We live in a small house, by American standards. There are four of us sharing roughly 1,300 square feet. For down-sizers and folks who live in harmony with their rural communities or have a lot of outdoor room in which to stretch, that's probably grand. But in a suburban setting, it's not so hot. Do the math. That's 325 square feet per person in which we include the kitchen and bath facilities and inside walls. (Yes. They count. And the space they take is exponentially more noticeable in a small house than in a larger one.)
Sure, the Ingals family did just fine in their little home on the prairie with a shared loft bedroom for the girls. But times were different, and their home was surrounded by thousands of acres of open space, nature. Rural living brings with it, also, chores that help fill the day; chores that take moments these days given the automation. Wintertime would pose a greater challenge with more family members sharing the small space for more hours of the day and night. But still, there were winter chores and tasks to be done.
First step at our house is always sorting the closet and chest of drawers. It's an easy way to pare down the collection of clothes that have either been worn to threads or that the kids have outgrown. We divide the outgoing clothes between the recycling bin (ripped, torn or stained clothing), the local shelter-related thrift store (wearable, but not favorites) and friends who appreciate hand-me-downs (favorites that the girls would like to share especially with their smaller friends).
While we all love our stuffies, the menagerie has grown uncontrollable. We could pack half away and rotate the garage-packed half with the inside half now and again. In fact, that's an option with all of our belongings: pull out a segment and store the rest to be rotated in at some random time in the future. Certainly we do this with seasonal toys. (Christmas comes to mind.)
We already have a cute little shelving unit in the closet and it's great as a catch all for small things or sets of small things. But it's not ideal for larger items. It's probably time to redesign the closet with better shelving that can catch a lot of the bigger toys or sets without having to break them down for each storage session. For collections, I'm thinking about installing some display shelves for my older girls' dolls. She pulls them down to play with them, but also likes them to be on display for her full enjoyment.
I found some helpful hints here and here. This one is great if your kid only has one truck and doesn't care if he can access those boxes on the top shelf. And, finally, this one cracked me up. Step one: Toys outta there! Really? Where do you propose those toys go!? The KITCHEN? Garage? Backyard? Shed? Not entirely child-friendly, those.
No matter which article you find useful, be realistic. Be sure to take a look at the "end result" photos of any of these closet organizing places or bedroom organizing articles (especially those from commercial sites) and really THINK about what's in their room once all is said and done. Typically, there are no toys or stuffies or books in sight, and no apparent storage place that would accommodate a REAL kid's stuff.
What do you do to keep your kids' stuff organized, manageable while still accessible to the kids?