What a Professional Organizer Uses to Keep Her Kid’s Bedroom Under Control

Jon Gugala

When it comes to organization, kid’s bedrooms are difficult to crack. You want to keep it tidy, yes, but you also don’t want it to seem like they sleep in some sort of personality-less bubble. It’s all about that balance. But still, you need to establish routines that condition cleanliness. This is especially important at back-to-school season when chaos can reign supreme.


“Pick one battle, and try to win that battle,” says Amy Tokos, a NAPO-accredited Certified Personal Organizer and owner of the company Freshly Organized. For almost 11 years now, the Omaha, Nebraska, local has been helping people clean up and stay that way. But Tokos, a mother of four, has a special place in her heart for families. When asked about the best products to organize a kid’s bedroom, she was a fountain of information. Her advice, paired with some of our favorite organizational systems, is just what you need to start the school year and the fall off right: neat, orderly, and with everything in its place.

Contain the Clutter

You know that crippling, overwhelmed feeling you get when walking into your son or daughter’s thrashed bedroom? They feel the same — only amplified. “[Kids] don’t notice it when they’re pulling stuff out, but trying to get it all back in is very hard on children,” Tokos says. The solution? Store excess books and clothing. Kids won’t notice what’s not there and, with the less in the room, there’s less to throw around.

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Shrink the Toy Pile

“The same goes for toys,” Tokos says. “You minimize them, it’s easier for them to pick up and clean up.” This is to say, find a selection of toys that stays in the room and put the rest of them in a series of bins that you’ll move in and out


Our Pick: ClosetMaid’s Cubeicals come in a bunch of fun colors, which are also useful for organizing by child.


Opt For Open Shelves

Tokos, like many personal organizers, is a fan of simplicity, but she doubles down when it comes to organizing for families. She gives an example of a game closest. To access the game, your child must open the closet, remove the game, take the game somewhere, play the game, clean up the game, take the game back to the closet, open the closet, put the game in the closet, and close the door. “That whole process is a lot of steps,” she says, “so kids aren’t likely to complete that process.” Instead, she recommends using an open shelf, uncluttered, with a few games — two or three — near the play area.


Our Pick: Seville Classics 2-Tier Rack, which easily accommodates a few games while allowing ease of access with its open shelves.

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Establish a Get-Ready Station

Older kids reach a point when they’re spending more time in the bathroom than they used to, which can affect usage by multiple children. Tokos recommends moving everything out that doesn’t require water. Blow dryers, curing irons, makeup, and a mirror should all be moved into the bedroom to alleviate traffic. “It frees up the bathroom for other people to use,” she says.


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Embrace The Rotation System

 It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of continually buying new toys if they’re educational. While Tokos cautions against even this caveat, she proposes a compromise: Get one or two big plastic bins and divide toys into two or three groups. Keep one group out, with one or two stored away. Every week or month, rotate a new group in as the current group cycles out.


Our Pick: The Sterilite 66 Quart Ultra is slim enough to slide under a bed, and has wheels that allow it to easily roll to another room for long- or short-term storage. $46 for a set of four.

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Set up a Lost and Found Bin

For anyone with school-age children who’s overwhelmed with all this stuff that’s always laying around the house, Tokos suggests establishing a Lost and Found. The concept is simple: Just like any other public place, things that are left out are thrown en masse into a basket. When your child is searching for that specific toy, direct them to check the lost-and-found. “You’re not taking responsibility for that stuff, but their stuff is not in your space.”


Our Pick: The Rubbermaid All Access Organizer’s drop-down door can be opened with a foot for deposits but, when not in use, keeps items locked away.

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