Make This: DIY storage makes playtime cleanup a snap
Feb 23, 2014 | 7764 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star
Deirdre Long/The Anniston Star
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I’ll admit — and my husband will gladly back me up — I’m not the best housekeeper (in my defense, neither is my husband). I’d love to walk across our floors without tripping over shoes, kicking Barbies and crunching Cheerios. I’d love to have counters without dirty dishes. And I’d really love to be able to use our dining room table for dining, instead of pushing away a pile of clothes to make room to eat (again, in our defense, at least the clothes are clean and folded — for the most part).

One of the ways I’m battling the clutter — and it is mostly just clutter, not piles of trash and rotting food — is by creating better ways to organize. I’d like to follow the mantra “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place,” but that means I first need a place for everything … and I don’t think that adding another layer to the strata of junk on our credenza really counts.

One of the worst and most repeatedly messy rooms is naturally the kids’ room. Two preschoolers and all their toys in one room? Yeah, only occasionally can you see the actual floor in there, and as most parents know, it hurts especially bad when you step on a Lego at 3 a.m. while trying to console a crying child.

So during one of my recent cleaning sprees, I decided to rearrange and de-clutter the kids’ room, since Christmas and a birthday had caused things to get a bit crowded. The best thing I did was get rid of my daughter’s dresser. One of the drawers had fallen completely apart and another didn’t work right anyway, so I moved her clothes to some plastic storage drawers that had been organizing toys. The clothes fit great (and the drawer set fits in the closet, which opens up even more floor space), but now I had to figure out what to do with all those toys.

I looked up and down for alternatives that would offer more floor space. Under-bed storage is a great space saver. You can buy plastic bins on wheels that roll under the bed, but I just used the leftover drawers from the dresser. They fit perfectly, and slide easily on the hardwood floors — no wheels required. On the occasions I do clean up the room, it’s easy to pull out all the drawers, dump in the toys and push them back into hiding. There is a downside: Storing toys under the bed means there are sometimes stepping on stray plastic Barbie heels hiding next to the bed. But otherwise, it’s been an easy solution for storage.

While most of the toys fit well in the drawers, stuffed animals are a different problem because they take up more space. I found some very creative stuffy storage ideas online, my favorite of which was making or reusing a bean bag cover to store them. Then it does double-duty as seating, too.

But I didn’t have an old one, and I didn’t want to take the time to sew a new one, so I settled on a toy net instead. I used some knit jersey (T-shirt material) and bias tape to finish the edges, and cut slits in the fabric to give it even more stretch (a full tutorial can be found online at lemonsqueezyhome.com). All the stuffed animals are off the floor, but it’s still hung low enough for children to reach. The way I have it hung makes a little-one-only entrance to a toy corner, which keeps the Big One’s baby crib and the Little One’s workshop and tools. That corner can get as messy as it wants — as long as it’s out of the way of foot traffic, I don’t care.

Keeping the kids’ floor tidy is even more important now because I bought a Roomba with our tax return. So far the robot vacuum is working great (especially on the aforementioned Cheerios), but one caveat is that the floor needs to be pretty tidy for it to work effectively. Knowing that I don’t have to sweep or vacuum is motivation enough for me to keep (some) of the other rooms in the house tidy, and I’m hoping the threat of a toy-eating robot encourages the kids to clean their room themselves.

We want to know how you’re spending your tax return, too, for a story in an upcoming Life & Arts. Email dlong@annistonstar.com or brettbuckner@ymail.com if you’d like to share.
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