Getting out the door can be quite an ordeal with kids! You may often find yourself scrambling to find that lost shoe or lunch box. What about when you return? Is there a great big pile of little shoes that greets you and just keeps growing? Establishing a launch pad for your kids gives you that needed in-between place to house items needed when you leave and when you return home. A launch pad is a simple and efficient space that helps maintain and contain all that comes in or goes out of your home. The items may differ slightly and be unique to your family, but it is important to give every item a home so that items do not continue to collect into piles or get lost when you need them most. Here are some tips for organizing a launch pad for kids:
Location, location, location:
Launch pads should be visible, easily accessible, and by the entrance/exit of your home. Think through where you and your kids usually find yourself going in and out of the house. Also, think about the area that may always have a pile of items. If coats are continuously hanging off the banister, then you know you need something close by to help give them a home. A launch pad will be well placed wherever items seem to collect from their comings and goings.
Building a launch pad:
A launch pad can be a simple piece of furniture that has drawers, the entryway closet, organized in the mudroom, the kitchen desk, or put together in the garage. You also may actually need more than one place and the right organizing product will also help you as well. Take some time at this point to think about your comings and goings. If your child always enters the house through the front door, but leaves for swim practice through the back door, then shoes will find their resting spot at the front door while the swim bag will find its hook by the back door. Build your launch pad around your family and in a way that will help you and your kids.
Create a space for each kid:
How much help do your kids presently need to get out the door? Some find it really helpful to set their kids up with their own vertical space so they can quickly grab their shoes, coat, backpack, and lunch tote on their way out the door or easily unload for the day, putting all their items back away with ease. Each child should get their own designated hooks for backpacks and other bags, jackets, and a bin/basket for shoes. Giving them their own space also helps kids learn how to be responsible for keeping up with their own items and how to put away their items at the end of use.
Designate a home for every item:
- BACKPACKS, BAGS, AND JACKETS: Assign specific hooks to specific items. It may take a little bit to build a routine, but kids can get used to hanging their backpacks and coats on specific hooks. Guess what?! This makes going out the door so much easier because the item can be easily found on the hook where it was left.
- LUNCH BOXES: Put lunch boxes in their own place. Anyone else forget to empty lunch boxes or can’t find the lunch box in your Monday morning rush? If you have a designated place – a hook, basket, bin, or shelf – where lunch boxes go at the end of each day, then it will be much easier to remember to empty old food and find the lunch box to fill with food.
- PAPER: Have an area specifically designated for paper. All paperwork, especially kids’ documents can easily get out of control. Whether you designate a container or a basket, assign any paperwork such as schoolwork and artwork a home. You want this place to be visible to remind you to look through it each month/quarter. For more on saving kids documents for keepsake bins or letting paper go, here is a great blog post.
Keep the categories broad:
Don’t get too specific but stick with general categories when assigning homes to items. This makes it easier for kids so that they have just one spot to look. For example, if your child is going to need gloves, they will most likely need a hat, too. When they come back inside, they will be much more apt to throw both those items into one bin rather than trying to find the bin for gloves and the bin for hats.
Address those shoe piles:
Shoes can multiply quickly! You need a place for shoes if you do not want your kids to leave them in doorways, hallways, or even in the middle of the room. Baskets, boot trays, and shelves are all wonderful ways of storing shoes. However, if you never seem to be able to get on top of the shoe pile, it may be time to let some of the shoes go.
Use labels – pictures or letters – for easy reference:
Especially when it comes to really young kids, picture labels can work better than words because they can recognize the items in the pictures even when they cannot read. Once they are more comfortable with reading, then you can move onto words. Using labels is helpful for all ages because it helps kids remember where to find items and where to put items away. Whether you put a picture label of a jacket or the word “jacket” by the hook for the jacket, no matter what the age of your kid, this will help them to start building those orderly habits from a young age.
Use organizing products to make items accessible:
- HOOKS: Use hooks to hang backpacks, bags, and jackets. Whether using metal or plastic hooks, here are some great options.
- CLEAR BINS: We love large clear bins and just cannot say enough good things about them. They keep items containerized, yet visible, and easily accessible. This clear bin is one of our favorites!
- OVER-THE-DOOR SHOE ORGANIZERS: If you are using the entryway closet as your launch pad, then may we recommend an over-the-door shoe organizer? Everything from cold weather gear to small umbrellas and sunscreen work well in this organizing product. Kids are able to see the items for an easy grab, and they can definitely catch on fast to putting items back into the pockets.
- BASKETS: Baskets are a great way to quickly store shoes and other launch pad items. They are sturdy and pretty. These baskets are our favorite baskets.
Be ready for grab and go scenarios:
Backpacks, sports equipment, and pool bags are often in the launch pad. We recommend keeping these items always complete so that they are ready for a grab and go scenario. For example, make sure the pool bag is loaded with the pool pass, sunscreen, goggles, and towel. This ensures the bag is ready to go when your child needs to grab it. Yes, this does take more work up front, but it will ultimately make your comings and goings a more pleasant experience.
Do you have a launch pad for your kids? To share a tip or ask a question make sure to check out our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook!