the parents would get rid of them.
After purging a lot of toys, we began the process of designing the space based on their toy storage needs. Luckily they already had two enormous storage pieces with shelves. Emily had JUST labelled and categorized a lot of toys into clear storage bins, but much to her frustration, the organization didn't seem to last long. I love a challenge, so I wondered if the right bins, with the right labels might make all the difference in helping them stay organized. I wanted to make sure the bins were an appropriate size for the boys to manage on their own. I decided not to go with lids after watching them get cast aside by the boys. I wanted them to be semi translucent since Emily and her husband, Anthony would like to everything have open shelves where the toys are currently stored. Everything would be appropriately labeled with large, colorful words and pictures for each item. They also had a lot of artwork, so I proposed some simple, magnetic boards to display them. Finally their beloved Lego table would get the perfect little baskets to house all their lego pieces.
Categorize. Contain. Create.
- remove everything from the space.
- paint to give the toy room a fresh start.
- preliminary organization and categorization of toys into bins.
- build and mounting of magnetic boards.
- remounting of large shelving units.
Parts of this particular job stepped outside of traditional "professional organizing" work, but I love to DIY. I'm a very capable painter and building the magnetic boards is inside my skill set and it saved the homeowner money as buying these can run you at least $50 each. Anthony helped a ton which saved us valuable time.
When in doubt, label everything.
- LABEL EVERYTHING.
- mount wall mounted baskets under magnetic boards.
- test the kids to see if they know where everything goes.
Phase One of this project was all about getting organized and laying the groundwork for lasting organizational change in the space. A big piece of that was teaching organizational skills to the boys. We tested their knowledge of their new space by asking them to retrieve items from the cabinets for us. Then the boys left the room for secret challenge, while Emily and I "messed up" the space and placed toys all over the place! The boys came out and were so excited to see if they could put it all away- we had made tidying up a game! And amazingly they cleaned up our mess in under 2min. It was a lot of fun and definitely a great learning opportunity for the boys.
To be completely transparent, there are still toys that don't "fit" in the toy room: a hockey net, a miniature kitchen/store, and a gigantic Hot Wheels track. So much of the professional organizing business can be focused on looking perfect, but my goal is to make lasting change in a home. I am genuinely curious of the organizational changes made to the toy room are going to work long term for the boys- I believe it will but I have to be open to taking feedback and always remembering that everyone is different! It's about listening to the client and knowing what level of organization they can realistically maintain. This job taught me that when working with parents and kids, you have to listen to both of them. The kiddos think they can do this, the parents are cautiously optimistic, so I'm excited to see how this next week goes!
Phase Two of this project will involve built in desks for the boys and wall mounted storage for their art and school supplies. Overall, the end result is going to be a far more functional space for the family.