One extravagant feature. A kids’ room should have one feature that is over the top fun. Think, climbing wall, hammock, loft, slidey pole, reading canopy, pile of bean bags. One thing that makes it abundantly clear that fun is to be had in this room.

Use what you have. “Kid themed” rooms are obnoxious, so don’t go out and buy Spidey bedding or Frozen wall decals. You’ll never keep up with your kids’ interests. They’ll be over the theme before you can finish stenciling it on the wall. Instead, use what you have. Stuff you are going to save anyway– old toys, books, blankets, clothes, relics from your life and theirs. This lends the kids’ room a retro, sentimental sense of heritage. It also is less frustrating when they want a change, because you didn’t buy anything.

Stuff boxes. If your people are like mine, they collect crap like it will save them in the apocalypse.  You have to inflict boundaries upon them, or they will literally create some sort of Shel Silverstein-esque swaying tower of useless possessions.  Sticky notes, unsharpened pencils, happy meal toys, rocks, feathers, beads, dentist toys, craft projects, etc. etc. etc. Gross. I bought my kids each a 12 X 12 inch storage box, and they can only keep what fits in the box. If it starts to overflow, they have to cull out what they no longer want. This includes toys!  Behold, the glory of the Stuff Box!

Less is more. Kids play better with what they have if they have less of it. Set boundaries with yourself and anyone else in a position to buy your child stuff. Invest sparingly, and invest in quality. You don’t have space or emotional energy to take on a vast quantity of cheap, obnoxious toys.

Do away with the top sheet. I use just a fitted sheet and a very washable blanket for my kids’ beds. The top sheet invariably became a twisted knot at the foot of the bed, so I gave it the boot. Laundry and maintenance are way easier. The kids can easily make it on their own– and when that doesn’t happen, which is every single day, the bed looks a little less disheveled.

Flat book storage.  Invest in, or contrive a flat storage system for your kids books. If your kids are going to be cleaning their own rooms, and I hope they are, this will save your sanity and your books. Little people are completely incapable of doing anything other than cramming. Embrace the cramming.

Each person is entitled to their own reading light. This is true, no matter your age. Everyone should have their own little pool of bedtime light. And if your kids learn that they can stay up a little later if they’re reading in bed, they will learn to love to read. So, not only is this a super appealing ambiance touch, it fosters good didactic habits. Two birds.

Don’t fold kids’ clothes. This may sound like heresy to some. To others, it will be incredibly validating. But, seriously, there is no point in folding kids clothes. The minute you send them to dress themselves, all your folding will be undone in a tornado of flailing hands. You don’t have that kind of time to waste. Assign each kid a drawer, and just drop the goods in there.

Keep laundry bin in the open. If you keep the laundry basket in the closet, your children literally will forget the at such a thing as a laundry basket exists. Invest in a prettier laundry receptacle, and keep it out where it can be seen. This ensure that you will be even more flummoxed when they forget– every damn day– that such a thing as a laundry basket exists.

Garbage. Just garbage. Kids generate a ton of trash in their rooms–particularly in the form of mysteriously procured candy wrappers. Keep a garbage can in their room. They will not use it, but it makes clean up easier for you when you’re ranting and cleaning simultaneously.

Light blocking window treatments. Prolong the amount of sleep you can squeeze out of your darlings with good window coverage. They sleep deeper in the dark. Shades are the best, and they aren’t expensive.