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Are you overwhelmed with managing all the stuff you use in your home daycare business and need productivity tips? I’ve got three rules when it comes to organizing daycare supplies:
- Less is more.
- You can’t use what you can’t see.
- Do a little every day to stay on top of it.
Using these three rules, this 30-day challenge will help you manage your daycare supplies, get organized, and declutter your daycare home.
First, download and print out the 30-day Challenge Checklist for Organizing Daycare Supplies. Then read through this post.
When you finish each day, color it in with a highlighter. 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.
Follow our Raising Happy Healthy Kids Facebook page and tell us how you’re doing!
How to Declutter Your In-Home Daycare
It feels SO good to have everything decluttered and to be able to see what daycare supplies you have. You can find what you want, and it’s easier to use.
For each day of the 30-day challenge, we will work on filling a container with stuff we don’t need and organizing the things we want to keep. You’ll need a few boxes, several trash bags, and some different sized, clear plastic totes for storage.
Once you have sorted the daycare supplies that you don’t want to keep, put that container in your car and donate it somewhere the next time you leave the house! Allowing things to build up will make the job more overwhelming.
If you don’t want to go through the declutter challenge day by day, try just getting a trash bag each day, 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’re doing it, it’s a good way.
30 Days to Organizing Daycare Supplies
Day 1: Games and Puzzles
Today is the first day of your new, decluttered life. Let’s tackle the games and puzzles. Here are some questions to ask yourself when organizing these daycare toys:
- Are all of the games and puzzles 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 ever asks for or 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.
Think carefully 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 take the puzzles and games you have left, and stack them up neatly so you can get to them easily.
Day 2: Blocks
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, clear, plastic totes to store each kind of block.
Day 3: Play Sets
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 keep these daycare toys organized. Stack them up on a shelf so 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: Manipulatives
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 and toss them in that donation box. Find small clear containers for all the ones that don’t have packaging. You can even use Ziplock bags for this.
Day 5: Cars and Trucks
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 add any that don’t get played with to the donation box. And if that box is full now, go put it in the trunk of the car. You’re doing great!
Day 6: Kitchen
Today, 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.
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: Sleeping Area
We are going to the sleeping area. Do you need to downsize or declutter your sheets, pillows, mats, cots or blankets?
What about the pack-and-plays for babies? Do you have four 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: Changing Area
Let’s organize the daycare changing area today. Combine all the diapers and wipes in the same area. Make sure they are clearly labeled.
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 kids’ 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: Furniture
Sometimes we can accumulate 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, so 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.
Day 10: Dress-up Clothes
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. Then you can rotate them every few months and it will seem like new clothes.
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.
Organizing Home Daycare Art Supplies
Daycare art supplies can get completely out of hand and unorganized. For the next few days of the challenge, we will be focusing on organizing your art supplies for daycare.
Day 11: Paint Supplies
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.
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.
Day 12: Scissors and Glue
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 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: Craft Sets
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 are incomplete. If you don’t want to keep mismatched sets, toss them in the donation box.
Day 14: Paper and drawing supplies
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 sizes 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.
Day 15: Collage Materials
I use a ton of collage materials in my home daycare supplies. I like to have pasta, buttons, beads, feathers, bells, puzzle pieces, just tons of stuff for kids to glue onto paper or art projects.
Again, I store them in clear plastic tubs and stack them so 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: Poster and Calendar Supplies
Let’s go through our bulletin board stuff next – posters, calendar supplies, etc. 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: Books
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 – the ones YOU read. 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.
Now go through your kid books and ask these questions:
- Do any books need repair?
- Do you have adequate storage for all the books?
- Are they the right difficulty for your age group?
If you have some obvious books that you won’t use, put them in the donation box. Then take what you have left and organize it on the shelf.
When you are decluttering, think about this: 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.
Day 18: Teaching Materials
What other teaching materials do you have? Lesson plans? Do you use things for inspiration 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. 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.
If you have more than you could ever use, bless someone else with the extra by putting them in the box.
Day 19: Science Supplies
Today let’s take a look at 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.
Day 20: Playdough and Clay
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!
Decluttering the Home Daycare Office
Day 21: Office Organization
This week we are going to tackle the office. Today’s task is going to be to gather all the papers laying around in piles or drawers and file them.
We can see what we’re doing better if we clear the field.
As you’re sorting to file, throw away anything that is not needed. 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.
Day 22: Tax Receipts
Now that your filing is in order and everything has a place, let’s take today to just log the tax receipts.
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: Paperwork
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!
Day 24: Declutter your Desk
Do you have 100 sticky notes so you can’t even see them anymore? Do you need to dust and declutter the desktop 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: Shredding
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 shredding.
For IRS purposes, I would recommend keeping four years of receipts and taxes, but some people recommend three. 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 even services that come to your home with giant mobile shredders. 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?
Organizing More Daycare Toys and Supplies
Day 26: Toy Food and Dishes
Let’s head back to the play area today and tackle the 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 everything else you have into piles and see what you have.
Are there 20 plates? Put half of what you have in a plastic tote and put it away. Let the kids play with the other half for a few weeks and then swap them out. 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: Dolls and Stuffed Animals
Today is doll and stuffed animal day. Can you find clothes for all the dolls 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. If they need to be washed, 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, and creativity you’ll get out of it. Things are looking far less cluttered around here!
For more tips for daycare providers, click here.
Day 28: Big Toys
We are getting close to our 30 days! Let’s sort the big toys. Push toys, ride-ons, big cars and trucks, magnadoodles, what do you have?
Are 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: Outside Daycare Organization
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: The Rest of the Toys
Today is the last day of our challenge – congratulations! All of the big toys have been organized, but there are probably still some toys you need to organize.
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 them all out!
What do you have in there that everyone loves? Nothing? Donate it all. Are there educational toys 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!
Don’t Wait to Donate
This is the most important part. GO DROP IT OFF! Get those donations or shares for your daycare friends OUT of your house.
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. If you have things you missed, just circle back next week and finish what you have left.
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!
Download the 30-day Challenge for Organizing Daycare Supplies!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of my series on how to run a home daycare and increasing your productivity:
- Handling Home Daycare Paperwork
- How to Run a Daycare at Home Without Losing Your Mind (and Life!)
- In Home Daycare Cleaning: Keeping Up with the Mess!
- Money Saving Tips for Daycare Providers
- Saving Time on Food Prep for Your Child Care Food Program
- Planning Home Daycare Activities
- In-Home Daycare Taxes: How to Stay Organized
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