All photos courtesy the Container Store

“I love our family’s prize collection of muddy cleats, exploding backpacks and musical instruments right by my front door…” said no mom ever.

We totally get it. No-one at home picks up their sh*t. Keeping everyone’s gear in check is overwhelming and exhausting, so we headed to the new Container Stores in Livingston and Bridgewater, and asked in-home designer Michell Olejarz and trainer Greg Montoya to share their best tips on how to convert chaos to order.

“It’s all about accessibility,” says Olejarz, who helps create custom closet solutions for busy parents. “If you have messy kids, keep storage simple and flexible—you want an easy system where they can put their own things away.”

Here are five tips to help contain the mess:​

Use your vertical space

For big rooms with no structure create a setup that stashes family belongings at different levels. “Shelving or stacking bins are a good starting point,” Olejarz says. “Items all over the floor will stay that way until you bring vertical usage into place.” Organize toys in bins low down for little ones up to five years. For older kids, keep a small step stool handy so they can manage their gear on multiple tiers.

Color coordinate the kids (and adults!)

Assign a different colored set of bins, shelves or drawers to each member of the family. When he knows the green crates are his, he’ll take total ownership and clean up his stuff in no time. “It’s easy to pick from a wide range of colors that go with your decor,” Montoya adds, “using semi-transparent containers help take the guesswork out of knowing what’s stored inside.”​

Label it!

Level up from color coding and categorize bins, boxes and drawers with labels. It’s the ideal way to give her toys a place to live and she’ll know where to put them back after playtime. “Labeling is so important, even if children are super small and they don’t read yet, they’re going to learn very soon,” Olejarz says. “They’ll soak up the education that’s right in front of them.”

Make it grab ‘n’ go

Small totes and caddies with handles and compartments are a sure-fire way to keep craft activities in check—especially for clean up. The kids can grab what they need and go play, then return loose supplies back to their designated drawers when the masterpiece is done. Short on space for totes? Use collapsible pop-up cubes that have handles as an alternative to a caddy which can be stored flat when not in use.​

Make it fun!

Parents are often overwhelmed by everything and don’t know where to start. “One project at a time,” says Montoya, “If you’re thinking about how disorganized your whole space is, you’re never going to get started. Pick the one place that’s driving you nuts—usually the space by the front door—and go from there.”

“Organization doesn’t have to be a chore,” adds Olejarz. “It’s about finding solutions that are stress-free, that suit your family and lifestyle for a fun, happy living space.”

The Container Store has four locations in NJ.

372 W. Mount Pleasant Ave., Livingston
(862) 245-5990

335 Chimney Rock Rd., Bound Brook
(732) 907-5180

Cherry Hill
2000 Rte. 38, OP-2, Cherry Hill
(856) 317-7134

Paramus (*closed on Sundays)
370 Rte. 17, #1, Paramus
(201) 265-9004​

As part of our Mother’s Day giveaway, you can enter to win a $200 gift card to the Container Store! Head to our Instagram starting May 7 for a new giveaway every day leading up to Mother’s Day and beyond!