Monday, July 16, 2012

Making Stuff: DIY Training Drawers

I'm always looking for ways to help the kids stay organized so they can enjoy their small space and not feel frustrated.  One is a boy, the other a girl; one has the world on his shoulders, the other carefree; one is a neat freak, the other haphazard and messy; one is conscientious with a weighty conscious, the other... not so much.  This all results in a lot of hubbub and frustration when it comes to mess and when it comes to cleaning.  The best of friends suddenly become mortal enemies.  Or else collapse into a pile of tears on the green animal rug in the middle of the room.

It makes me think of an old favorite book called The Bernstein Bears and the Messy Room which exactly describes our situation: the cubs always bicker about cleaning so nothing gets done and Mama has to come in and do it while the cubs argue away.  One day, Mama Bear has had enough, loses it, and just starts throwing everything away which results in panic and chaos.  Papa Bear comes in to settle things down and they all devise a plan that results in an awesomely organized space. There's a pegboard for hanging things, and lots of labeled boxes for games and things.  *Pitter-patter*  My heart can't contain the joy of seeing that organized closet!  I'm in love! I love that book.  I've implemented some of their strategies, but we're still having problems.

Caiden, in particular, has had a very hard time with her clothes.  Clothes are everywhere.  I have organized her drawers countless times and explained where everything goes.  I've chided her about putting things away!  But its hopeless...

About a year ago, I saw these fantastic dressers featured on the Apartment Therapy blog.  I love the idea of them, but the hefty price tag is completely unrealistic for us.  It sparked something, though, and ever since then the little wheels of my mind have been a'turnin'.

My mind kept coming back to that Training Dresser by Peter Bristol until I hit upon a spin off idea: instead of a dresser with drawers shaped like clothes, how about regular drawers with pictures on them of what goes inside?

So I took Caiden's two dressers and painted the outside of each drawer with a square of chalkboard paint and drew pictures in chalk of what clothing items go inside.  The cool thing is that you can always change it up. And... it works!

It has been wonderful so far and Caiden seems to be really encouraged by the help.  She now refers to each drawer as a "box."  She'll say, "Where does this go?... Oh! It goes in the pajama's box." and then she'll happily put it away.  Sure, she still drops her clothes on the floor a lot of the time, but at least when I ask her to put them away she doesn't grab them and shove them into the nearest draw.  She folds them and puts them into their proper places.  I love it!