Large families are defined as a family that has three kids or more. This could include parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Early on in my organizing career, I worked with several of these large families. They were in larger homes and had lots of stuff for each member of the family. These things were not excessive items, they were items that each member of the family needed, but because the family was so large the items multiplied quickly.
The areas that I focused on with these families were the shared spaces. The garage, where everything was stored. The kitchen, where everyone ate and gathered. The drop zone area in a space near the kitchen, where everyone would leave their stuff when they entered the home. The basement, where the children hung out and played. The bedrooms, where the kids usually lived together. These five areas were essential for them to get organized so everyone knew where their things were in the home. To break these areas down, I am going to share various tips for these areas. Throughout this post, I will share links of posts I wrote in the past so you can get even more information.
Organizing a Large Family Garage
Create an area for sports equipment. I had several clients that had kids that loved their sports. Each season, they did a different sport. And, with more sports, they had more equipment that needed to be stored. So, we erected several tall garage shelving that was about 24 inches deep to hold bins for each kid. They were all labeled and were easy to see. We assigned a color to each child so they knew which one was theirs. This post talks about Organizing Small Sports Equipment for Kids.
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Some items will need to be on the floor. We also created an area for bikes and other larger toys. Some were mounted on walls and others needed to be on the floor because they were too heavy. Below are some examples I found on Amazon.com (affiliate).
Use part of the garage for permanent storage when lacking storage in the house. If part of the garage is not used for a vehicle, we turned the garage into a well-organized storage area complete with heavy-duty shelving aligned into a U shape. This allowed access from the front of the garage but kept the items contained and not accidently hit the vehicles also stored in the space.
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Kitchen Organizing for a Large Family
Have kids snacks and lunch bags in their own area. For younger kids, you can use the lower cabinets and store items in bins. Color coding each bin for each child, if some children can't eat what others are eating. A pantry can also be used to organize these items.
Creating a centrally located place for the command center. This area should be complete with a monthly calendar so that the kids and other family members know where to write their activities. If you don't want it out, placing it behind an upper cabinet door or inside a drawer works. Large desk calendars work great because there is a lot of space for each day. Again, color coding each person works great. Make sure everyone knows their color. Using a label maker, you can label the name of each person on the marker so they never forget.
Assign a place for meal planning. For a large family, keeping meal planning consistent each week is key. If you have particular meals you cook each week, write up a schedule and share it with the family. This not only informs them of what dinner will be, but it will also save you money because you will be buying the same thing each week. Visit our quick and easy recipes here.
Organizing a Drop Zone Area for a Lot of Kids
The Drop Zone area needs to be located wherever the children enter the house first. As close as possible to the door they enter is the best area. This area stores their school bags, jackets, and shoes. It can even be an area that holds the papers that need to go back to school.
The farther they have to walk, the most likely they will be leaving items in various places before they get to the drop zone. Visit these posts here for more tips:
Organizing a Playroom Area for a Large Family
Have a space for the kids, even if it is part of the garage or basement. Kids have lots of stuff and if you have a large family, the kids may get even more stuff from them too. It can quickly get cluttered if not contained in one area. Remember kids are not complex human beings. The room doesn't need to look magazine ready picture-perfect, it just needs to be functional and safe. Read our SUPER EASY PLAYROOM ORGANIZING TIPS for more ideas.
Provide them with an entertainment area complete with a TV, chairs, and a sofa for the kids to play video games or watch YouTube. Kids are so into YouTube these days.
If your kids are into Crafts, provide them with a table and chairs and a place to display their artwork. For different age kids, place the messier products farther up on the shelves so the larger kids can get them and the smaller ones won't reach them easily. Visit our post about HOW TO MAKE A FUN KIDS CRAFT ROOM.
Many of the kids I worked with loved their Legos and make-believe area and keep them pretty organized. Tabletops with Lego boards attached to them, allowed the kids to stand while creating their masterpieces. The kitchen set or dress-up area is also handy for kids who love to create on their own through play.
Shared Kids Room Organizing Tips
When sharing a bedroom, you can color-code each person's stuff. Then buy things that will match each person's color. Common colors are red yellow green blue.
Storing in those areas that are hidden will keep your kids' space organized. Under the bed, behind doors, and on the top shelves in closets are spaces you can find those hidden areas. Visit our How to Find Wasted Storage Spaces in Your Home post.
If your kids share a closet, try dividing the closet with a temporary wall wood divider mounted to the wall protruding out from the back of the closet. L brackets affixed to the wall on both sides in various places on the temporary wall will keep it in place. Visit the wall divider that I created with Fabric for some inspiration: HOW TO CREATE A DIY FABRIC ROOM DIVIDER Get more tips here on streamlining your kids closet of stuff: 15 UNIQUE THINGS TO TOSS FOR A STRESS-FREE KIDS CLOSET
Sharing a bathroom can be tricky, give each person a basket or drawer to hold their stuff. Toothbrushes can also be color-coded, as well as color-coding towels, hand towels, and washcloths. If the kids have robes, hanging their own robe on an assigned hook is helpful too.
I hope this helps you stay organized in a large family home. Remember, taking action by creating a space for each family member shows them that they belong and are not an afterthought. Don't we all want to feel that way in our homes? Enjoy creating a well-organized large family home!
Below are some posts I found online that give tips on large family home organizing.
Large Family Tips: How To Keep Everything Organized
Large Family Organization Tips
Managing a Large Family - Large Family Organization Tips
The great thing about your tips is that so many of these things that help keep the chaos at bay in a large family will still translate usefully for smaller families, as well, like the command center. Super tips!
These are all fabulous tips! I agree that having common areas like the garage, kitchen drop zone, and an organized play area make a big difference for large families. I like your advice about dividing up shared closets and using part of the garage for extra storage.
These are excellent tips for organizing larger families. But the significant part about the tips is that they are transferrable to smaller families too. No matter what size your family or home is, the idea that less is easier to maintain and manage than more is true. Creating zones, doing periodic edits, and having systems for things help to keep things flowing and organized.
I found an organized drop-zone essential to keeping a house organized. When there are a lot of people coming in and out all the time being able to find what you need as you are leaving the house helps alleviate stress for everyone.
I've noticed that many families in my area have 3 or 4 children. I only had two and felt like I had a smaller family than most. Using spaces wisely is so important when "crowds" are sharing them. Love your thoughts on the kitchen. Many families do well with your idea of setting up drawers and food storage that the children can reach and access. The more the various family members can contribute to putting things away, the better!
It's funny how things have changed. There were three kids in my family growing up, but at that time we weren't considered a large family. Now it's rare for people to have more than two!