• Cath Moore

Let's Make Tidying-Up Child's Play!

Is your child’s room a pigsty? Are you fed up with the drama of lost homework and mislaid clothes, sick of tripping on toys, lego-injuries, broken toys, torn books, missing components, wasted money?? Don't stress, with a little gentle persuasion, a plan of action, and a little bribery(!), you can turn this around, and, at the same time, help your child develop some important life skills: problem solving, decision making, discipline, and focus.


  • Put your frustration and judgement to one side! Ask your child to help you design and transform the room, and solve their storage issues. This will help them enjoy their space and maintain a tidy room longterm.

  • Think about the activity zones your child requires e.g. sleeping, dressing, schoolwork & crafts, floor area for games. Aim to store items for these activities in the relevant zone.

  • Get their analysis on which storage ideas currently work and which don’t - you need to see the room through their eyes, not just yours. The goal is to make tidying up a quick and easy task rather than an impossible slog.

  • Ask them to prioritise what they need to access - what are their favourite things?, what do they need daily? Make these things the easiest to access. Think about placing certain items out of reach so they cannot be used without adult supervision e.g. messy crafts, games with intricate parts etc.

  • Ensure all containers are child friendly and the right type and big enough for their designated purpose.

  • Use transparent containers or colour code where possible so your child quickly learns where things go.

  • Label everything (use pictures for pre-school children) and consider creating a storage map if this might help your child get used to a new storage system.

  • Avoid creating intricate storage systems which are tricky to use or too complex for your child. You want it to be super easy for your child to put their things away.

  • Where space is at a premium maximise vertical storage - use large scale cubic storage (e.g. Ikea’s Kallax) or wall cupboards and shelves. Consider raised beds with storage, seating, or desk areas underneath.

  • Incentivise your child to keep their room tidy with pocket money, screen time or other treats.


  1. SORT*. Gather everything and group items into categories

  2. PURGE*. Remove duplicates, anything broken or damaged, outgrown, excess items. If after purging you still have “too much” of a category then set up rotation boxes. Divide the things across two or more boxes, keep one accessible and store the other(s). Rotate the boxes as appropriate. This will help reduce overwhelm and keep toys/activities feeling interesting.

  3. DESIGNATE A HOME. Be specific e.g. the left or the wardrobe for school uniform, the top shelf for paints, the bottom of bookcase for reference books, the middle drawer for colouring books etc.

  4. CONTAINERISE. Use tough containers (bins, baskets, boxes, pop up fabric drums, drawstring bags, buckets etc) and divide and conquer their stuff. Make sure your child can handle the containers easily. Use colour coding or labels to show contents. Use shallow boxes or organisers within drawers to subdivide contents and keep things organised.

  5. MAINTAIN. Establish a tidying habit at a set time each day. Allow 5-10 minutes to put toys, books, crafts, clothes back into their storage places so the floor is clear at the end of each day. Use a piece of music to accompany the tidying time! With younger children be specific about what the individual tidy up tasks are - e.g. collect lego and put away, put pens and paper back, pick up clothes off floor and put in laundry, put dolls clothes away. A checklist might be helpful for this. Work alongside your child in the first few days to show them how to tidy and once they’ve got used to the system then cue the music and leave them to it!

  6. ADJUST. If things seem to be slipping back into chaos then you need to (calmly) ask why - it is likely that one of your storage ideas just isn’t working anymore - work with your child to find a better solution. At least once a year re-appraise your child’s storage system and change it up as necessary.

* Please see my previous blog “Less Is More” for detailed advice on sorting and purging children's things.

Tidying and organisation are life skills worth teaching your children. If you'd like more advice or need hands-on assistance transforming your children's spaces then give me a call, I'd love to help you Rule Your Roost.