When our triplets were born, we quickly assigned each of them a color to keep everything straight. Bottles, blankets, pacifiers, car seats, coats, shoes, sippies, anything we could. It made life easier for me to identify what belonged to which baby. It also helped the kids identify what belonged to them and feel a sense of ownership and individuality. As we had three more kids, they were also assigned a color, and it’s been such a lifesaver!
We still use this system because it works great for us! I love that it’s so easy to keep up with who left their stuff out. Along the same lines of what I shared in the zone cleaning post, I can tell who left their backpack or shoes out. I buy my kids terry bathrobes in their colors instead of bath towels (which also saves on the amount of towels we own), so I know who left their robe on the floor. I buy them at Costco, and this is when they usually show up in stores in a variety of colors! I like to get them for swimming as well, because it’s so much easier for a little one to wear a robe while walking to the car than keep a towel wrapped around themselves. When I get new robes for the shower, the old robe becomes the swim robe.
The above bins hold their ski gear. I can easily look in each one and see if anyone is missing something instead of trying to remember who currently wears what size. When it’s time to get ready, they can each go get their bin and get dressed. We don’t have to re-sort every time. I bought these at Land of Nod, but for some reason they don’t have purple! Amazon sells the same product in slightly different sizes, so I got the purple one there. It’s a tad smaller, though. I bought the larger turquoise one for my husband and I to share, and it’s on the top shelf in the closet.
When skiing I can tell who I’m missing or looking at by their coats and balaclavas, and same thing when we are swimming and I’m counting kids in the water. I look for what color rash guard is missing.
Now that they are getting older, instead of bottles and sippies we have water bottles, hydration packs (for hiking), sleeping bags, bedding, hair accessories, hair brushes, backpacks, bikes, blankets, robes, cups, coats, balaclavas, ski goggles, gloves, base layer, swim goggles, swimsuits, rash guards, pillow cases, and more.
When we travel without the kids, we bring home t-shirts, sweatshirts or jackets in their colors. When I find something in their special colors, the kids love it. It makes them feel loved, even now that three of them are tweens. I confess it can be a pain at times, but usually I can find what I want. The colors we use are pink, blue, green, orange, purple and yellow. My color is turquoise, and dad doesn’t really care, so he’ll take whatever works out. I do have alternates. If I can’t find pink, orange, or green, that person will get red, which is usually easy to find.
It drove me crazy the amount of cups that were dirtied in a day. When they were all the same color, it was impossible to tell which cup belonged to whom, so they’d get a new one out. One day at Costco I saw a set of 8 acrylic tumblers that came in everyone’s colors! I bought 4 sets and put 3 in storage. Now there are only 8 cups out at a time (still a lot! But that’s just 1 per person in our family), and there is a whole lot fewer cups in the dishwasher an less (accidental) germ sharing.
This system saves so much fighting. Everyone knows what is theirs. I know what is theirs. No guessing or racking my brain to remember what I bought for which kid. We’ve never told any of them that they have an assigned color, they just pick up on it at an early age and accept it.
This system is easy to adopt when kids are young. If you want to try it with older kids, just use their favorite colors. You don’t have to make a big announcement or anything. Just start buying their new things in their favorite colors. “I got you a red water bottle because I know it’s your favorite color.” Even a cynical teenager will (secretly) feel extra loved that you made the effort.