From clothes to toys to books and papers, kids tend to have a lot of stuff, and that can create challenges in keeping their rooms clean and organized. But you don’t have to live with the chaos and mess. With a little forethought and effort, you can get the kids’ rooms organized, and if done right, keep it that way. Here are some tips to help you with your organizational efforts.

Declutter (and Keep Decluttering)

Getting rid of kids’ items can be emotionally difficult for both parent and child, but in the long run, it’s for the best. It’s hard to keep a room organized if it is filled with too much stuff. Start with the easy items: clothes that no longer fit, broken toys and ones that your child has outgrown or lost interest in, books and papers that are beat up and no longer usable. Then, go back through with your child and see if there are things they no longer need and feel like they can part with.

While the initial declutter will be a big project, one way to prevent it from becoming that way again is to continually declutter. As you bring new things into the room, look for older items that you can get rid of. Holidays, birthdays, and changes of seasons are good times to go through your kids’ items a little closer and decide what really needs to stay and what may be able to be thrown out or donated.

Include Your Children

While you may be tempted to jump in and start organizing the room for your kid, it’s important to remember that it is still their room. To avoid hurt feelings over getting rid of something that you weren’t aware was important to the child and to help increase the chances of the room staying organized, including your children in the process is very important. Let them have a say in what you are keeping and what you are getting rid of, as well as where things will go in the room. Explaining the importance of donating items to those less fortunate can help make this process easier and smoother, and many kids will feel a high level of pride in helping others.

Create Zones

This is a universal tip for organizing any space in your home. Zones help create an organized and more-cohesive space. As you go through the decluttering process, organize the items you will be keeping into categories, then you can determine what zones you may need in the room. Designating specific spaces for sleeping, dressing, playing, studying, and so forth gives the room structure and makes it easier for kids to know where things go and keep them organized.

Use the Right Storage Organizers

One big mistake people make when organizing rooms is to buy organizers first, then try to work around them. You really should do it in reverse. Once you have your zones created and know where each are going in the room, then figure out what type of storage organizers – baskets, bins, furniture, etc. – you need for that zone and its contents. Measure each space and the items being stored carefully, then look for organizers in your home or at the store.

Use All the Space Available

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people forget or overlook some valuable storage space in rooms. First, consider going vertical. There is often a lot of space higher up walls that can be used. Install shelves or pockets to utilize that space. You could also hang a hammock from the ceiling or upper wall to hold things like stuffed animals. Another area often overlooked is under the beds. There are many bins that will fit under beds, and it is a great place to store off-season clothing you don’t want in the closet and items that your kid may be unable to part with right away but that they don’t use often. A final oft-overlooked area is the back side of doors. From hooks to organizers with pockets, there are several over-the-door options that can turn that back part of the door into an organized area to hold more things.

Create a Maintenance Routine

Once your kids’ rooms are organized, you want to keep them that way, so create a routine that works well for your kids to maintain the organization. Whether it’s designating a few minutes each day to do a clean-up or setting up schedules for different days of the week, find a maintenance routine that works for you and your kids. You may have to work on it over time and adjust as you go, but finding the right routine will help prevent the clutter from returning.

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