In 30 days of productivity, you can declutter every area of your daycare. Managing all the stuff can be overwhelming, but breaking it down will help.
30 days of productivity for daycare providers-managing daycare supplies
I have broken the daycare home into decluttering zones and together, we are going to work through our “stuff”. I didn’t put it on a calendar so you’ll be able to work through it any time of year. For right now, we are going to begin decluttering our daycare homes today and work through each zone. Follow our Raising Happy Healthy Kids Facebook page and tell us how you’re doing.
There’s a link at the bottom of the article for your free printable 30 days of productivity for daycare providers sheet.
Productivity Solutions for Daycare Providers Week 8
Taking on a large area at once can be overwhelming but just focus on one area at a time. Print out the challenge, and when you finish each day, color it in with a highlighter. That way if you miss a day or don’t finish one, you can come back around after the first 30 days and complete the rest of the tasks.
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You can either do Monday through Friday and take a break on the weekends, or go 7 days a week. For our 30-day decluttering challenge on Facebook, we are going to do Monday through Friday.
How to declutter
It feels SO good to have everything decluttered and be able to see what you have. You can find what you want easier and it’s easier to use. Kids are the same way, less is more. If you put out every toy in the world, all they do is dump them, but if you have a few items well organized, kids will engage in play and be creative.
Each day we will work on filling a container with stuff we don’t need. You’ll need a few boxes and a box of trash bags. Once you have the daycare supplies that you don’t want sorted out, but that container in your car and donate it somewhere asap the next time you leave the house. Allowing these things to build up will make the job more overwhelming. You will probably also need some different sized clear plastic totes for storage.
If you don’t want to go through the declutter day by day with us, try just getting a trash bag each day and setting a timer for 15 minutes and filling it with things you don’t need. Drop it off at a donation center and live a freer life in your home. There are many ways to declutter. As long as you do it, it’s a good way.
Day 1, Zone 1
Today is the first day of your new, simpler life. Let’s tackle the games and puzzles. Are all of them the appropriate age group for the kids you serve? If you don’t keep school age kids but you used to, you may be able to downsize this area quite a bit.
Are there puzzles or games no one asks for. Is there stuff the kids get bored with too easily? Take those out and set them in a box to donate. Are there games and puzzles with pieces missing? Toss those in the trash or put the puzzle pieces in the art supplies for collage materials.
What about puzzles or games that drive you crazy? You’re not likely to want to get out supplies you hate, and guess what? You don’t have to. There’s nothing wrong with not giving kids stuff that drives you nuts. You’re a person too.
So carefully think about the value of what you have. If you keep 7 kids, you don’t need more than 10 puzzles. If you keep 12, 15 puzzles is plenty. You can do a ton with just 3 or 4 games; you don’t need 30.
Now, You got this! Now take the puzzles and games you have left, and stack them up neatly so you can get to them easily.
How to simplify
Day 2, Zone 2
Take that box with the games and puzzles you’re getting rid of and fill it up with any blocks the kids don’t play with. Gather up the blocks they love (and you love) and put them in containers. If you don’t have the packaging, get a few small plastic totes to store each kind of block in. Make sure when you buy totes that they are clear. You can’t effectively use what you can’t see.
Put the ones no one uses in the donation box.
Day 3, Zone 3
What about your train set, farm set, fire station, doll house or other play sets? Are they all in a jumbled mess? It might take a while to sort all the pieces out, but you’ll be glad you did. Again, if you don’t have original containers, get some clear plastic totes to put them in and stack them up on a shelf.
Then you can get out one at a time for the kids and it won’t be such a big mess all the time.
Day 4, Zone 4
Manipulatives can be great tools, but if they aren’t organized, it’s hard to find them and use them. Declutter them in the same way you did the puzzles and games above and toss them in that box. Find small clear containers for all the ones that don’t have packaging. You can even use Ziplock bags for this.
Put the ones no one uses in the box with the blocks, puzzles and games.
Day 5, Zone 5
Today we’re going to tackle the cars and trucks. Do you have a place where matchbox cars are kept separately? You can work in that area. If you have big push cars and trucks, it’s time to go through those as well. Toss out any broken vehicles and toss in any that don’t get played with for donations.
That box may be full now. If it is, go put it in the trunk of the car. You’re doing great!
In home daycare decluttering
It’s the start of a fresh week, let’s get moving again.
Day 6, Zone 6
We are headed to the kitchen. Sort through all the kiddie silverware and toss out any that’s too chewed up. Check the cups and do the same. Maybe you can order new lids for them? Maybe you need all new cups. Make a list of what you need and rearrange what you’re keeping in an easy to use way. Do you have 100 plastic cups from restaurants that don’t all get used? Pare them down and grab a separate trash bag for donations.
Sort the plates and bowls too. Anything that you have too many of or that are worse for the wear can be thrown away or donated. Keep that trash bag handy for the rest of the week. If it gets full, grab another.
While you’re in the kitchen, check and see if you have too many high chairs or if your eating area can be arranged better. Looking at things with a fresh and minimal eye always helps.
Day 7, Zone 7
We are going to the sleeping area. Do you need to downsize or declutter your sheets, pillows, mats, cots or blankets? What about pack and plays for babies? Do you have 4 but only keep two infants at a time? Set the cots or pack and plays in the car to donate and put the other things in the trash bag to load later. Fold up all the extra sheets and blankets neatly and your cabinet will be usable again. I love getting rid of things, it feels great!
Day 8, Zone 8
It’s the changing area today. Combine all the diapers and wipes in the same area. Make sure they are clearly labeled with names. I have a big drawer in my changing table that they fit great in. I can fit a section for each child. If you don’t, you could get one of those plastic drawer stackers and make more room to store things.
I keep the diapers, wipes, and supplies in the top drawer (minus the things that could be dangerous like diaper cream and changing table cleaner, they are on a shelf up above). I keep the kid’s change of clothes in plastic shoe boxes and the trash bags for the diaper pail in the bottom two drawers. Find a good system that works for you. You could check out these daycare setups for inspiration. When I’m trying to find a better way to store stuff, I love to see how other people do it.
Day 9, Zone 9
Sometimes we can get way too much furniture in the space we have. If you feel crowded, the kids do too. Do you have too many kid tables or dramatic play things in the house? We did and I moved the tool bench outside for the kids to use.
Do you have too many kid chairs? Maybe you can donate a few or give them to a provider friend. Whatever you can do to minimize what’s in your space will make the days go more smoothly and make you feel like everyone has more room.
Getting things done
Day 10, Zone 10
Dress up clothes can get way out of hand. First, you need a good way to store them in your daycare home. Get a dress up center, add a small dresser, put hooks on the wall. Whatever you can do to make the system work, start with that.
Next go through the clothes and see what is never played with. Throw away or repair things that are torn. Think about putting half of the clothes in a clear plastic tote and leaving the other half out to play with. That usually makes everything seem like more fun. Kids don’t need a hundred costumes and if you give them too much at once, they will just make a mess instead of really getting into imaginative play.
Take what you want to give away and add it to the trash bag. This is the end of the week so pack it in the car and drop it off asap when you are out.
Preschool art materials
Day 11, Zone 11
Paint materials can become a real mess. Pare down the bottles by combining ones that are almost empty. You could even mix colors if they would mix well and make new ones. I have liquid watercolors, regular watercolor pots, tempera, paint with water books, spray bottles, daubers, brushes, smocks, tarps, squeeze bottles, eye droppers, coffee filters, paint scrapers and more.
Combining all the small pieces into clear plastic totes and downsizing by throwing out empty bottles can save space. If you have any supplies that you could donate or give to a friend, start a new box for donations. Most likely with this sort of thing you won’t, but maybe you have a big collection of smocks or something you could pare down. Less is more.
Art supplies for daycare
Day 12, Zone 12
Do you have 1400 pairs of scissors but you only use 7? Drop the extras in the donation box. Scissors don’t really spoil or wear out usually so you can stick with one pair per child. Check over the glue and throw out any that are dried out. I keep my glue bottles and glue sticks in my garage art supply area, but I always keep 3 glue sticks in my drawer by the art table and a bottle of glue or two on top.
If you have 10 bottles that are almost empty, combine them and get rid of the clutter. It’s hard to get glue out of an almost empty bottle anyway. You can also buy a gallon of glue and just reuse the same bottles over and over again instead of buying new ones. I like to get my glue for 25 cents when school is starting. I buy enough for the whole year.
Day 13, Zone 13
Do you use craft sets in your daycare? If you do, go through them and see what you have. It’s easy to lose sight of your supplies. Organize one tote with sets of them that you have enough for each child. Then you can have a catch all tote for sets that only have 2 or 4 left and you need 7. Maybe one day you can let the kids pick which one they want.
If you don’t want to keep mismatched sets, toss the others in the donation box.
Art for preschool
Day 14, Zone 14
Art paper and drawing and coloring supplies can really get out of hand. Get a pencil box and dump in all the crayons that are good to use. You can just get that out for kids to color. You can have one for markers, one for colored pencils, etc.
Go through the markers and make sure they still write. Toss out the dried-up ones. You can even send them to Crayola and they recycle them. Make sure your pencils and colored pencils are all sharpened.
Now stack all the paper in clear shelving or paper baskets so you can see the choices. I don’t know about you but I have two size of construction paper, poster board, bulletin board paper, newsprint paper, white copy paper, notebook paper, coffee filters, coloring and painting books, scratch off paper and so much more. I get those baskets for inboxes on a desk and stack em up high and put everything that fits in there so I can see what I have to work with.
In home daycare supplies
Day 15, Zone 15
I use a ton of collage materials. So, I like to have pasta, buttons, beads, feathers, bells, puzzle pieces, just tons of stuff for kids to glue onto paper or art projects. I have a set of clear plastic tubs that stack. They are on a shelf in the garage art materials storage area and I can see everything at a glance.
I can just grab one or 3 and bring them in for a project with the kids. I don’t know if you would want to get rid of this type of thing, but if you do, toss it in the donation box. Make sure it’s all readily available and within reach so you’ll use it though.
Decluttering daycare teaching materials
Day 16, Zone 16
Let’s go through our bulletin board stuff, posters, calendar supplies, etc. today. Do you have more supplies for this than you will ever use? Try to pare it down a little. No one probably needs more than 12 bulletin board sets and 12 posters. Take out the calendar stuff you never use and pass it on to someone who will use it.
Set all the things you aren’t going to use in the donation box and enjoy your day!
Day 17, Zone 17
I don’t know about you but books can really get out of hand at my house. I have a little fetish about buying too many. Let’s start with the grown-up books. Do you have enough shelving to store all of your books? If not, it’s time to pare them down. Put the ones you won’t read again in the donation box to share and organize the rest in the space you have.
Check through your kid books. Do some need repair? Do you have adequate storage for all the ones you have? Are they the right difficulty for your age group? If you have some obvious ones you won’t use, put them in the donation box. Then take what you have left and organize it on the shelf. Think about when you are decluttering, wouldn’t someone who didn’t have books really enjoy these books?
If you have so much clutter that you can’t see what you even have, that stuff is not bringing you joy, it’s weighing you down. Letting go of things you don’t love brings you lots of room for more joy in your life. It’s such a freeing feeling to purge extra things.
Clutter in home daycare
Day 18, Zone 18
What other teaching materials do you have? Lesson plans? Do you use things for inspiration for that such as magazines or idea books? If you haven’t decluttered that stuff, today’s the day. Make sure your lesson plans are accessible. I keep the main sheets on my bulletin board so it’s easy to look up and see what I had planned for the day the night before when I’m getting out supplies.
Do you have stickers or other prizes that you use? All of those things should be at your fingertips. If you have more than you could ever use, bless someone else with the extra by putting them in the box. I like to keep all of my cut outs, stickers, stencils and things like that in a small plastic tote together so it’s all accessible in one swoop.
Day 19, Zone 19
Today let’s take a look in the science stuff. Do you have a ton of things you never use? Is your science area stored in a way you can find supplies easily to use with the kids? Science is my favorite. I can get a ton of stuff and not have it organized, so every now and then I have to go through it and put things in their place and make it accessible.
If you don’t have a good science storage system, think about some clear plastic totes that will help you grab what you need in a snap. Toss anything you don’t use in the donation box for this week.
Playdough and clay
Day 20, Zone 20
Today is playdough and clay declutter time. Playdough, clay, model magic, wikki sticks, any of the stuff you use to mold and create.
I could never have enough playdough; HOWEVER, I do get too many shaping and molding toys. Now is a good time to comb through what you have and get it in order. Toss out anything that’s broken or any dried-up cans of dough or clay. Also, organize your playdough and clay tools.
Now take your donation box and put it in the car so you can drop it off as soon as possible. You’re kicking butt! Leave a comment and tell us what all you’ve accomplished so far.
Decluttering the office
Day 21, Zone 21
This week we are going to tackle the office. Get a trash bag and a box handy. Today’s task is going to be to gather all the papers laying around and, in the piles, or drawers waiting to be filed and file them. We can see what we’re doing better if we clear the field.
As you’re sorting to file, throw anything that is not needed in the trash bag. If it has important info on it and needs to be shredded, toss it in the box, we’ll get to that later in the week. Remember not to throw out things with your address or social security number or any other identifying information.
You can do this, let’s go!
Day 22, Zone 22
Now that your filing is in order and everything has a place, let’s take to day to just log the tax receipts. It’s early in the year, so we can get a jump in staying organized throughout the year.
If you haven’t logged receipts for last year yet, make a plan to work on that so you’ll be ready for your taxes. There’s no shame, just jump in where you are! Now go get em tiger!
Day 23, Zone 23
Today we’re going to get all of our daycare paperwork organized. Let’s start with enrollment paperwork. Is that filed in files or in a notebook? If not, go ahead and get your kid’s stuff in order. If you still need to have parents fill it out, get things out to do that.
Now, let’s make sure all of our other DHS paperwork is in order. Is your license on display? Is your menu? What do you need to have displayed? Do that. Make sure your training certificates and pet records are at your fingertips for a licensing visit.
Now that all of that is in order, let’s check on paperwork that needs to be filled out. Are your sign in sheets up to date? What about your food paperwork? Whatever forms or sheets you’re behind on, it’s going to feel GREAT to have them all caught up. Let’s GO!
Clean up your desk
Day 24, Zone 24
Okay, now that your life is in order more, today we’re going to clean up the desk. Do you have 100 sticky notes so you can’t even see them anymore? Do you need to dust and declutter the desk top so you have more room to work?
Look around and see what you can do to make your desk more functional. Need to buy ink for the printer? Need to make a planning sheet? Whatever it is, give yourself the gift today of a well-functioning desk. You deserve it!
Day 25, Zone 25
Now grab that box of shredding that needs to be done and let’s look at your old records. If you’re like me, you have 20 years’ worth of papers that need shredded. For irs purposes, I would recommend keeping 4 years of receipts and taxes, but some people recommend 3. Decide what advice you want to follow and let’s get to shredding.
If you have a ton and it’s overwhelming, maybe you could make a burn pile if you live in the country and it’s not dry. There are also places you can have papers shredded. Or you can set up a shredding station in a back room and set your timer for 15 minutes twice a day to work on it.
I dread it because it’s boring, but we got this! Let’s get those old papers shredded up!
Bag up all those shreds and take them to the recycle, compost them, or throw them out. Bye old baggage! Do you feel the freedom?
Day 26, Zone 26
Now let’s head back to the play area today. Toy food and dishes. Do you need 1,000 pieces of this stuff or is a couple dozen items more than plenty? Sort out the broken and chewed on pieces and throw them away. Next, sort out everything else you have and see what there is.
Are there 20 plates? Grab a plastic tote and try putting half of what you have out in that tote and putting it away. Let the kids play with the other half for a few weeks and then dump the tote out for them and put the ones they’ve been playing with away. You’ll be amazed at the interest after a toy is gone for a while.
If you have so many dishes and food toys you could never use them all, grab a trash bag and let’s start filling it up for donations. Someone else could be enjoying that.
Day 27, Zone 27
Today is doll and stuffed animal day. Can you find clothes for all the babies you have? Dress them and see how many you are leaving out. If you could pare them down, toss the less favorite ones in the bag for donations.
Now onto stuffed animals. There are only so many you need. So, sort them out. If they need to be washed an extra time, toss them in the washer. If you have too many, put some in the donation bag. You know the drill. The less you have the more peace, use, creativity you’ll get out of it. Things are looking far less cluttered around here!
For more tips for daycare providers, click here.
Toy clutter in daycare
Day 28, Zone 28
We are getting close to our 30 days! Today we are going to sort the big toys. Push toys, ride ons, big cars and trucks, magnadoodles, what do you have? Is there some that no one plays with? Try putting them outside. Sometimes a different area will make all the difference.
Anything that is unloved can go in the trunk of the car for donation day in a few days. You are doing great!
Day 29, Zone 29
Today we are headed outside. Pick up all the broken stuff and bring it to the trash. The kids can be helping with sorting toys and picking up, have them grab all the broken-up stuff and bring it to you or have the trash ready for them.
Is there stuff no one uses that’s still in good shape? Consider doing a toy trade with another provider if your kids are bored with what you have. Or donate and buy something different at the second hand store. A stick and a rock are great toys for kids, so don’t think you need 500 plastic toys outside. You don’t.
Day 30, Zone 30
Now, today is the last day. All of the big toys have been organized, but there are still those toy baskets. We have a box of instruments for music time. We also have a basket of small toys in the living room. Everything in the play room has been sorted, but these toys are the hodge podge. Dump that on out. What do you have in there that everyone loves? Nothing? Donate it all. Are there educational toys in there that kids can learn from? Are there kid favorites? Put those back in for the kids to enjoy.
I challenge you to cut this catch all basket down by half. There will be a ton less mess to clean up each day and there will be less fighting and ruckus. Kids will engage with the toys that are left in a more meaningful way. I always thought this sounded crazy, but when I tried it. It actually worked!
Now, I’m super proud of you for whatever you got done. If you have things you missed, just circle back next week and finish what you have left.
Don’t wait to donate
The most important part. GO DROP IT OFF! Get those donations or shares for your daycare friends OUT of your house. Make sure you do this part, it’s the most important. Carrying those containers of donations around for the next 3 months is just another noose around your neck. Free yourself and give them with love to someone else!
I’m super proud of you and all you have accomplished in these 30 fling sessions. I love how my house feels after I declutter. It’s the most freeing thing! Enjoy your new extra space and try to follow this rule: If I bring something new home, I have to get rid of 2 things I don’t use. Then you’ll never get overwhelmed with clutter again.
Living with more purpose and less chaos is a process and it takes time. It’s not about perfection. Better is good, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Give yourself permission to do part of the plan. Give yourself affirmation for what you did do! You rock!
Check out the other 7 weeks of our 8 weeks of production solutions for daycare providers. This is going to be your best year ever! Preparing for taxes, how to get it all done, handling paperwork, keeping up with the mess, food prep, planning activities, and decluttering your finances.
30 days of productivity for daycare providers FREE PRINTABLE HERE
Click on the highlighted text below to get your printable pdf I can’t wait to see how awesome you kick this challenge!
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