The Content Council Pearl Awards • 2017 GOLD WINNER



Little Kids, Giant Messes

by Nichol Nelson

An organized nursery can be a room for your child to grow—neater

He’s a heartbreaker—and a home wrecker. Even at his tender age, baby Quincy has accumulated admirable collections of blocks, books, stuffed animals, and action figures—not to mention a cache of Legos that if swallowed are deadly and if stepped on disabling for parents and kids alike. It’s a minefield in there.

There’s not a mother or father alive who doesn’t long for a perfectly organized house, where life isn’t a battleground for order but a peaceful armistice where parenting skills can shine and children prosper. Perfection, however, is not an option when it comes to living with kids. Organization, on the other hand, is an obtainable goal—and for the health and happiness of the family, a goal that’s increasingly important to implement.

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Organization for the under-six set is a fluid discipline, a minute-by-minute cycle that bounces from mess to cleanup, from spill to structure. Functionally speaking, it’s built by creating a place for everything. More important, its success relies on shared responsibility between child and parent.

Plus, there’s good reason to make it a concern. According to a 2008 study by Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who described their homes as cluttered were “more depressed and fatigued, with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” If it’s been proven that lack of organization can lead to stress and depression, why is organization not prioritized like nutrition or exercise?

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    “Built to anticipate my organizational needs in a few years (with two growing boys), this closet can truly evolve with my family.” -Sophie Donelson, Editor in Chief of House Beautiful

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    Likely, because organizing a child’s space is vexing; it’s frustrating and can feel fruitless. And with US consumers buying 40 percent of the world’s toys, today’s kids are swimming in stuff. However, a systemized approach can help. Preschool teachers exemplify this by labeling bins, color-coding drawers, and arranging containers by size, creating an environment where students find things easily. Moreover, they’re advised to hold kids accountable for maintaining systems—what they remove, they put back. Where they found it!

    The key here is empowerment, and a systemized approach provides this. For example, shelving books by the color of their covers helps kids find their favorite story themselves, while storing toys low to the ground or art materials in clear jars allows them to locate (and return) items easily. Folding their clothes and stacking them like file folders in the drawer permit preschoolers to dress themselves without tearing up the dresser’s contents to find a Superman cape. Developmental psychologists point to established links between independent, self-sufficient children and positive self-esteem. By giving them the tools to be self-reliant—to clean their own rooms—parents help them learn responsibility, and save their own sanity. And, that’s not the only benefit. As Sophie Donelson, editor in chief of House Beautiful (above), says: “It made me a better mother.”

    CC Design Consultant:Carolyn Musher

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