I consider myself to be a pretty organized person, save for the junk drawer and my backpack graveyard of a hall closet (shhhhh). But since adding another kiddo into our mix, I can use all the organizational help I can get. That’s why I was anxious to get a copy of Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch’s new book Pretty Neat.

These ladies are the masterminds behind the ButtonedUp organizational products we love, and they also share their expertise over at Babycenter’s blog (like we do!).

While there are a ton of awesome, real life, easy to implement tips in the book, Sarah was kind enough to offer me some fantastic organizational advice and bonus tips just for our readers that I think you’ll love.

Q: Those two words “Get organized” sound simple but can be pretty overwhelming, especially for moms. What’s the biggest hurdle you find for folks in getting started?

A: There are a million reasons we avoid getting organized, but by far the biggest hurdle is the perception that “I don’t have enough time.” Our imaginations have a wonderful way of making problems — especially organization-related ones –much bigger than they actually are. It’s amazing what you can tackle in small windows of time by just taking baby steps,  and by allowing for a little imperfection. Set an egg timer for 10-20 minutes and just go to town on what you can.

Q: Especially after the holidays, it seems like we can never escape the toys. What are three tips to help parents help prevent a complete toy takeover of their house?

Twiggy hooks | Cool Mom Picks

1. Install a few hooks. The workhorses of the organizational world, hooks are inexpensive and make costume cleanup a cinch. Install a row of 3-5 (twig hooks from Studiolicious on Etsy) at kid height, in your playroom for your princesses and pirates. If you’ve got more costumes than those 5 hooks can hold, it’s time to donate a few. 

2. Set up a “toss” box and make time to fill it.  Grab a cardboard box and put it in the middle of the kitchen table one night this week. Set an egg timer for 15 minutes and then have a “race” to see who can find, and put in the box, the most broken, unusable toys. The winner gets to stay up later than usual on Friday night and you get to dump the waste without guilt that night.

3. Make a “too little for me” bin.  A lot of parents make the mistake of trying to cull their children’s toys without soliciting any input, because they fear their children won’t be able to part with their toys. But there’s one Jedi-mind-trick that really works. Put a cardboard box in your main playroom and title it: too little for me. Then go through toys with your children while they are playing and have them put “babyish” toys in that bin for you to give away, take to a consignment shop, or save if you’ve got another little one on the way.

Q: Kids and crafts = one dangerous combination. Any sanity saving tips for those of us with super crafty kids? (Other than ban glitter from the household.)

A: Two things–first establish one safe, crafting spot in the house and make that the only place for that kind of activity. Keep a plastic tablecloth, small dustpan and broom, and countertop spray/sponge in the same room, or in a nearby closet so you’re ready for the chaos that comes your way. Second once craft time is over, don’t just throw items in a drawer, put the tools of the trade away in a secret place, well out of reach.

Q: What are three easy ways to get kids involved and invested in getting and staying organized?

dwell studio storage bin | cool mom picks

1. Institute a “commercial clean” for each night one week.  As your kids watch TV this week, each time a commercial break comes on, have everybody clean up one room during the 2-3-minute break.

2. Give everything a home.  It sounds so obvious, but it is absolutely essential.  Your kids cannot put their things away if there is no place to put them.  Encourage your children to put their own stamp on toy storage. (Above: dwell studio storage bin) The more they participate in designing the storage solutions, the more likely they are to use them.

3. Make it fun.  Who says getting organized has to be boring?  Make a game of chores. Write chores on ping pong balls and put them in a bowl, then set the egg timer for 20 minutes. The child with the most “completed” chores (i.e. the most ping pong balls) “wins.”  A great non-monetary prize for winners is: stay up an hour later on the weekend or earn one chore-free night.
Q: What’s your absolute, must-have can’t live without organizational tool?

A: Trashcans, trashcans, trashcans!  Seriously, you should have at least one in every room–and never be more than two or three steps from one at any time.

For more amazing organizational tips, check out Sarah and Alicia’s new book Pretty Neat at our affiliate Amazon.com and subscribe to their column on the Babycenter blog

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