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Controlled Chaos

Courtesy of

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As a mom, it is not unusual to be overwhelmed by the “mess” that our kids can create. With toys all over the floor, crayons scattered on the table, and jackets strewn by the door, we can feel like we live in chaos; however rather than removing the chaos all-together, the balancing act that we should strive for is controlling the chaos that is around us and opening the world for creativity and exploration in our children.

I once had a teacher come into my home and I did the natural thing – I apologized for the mess of toys on the floor. Her response was this:

“Don’t ever apologize. Seeing a kid’s mess lets me know that they know how to play and you know how to let them!”

A Reflection of You

We all have been told, and likely feel that our home and children are a reflection of us as homemakers (stay-at-home moms or not), wives and mothers; and really they are. But that doesn’t mean that our children have to be perfectly clean or our homes as that of a magazine page to display what we are made of; rather just as “beauty is fleeting,” the “outward” of our children and our home doesn’t matter nearly as much (or often at all) in comparison to the “inward” reflection. Our focus should be that of personality traits we want to instill in our children—love, excitement, strength, creativity, curiosity, etc.—and the love that our home shares with others—family and friendly gatherings, a place for those in need, a place to call home, etc. In fact, this magazine-perfect, stereotypical representation of control could actually hinder expected outcomes if you strive to achieve them in the wrong manner.

Fun Chaos—Not Crazy Mom

Children are the embodiment of chaos, and to think that you can completely control that is a lie. Those who try, in fact, create environments that are stiff and strict and do not invite the creativity and experimentation that is needed in growing children. Finding a balance between teaching your children to explore, create and play and expecting everything in its place at all times can be a difficult task. You want to be able to feel comfortable having guests over, or feel relaxed in the space that you call home; but at the same time, you want you children to feel comfortable being themselves, creating cherished memories and exuding laughter and excitement. This comes with understanding that children will make a mess, your house may not always look the way you want it to, and that is perfectly fine! Real life is not Pinterest and real homes are staged before appearing in HGTV!

Accessibility is Key

In your strive to make you home a place where relationships and character building come first, an important key is accessibility. If children can’t get to things—or worse, think they will get in trouble if they do—then they won’t. This is where organization, if tackled as though children were adults, can hinder progress. It’s not bad to be organized, and have a home for everything—in fact that can help a child grow in a different way, with understanding responsibilities, knowing boundaries, etc.—but we don’t want to stifle a child by making the organization process too difficult.

Have you ever walked in to a good daycare or preschool class before the children arrive. Generally what you will find is a clean, organized place. Sure, there will still be toys everywhere, but they have accessible homes, and this should be our endeavor with young children in the home. We want toys, activities, projects, etc. within their reach, but not all over our kitchen floor—unless of course they are in the process of playing with them.

Finding organizing solutions that are accessible to your children will save everyone’s sanity. Not only will these solutions make their toys accessible to play with, it will also make clean-up time easier. If they are needing less help to put things away, they can do a better job when asked to do so.

Labels Kids Can Understand

Making sure everything in your house has a home of its own is the rule of thumb in organizing; but if you are the only one who knows where that home is, you will be stuck doing all the cleanup. Labels are your lifeline! But it is important that labels are understandable by everyone in the home. Making labels clear, perhaps using pictures, will help everyone to know where things belong.

When cleaning up with your children, you can reinforce the labels. Rather than saying, “Put the Legos in that bucket over there,” you can say, “See the bucket with the picture of Legos that matches what you are holding? Put it in that bucket.” A few times of this will help children understand your labeling system and be more likely to follow it.

Set the Tone

We all want our children to pick up one toy before playing with another; however, if we look at our own actions, can we always say that we do that? Rather than harping on our kids to learn something, it is always best to set an example. This starts with our “toys.” Whatever your pastime activity may be, having an organization solution that is easy to access—and therefore easy to clean—is a great first step at helping your children learn to clean up after themselves.

In situations where you are working on something and your child would like you to do something else—so long as they are old enough to understand—explain to them that you must clean up your mess before you start something new. Put things away before moving on, then when you tell them to do the same they will have seen your actions as a model.


What is clutter? And how do we keep it from dominating our space? Put simply, clutter is anything that is never or rarely used.

  • Is it broken?
  • Have you used it, within the last year?
  • Would you take it with you if you were moving?
  • Do you have multiples of the same item?
  • Has it been replaced by something better?
  • Does it have a home or is it worth creating a home?
  • Does it hold sentimental value?
    • Is it associated with a happy memory?
    • Is it the only and best item regarding this memory?

Once clutter has been sorted out, your best bet is to let go immediately. If an item is held on to—to sell at a garage sale, give to a relative you hardly see, donate in large drop-offs, etc.—you have the potential of allowing it to reintegrate into your home and remain a nuisance in your space. Instead, part with it quickly, through donations to charity or sale through local online used sales (such as Craigslist or sale groups on Facebook).


Open Storage

  • Open storage is great for visibility, accessibility and choice; however, in a centralized location, open storage can get mottled and messy.
  • Great for area specific items, like craft supplies on a desk or bath toys in a tub

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Closed Storage

  • Closed storage is great for less often used items
  • Clear containers or drawer work best for children
  • Make sure you use a container that can easily be opened and closed by the child, or else you will be the one opening and closing it for them

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  • Items in containers change, often, so permanent labels should not be used
  • Be creative, fun labels encourage children’s use

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Mommy’s Storage

  • This is the best stuff to go in those higher, harder to reach places, allowing for lower spaces to be accessible to children
  • Use storage solutions that are as pretty as they are functional to make it fun to use them

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Drop-off Zone

  • Have a “drop-off” zone where shoes, jackets, backpacks, purses, etc. can be set and stick to it—or else the closest empty surface will be used
  • Make the area within reach of the entry door your family uses the most
  • Use hooks, shelves or some other solution to keep things off the floor
  • Have an area for mail to be dropped

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Remember, not everything will work for everyone. Find what works for your family, focusing on spiritual, emotional and physical needs first, and the rest will fall in place.



**In no means is this a review or endorsement of above mentioned products, they are merely suggestions of potential solutions. It is always best to do research in regards to the quality and standards of products, reading through reviews of others who have purchased the items as well as fully understanding the products limitations and warrantee information.


The above mentioned items not designed by DMO can be found at the following websites respectively (as websites are outside sources, I apologize if any link becomes inactive in the future):

Open Desk Storage

Adhesive Label Holders

Frame Labels

Clothing Tags

Corrugated Labels

Label Punch

Dry Erase Tape

Dry Erase Removable Labels

Entry Locker

Docking Station

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