Organizing my kids' activity drawers | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Organizing my kids' activity drawers

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Organizing my kids' activity drawers

These are my kids' activity drawers and they are a MESS!  It's hard to find anything in them and even harder to put things back.  Things are just jammed in there.  And look at all the stuff on top that can't even fit inside.

At one point in time, these drawers were organized...a few years ago when we started using them.  The idea was to have a place to hide store colouring books, crayons/markers/pencil crayons, activity books, flash cards, some craft supplies, and a few games.  These plastic drawers are in our dining room on our main floor so the kids have easy access to these items. 

Lately though, they have become a disaster.  Everything gets shoved in there haphazardly and it becomes hard to find anything because they are so full.

Look at those drawers!  They are SO overwhelming!  They really need to be dealt with.  However, my next project was supposed to be creating a craft / activity area in our basement (I mentioned this idea in my organizing our summer post).  What to do?  

 Well, since some of the items in these drawers will go in the new craft area, I decided it made sense to purge and organize these drawers first.  {This is another example of one project turning into multiple projects in my house - or maybe it was procrastinating since I was a little unsure of exactly what I was going to do for the craft area - either way, at least I was organizing something!}

So, I jumped into organizing the activity drawers.  I emptied everything out of the drawers and purged as I went.  Here is the recycling pile (mostly works of art scraps of paper and completed activity books) and the garbage pile (a bunch of dried out markers and two felt boards that were missing most of the felt pieces).

This is the giveaway pile (mostly activities or supplies that my kids had outgrown).

I also made piles for things that should be relocated to other places in the house (mainly to the kids' bedrooms, their memory boxes, and the basement).

I set aside all the crafty items to bring to the basement for our craft area.

I also set aside some colouring sets that haven't been completed (or in some cases started - I'm so glad we have some down time this summer to work on these!).  I plan to put these in the new craft/activity area too.

Then I sorted everything else into piles so I could figure out the best ways to keep these items organized in the plastic drawers.

What a lot of stuff!  While I had everything out of the drawers, my hubby gave them a good cleaning for me.  Don't they look nice now?

I had some containers available to help organize the drawers.  I used several plastic pencil cases and a small Rubbermaid container to group and organize all the markers, crayons, pencil crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, etc.  I also upcycled a leftover food container for the Colour Wonder markers (I didn't bother to label it since you can see through the top).  And my daughter had a cute Ariel box that I used for her plastic stencils.  Everything is much more organized now!

Here's a look at the drawers after.  They are a lot less overwhelming now!  {I apologize for the poor lighting in some of these pictures - because these drawers are clear it was hard to control the light shining through them.}

My goal was to have a different category for each drawer so things can always be put back with other similar items.  I ended up with two categories in a few drawers though because I didn't have enough of some categories to use up a whole drawer and I had more than 4 categories in total.  With the labels I think it will still work though.   In the next few paragraphs and pictures you'll see how I organized each drawer.

In the top drawer I put all the Colour Wonder things that were sitting in that blue basket that was on top of the drawers before (notice the top is clear now?!).  I also put the containers with crayons, pencil crayons, markers, and stencils.  {If you're wondering what happened to the pencils and erasers, I decided to put them in one of our desk drawers since the kids often sit at it when they are writing.  The desk is actually right next to these drawers anyway - yes, we have a desk in our dining room - long story - I'm sure I'll tell you about it sometime.}  Anyway, here's the top drawer now:

The second drawer has all their various notebooks and notepads.  I purged quite a few (probably should have purged more!) but my daughter in particular likes making little notes or drawings in them.  The other half of the drawer has stickers albums, sheets of stickers, and a container filled with stickers.  My daughter LOVES stickers and they are typically all over our house.  She had some in this Turtles container before but hopefully she'll keep them all in here now that it's easier to access them in these organized drawers.  If these two categories start to blend together too much I will try to find large shallow baskets to help separate them.

In the third drawer I put a few games that I decided to keep upstairs after all (instead of with the rest of the games in the games cupboard in the basement).  My daughter still needs a few fun things to do on the main floor when we're spending time there.  The other side of the drawer has a couple of projects she is in the middle of.  Underneath them is a really cute Disney Princess decal set that has a lot of little pieces.  She needs help cleaning it up when she plays with it so I want it kept on the main floor instead of in the basement where I can pretty much guarantee she'll lose pieces. 

That left me with one empty drawer so I was able to use it for some of her toys.  Right now it just contains her tea set (which was also sitting on top of these drawers before - I'm so glad it fits inside now!).  However, I still need to organize some of her toys and I will probably add a few more in here then.

I love how much space there is in each drawer now.  It's so much easier to find what you want and put it back neatly. 

I made some labels for the drawers and then put them in pages that I cut out of a little 4x6 photo album that I wasn't using anymore.  This way I can easily switch up the labels when the contents of the drawers change over time. 

I didn't have any double sided tape to attach the photo album pages to the drawers so I used the next best thing... duct tape!

And there you have it!  Organized activity drawers.  Here's a look at before and after.

One last look...

I LOVE that empty space on top and how organized it looks with those labels (and the fact that you don't see nearly as much stuff crammed inside the drawers!)

Now to set up my craft / activity area in the basement with the items I took out of these drawers!

Do you store kids supplies and activities in drawers?  What tips do you have for organizing them?   Have you ever procrastinated started one project before another one that you had planned to do?

Happy organizing!

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