I guess I will start in the KITCHEN. My kids have a rectangle Ikea table that they eat at for breakfast, lunch, & all snacks. We do family dinners at the main table, but for the other meals it is just an easier clean up for them to eat at furniture more their size. At the beginning of each day, the girls are given assigned cups that they must keep track of throughout the whole day otherwise, dishes get way too out of hand. They also use fun place mats most of the time. This helps to contain the mess. During any mealtime, the girls are asked to not get up from the table until they ask to be excused. When they asked to be excused, it is a lot easier to keep track of who cleaned up after themselves & who let out their mess. They through away any disposable plates or silverware & stand on a step stool to "wash" their dishes. 1 child is assigned to wipe off the top of the table & 2 of them are in charge of cleaning the floor. Of course, I know I am going to have to go back & redo some things, but it is so importance to teach them independence & responsibility early on. I also keep a step stool in the downstairs bathroom so they can wash their hands before & after meals independently as well (of course this is after many talks about how we wash our hands, how much soap is okay, how much water is okay, etc).
TOYS. As far as toys go, every toy has an assigned spot. I do not prefer toy boxes because in my opinion it just creates a jumbled mess where it is hard to keep the pieces of things together. I like using Ikea shelves with bins & certain Tupperware boxes for bigger toys that have a common theme (all the toy kitchen food/supplies, one for Legos, one for blocks). If each place has a specific spot, it makes it easier for kids to clean up on their own & not get overwhelmed. Adley is only 15 months old, but is already catching on to where each thing goes when asked to clean up because each toys spot is so specific & never changes. A lot of times parents clean up for their kids, but in the long run you are not doing them any favors. Later on maybe you will have to go back & tweak some of their work, but again teaching them to be responsible & independent is going to make a lot less for you to do later on.
BATHROOM. Finding a creative way to keep towels on hand is so helpful. I have hooks on the back of the bathroom door as well as each child having their own assigned towel hooks across the bathroom wall. The hooks are too high for the kiddos to put them back away, so I just have them hang them over the stair railing so they don't get the floor wet (and mommy can find them easily when she gets to hanging them back up when everyone is tucked away in bed). Their bathtub toys also have a specific container. They can play with the toys as much as they want during bath time, but when bath is over they are responsible for putting them back into the toy container.
As far as keeping the shoes straight, the long rectangle Tupperware is my best friend. Each child has their own box for their main shoes so nothing gets squished or mixed up. I also have separate boxes for their fancy shoes & boots. These boxes can easily be closed & stored under beds which is so convenient.
The 3 older girls share a bedroom & so their main clothes are arranged between 1 closet & 1 dresser. In their dresser each drawer houses a specific type of clothing. The girls have figured out the system so they can easily help when its time to put laundry away. The top drawer is for panties & tights, the next drawer is for casual shirts, the next drawer is for shorts, & the bottom drawer is or their pajamas. In their closet, the girls each have their own section for their clothes & then we have a bar at the top where we hang all their matching clothing together. This system works really well for us & makes it easy for the girls to select their own clothing if needed (or daddy) without too much confusion. Their tutus & "fancy" clothes just do not fit in this closet, so we have dedicated the closets in their playrooms to house these clothes. For socks, bibs, leggings, scarves, purses, & so forth they are kept in bins that we keep on the shelves in their closet.
As far as getting laundry done, it is always going to be a lot when you have a lot of kiddos who are constantly playing & just being kids. Unless you find a laundry fairy somewhere, its not going to change. BUT training your kids to put their laundry into the laundry basket when they take them off & getting them involved in the process (helping to separate socks, move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or help put the laundry away) are all great places to start at lightening the load.
|The matching stuff|
It works for now.
For years now I have been trying to figure out a good system for their bows. I have tried everything from bow boards to those cute letters with the ribbons hanging from them to hang bows on, but none of those solutions worked well for us. Finally, we recently came up with our own solution for organizing the bows by color at floor level so the girls can easily put them away & we can get the bows we need fast.
Well, I think that is just about it. Again, the process of effectively organizing our families is definitely a never ending journey, we are all constantly changing & growing. But every lil' improvement means something. Every family member is a part of the team, needed & necessary, & if we are all willing to work together & engage in the systems put into place-It can work!