large family logistics,  organization

Basket System Organization Hack


I shared a while back over on my YouTube channel (are you subscribed? If not, click here!) about my life changing 3 basket system! It is an organization hack that allows you to be 100 times more efficient at cleaning up, and it will ALSO put your kids in charge of keeping up with their own toys. ALL WITHOUT NAGGING!

Seem too good to be true? Think again! The reason this hack works wonders is because it is SUPER easy to implement!

With a family of 10, things get left out constantly. We need to have consistent “pick up times” to combat the clutter. Our usual pick up times tend to be after breakfast, after lunch, after school (or before Mike, my husband, gets home from work), and before bed. These are just quick grab-the-stuff-left-out-and-run 5 minute pick ups.

We also live in a 3 story home. This means there are 2 flights of stairs in our home. This also means that if we needed to run up and down them several times each pick-up-time, I would grow weary of it and probably stop implementing those oh-so-needed pick up times.

So then, what what do you do with all the stuff you pick up? I am glad you asked.

Enter the 3 basket system!

The first and second baskets:

I have strategically placed one basket at the foot of our second floor stairway and one at the base of our basement stairway. Both are large, and both are used the same way. (Looking for really cute basket to use? CLICK HERE)

During the pick up times, any item that doesn’t belong on the main floor goes in either the upstairs basket or the downstairs basket. Once a day, or when needed, these baskets are emptied by one of my kids, and the items are returned to to room they belong in.

Sometimes I will simply empty the contents on the dining room table and set each child’s abandoned objects at his or her place at the table. While I am cooking dinner, they are responsible for clearing their spot at the table.

One story house?

You may be thinking, “Well, Nicci, that sounds lovely, but I have a sprawling ranch. Stairs aren’t a problem!” This system is still totally doable! Instead of having an upstairs basket, you may end up having a “west wing” basket. Wow, that sounds super classy, doesn’t it? Or maybe one called the “bedroom basket”. Okay, that one sounds a bit risque… Call it whatever you want. Anything is easier than saying the-too-darned-far-away-to-walk-to-right-now-so-I-am-throwing-in-this-basket-so-my-house-doesn’t-look-like-a-trash-can basket.

The third basket:

The last basket is what our kids refer to as “The Sunday Basket” (aka “Toy Jail” or “The One-Week Boutique”). If our kids leave an item out after playing with it and do not remember to put it away, I will usually give them a gentle reminder and a few minutes to retrieve it and put it where it goes. If that doesn’t happen, I simply throw it into our Sunday Basket. There the toy or item will stay until the next Sunday. After church on Sunday the basket gets dumped and kids get called in to claim their items. If they don’t want to claim it, it gets thrown out or donated. Easy. Peasy. No yelling. No nagging. No punishments. Simply put, if I have to pick it up you may not see it for a little bit.

Optional “clean up” basket:

I will even use a basket if I am in hurry to collect all items (that belong on the main level of the home) so that I can deal with them after our school work, as not to disrupt the flow of our schedule. This keeps the main living area picked up and tidy which keeps mom sane, because visual clutter stresses me out. It also allows you to tuck this basket of randomness into a unused corner or closet if you have company drop by unexpectedly.

What is your best hack to get your kids to pick out their own messes without nagging?

Here is video describing in a bit more detail how we use this system with our family.