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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Kids need and want a lot of stuff. Every day, kids use most of their stuff. In kids’ world, the fun factor is directly proportional to how much stuff an activity requires. At the end of the day, you can reconstruct the kids’ activity schedule from the trail of stuff they left behind. The trail of stuff usually ends at the bathtub where kids use more waterproof stuff as they relax at the end of their busy days. Strategic moms make “stuff management” the next-to-last thing in their children’s day, demanding their tired toddlers put away all of their stuff before they settle into bed to say Good Night, Moon.

Contrary to popular belief, kids can learn to pick up and put away their stuff even in the absence of Mary Poppins and a big production number. Kid-friendly storage tools prove Mary Poppins was correct when she said, “In any job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”

Dual purpose furniture Cleverly designed, well-padded cylinders, rectangles and cubes look like brightly colored footstools or kid-sized ottomans, but their hinged lids open to reveal massive storage space inside. The space is perfect for Duplo and Lego blacks, Hot Wheels, Polly Pockets and all those little toys that threaten to choke the cat or clog the vacuum. On good days, up to 90 percent of the toys from the floor will make it into the attractive multi-purpose family room furniture.

Super strategic moms also add dual-purpose toy chests outfitted with super-safe stay-open hinges and white boards or chalkboards on the top. All the art supplies store inside the chest, easily accessible when little artists feel inspired to create landscape and still-life masterpieces.

Under-bed storage organizers Low-profiled and equipped with smooth-turning wheels, heavy duty plastic under-bed storage units work well for blankets, quilts and all the kids’ bedding or seasonal items. Kids instinctively put their stuff under the bed anyway. Now, they have a place for it. If you have not chosen “the big kid bed,” look at pedestal beds with up to eight sturdy drawers built-in, or look at ingeniously designed lofts that link with coordinated dressers or armoires.

Fantastic plastic: Transparent, stackable, movable and customizable Unlike ‘tweens and teens, toddlers and pre-schoolers do not need all their closet space for clothes. Because the little Oshkosh B’gosh outfits are short, lots of space goes to waste. Reclaim that space for stuff. Your favorite big-box retailers offer inexpensive, durable closet organizers designed to fit standard tract-home bedroom closets. In under two hours, you can multiply the kids’ closet space exponentially. If you and the children crave the custom tough that means so much, check Bed, Bath and Beyond or Home Goods for well-designed fashion forward stackable or interlocking storage components.

Over-door hangers Coats, jackets, hoodies, scarves and other outer gear can put protective camouflage over all the stuff on playroom and bedroom floors, and insightful kids complain indignantly, “I can’t reach the hang-it-ups.” Clear the floor and organize the gear with a band of monkeys or a bundle of flowers cleverly sporting coat hooks within kids’ reach. Best of all, you now put that otherwise forgotten space behind the door to productive use.

Built-ins maximize playspace and storage.

Space and style conscious designers sagely observed that tract-home closets and twin beds have almost identical dimensions. Building pedestal beds or lofts into the compact closet space, they increase both floor area and storage capacity. Some of the best designs enclose kids in their own little worlds as they provide up to eight extra storage drawers almost as deep as the closet space. The ultimate designs match built-in wall units with custom bed treatments, adding not only great function but tremendous value to the lucky child’s “personal space.”

Hillary West is a full-time writer in San Francisco where she is a guest writer for www.fittedwardrobes.com, a site she loves to recommend for fitted wardrobes. Click here to search for closet organization options.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want innovative storage solutions.

Image courtesy of colorhome via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.