Parenting, as we all know, means chaos. As moms, plenty of us are pretty damn convinced we have zero time for things like cute and practical DIYs to organize our family’s lives — we barely have enough time to shower, after all. But I’ll be the first to say: These easy-AF DIYs below will actually save time in the long run. Yes, even for us beyond-busy moms. Make these, organize your kids’ crap, and then get to say, “I made that.” (Not that you’re about bragging, but you know what they say: A little humblebrag is good for the soul. Or maybe only we say that. Who knows?)
From family routine organizers to make bedtime a breeze to kids art cubbies that will keep you from suffocating under a mountain of watercolor paintings to a gorgeous high chair splat mat that makes meal cleanup with a baby (dare we say it?) pain-free — we’ve rounded up nine sneakily practical kids DIYs that will make your life easier. And as parents, don’t we all deserve that?
IKEA hack spice rack shelving
This amazingly easy IKEA hack uses the Swedish brand’s spice racks as wall-mounted shelves for kids books. Too cute, right? Head to The Sweetest Digs for the full instructions.
Bedroom routine organizer
Bedtimes are insanity, and everything is chaotic enough without the missing toothpaste, someone using someone else’s toothbrush and the toddler who magically managed to find every toothbrush in the house minutes before bedtime — and dump them all in the toilet. This family bedtime routine organizer from A Beautiful Mess combines some cheap Ikea items plus some crafting to create an organized spot where everyone has their own space for their face wash, toothbrush and whatever else they need for their bedtime routine, all out of the toddler’s reach. You could go one step further and personalize these with your children’s names on their respective tubs or a sweet goodnight quote, like “I love you; go the F to sleep.” Something like that. Just an idea.
No-sew rope basket
For those of you who think you have zero crafting skills and haven’t used glue since you were eating it in preschool, fret not. This DIY no-sew rope basket gets maximum wow factor with minimal effort. There is no family on Earth who couldn’t use some extra storage, and this basket won’t be an eyesore. Save your future self the annoyance of having to walk around a room strewn with toys like it’s a minefield. Instead, make sure there are a couple of these baskets around to contain the mess. Check out the step-by-step tutorial at Alice & Lois.
Parents often struggle with wanting to save their precious child’s artwork and not wanting to be found trapped under an avalanche of crayon scribbles and macaroni necklaces like a hoarder. There seems to be no attractive way to organize and display kids art — oh, but wait. Yes there is. These kids art cubbies from Oh Joy! are the answer. This quick DIY with file boxes, contact paper and a few other items (plus tips on organizing the art) make this DIY a major win.
You and your kids are always on the go, and it’s hard to keep them entertained when you’re out and about without having a bag for each kid and crayons rolling around the floor of your car. This DIY rollup organizer (which you can make in five minutes!) is just the thing to keep their art supplies all together with no one fighting over whose red pencil that is. Head over to Paper & Stitch for the how-to.
Toddler activity center
This one is a little time-consuming, but the payoff is enormous. This DIY toddler activity center from the gals at A Beautiful Mess is a) totally gorgeous, b) provides endless screen-free entertainment for your toddler, c) isn’t yet another hunk of obscenely bright-colored plastic sitting in the middle of your living room your kid will lose interest in in a week and d) all of the above. By DIY’ing instead of buying an activity center, you can customize it to your toddler’s interests and skills. And it’s way, way easier than you think (we see you making that deer-in-headlights-there’s-no-way-I-can-make-that face). It can be as easy or complicated as you want, and the step-by-step tutorial with pictures at A Beautiful Mess makes replicating this one a breeze.
Hanging paper roll
We’ve all been there; you set up your kid with an activity and are just about to start cooking dinner/doing laundry/drinking wine when they holler, “Ma! I need more paper!” This DIY hanging paper roll solves that problem. They can get the paper themselves with a tug on the roll, giving you a much-deserved break. With a roll of paper, a dowel, some leather, a knob and some tools, this DIY will encourage your kids’ independence and give you some free seconds to do something important. You know, like pee in peace. The Merrythought has the complete tutorial.
Kids book bin
The sweetest DIY kids book bin from This Little Street is not only adorable but also incredibly functional — and keeps stacks of books off the floor. The bin design allows your child to look through the books and choose a book by its cover (as opposed to keeping books on a shelf and only seeing their spines). You can decorate the interior of the bins with whatever wallpaper you want — or even use removable wallpaper if you want to switch it up every once in a while. Head over to This Little Street for the full how-to.
High chair splat mat
For some reason, babies and toddlers seem to get as much food on the floor surrounding them as they get into their mouths. Instead of having to do a serious cleanup job after each meal, this DIY confetti star high chair splat mat cuts way down on the cleanup time and completely cuts out any mopping. With some clear vinyl, sequins and glue, this mat comes together quickly and will save you from chipping dried food off your floor for weeks to come. Put the splat mat down under your kid’s chair or high chair, and when the meal is over and they’ve decided spaghetti on their head isn’t actually a good look for them, simply wipe down the mat, and there you go. This splat mat is pretty enough to leave out all the time, but is also portable; just roll it up and go. Check out A Beautiful Mess for the complete instructions.
A version of this story was originally published in January 2019.