Apartment living can present unique challenges when you have kids. Limited space, noise concerns, and a lack of outdoor play areas are just some obstacles parents may face. However, with some creativity and thoughtful planning, it is possible to make a small apartment living with kids a fun and rewarding experience. 

In this article, we will share some tips and tricks for making the most of your apartment space, keeping your kids entertained, and creating a comfortable and safe environment for your family. So whether you need tips for your apartment in Springfield, MA, or your  rental in Phoenix, AZ, read on to navigate the world of apartment living with kids.

1. Rotate children toys to cut down clutter

“Kids accumulate so much stuff, and before you know it, your living area is overrun with toys that almost seem to multiply on their own,” says Katie Lear, LCMHC, RPT, RDT. “Research has shown that having a ton of toys can get in the way of kids’ play: it can be overwhelming and prevent children from engaging in deep play that promotes learning and growth. Consider keeping a limited number of toys on display and putting the rest away in longer-term storage out of sight. You can rotate toys every few weeks to pique your child’s interest. This cuts down on toy clutter, and you may notice your child enjoying more focused, creative play.”

2. Consider creating a family closet

Molly from Digital Mom Blog shares the secret to living that small apartment life with kids. “The secret for us was finding the right storage hacks to make things function best for our family of six. An apartment storage hack to consider is creating a family closet. Consolidating all clothes into the largest closet was tricky, but using dressers and bins can be a great option. Creating a family closet not only simplifies laundry tasks but also opens up other closets for things such as toy storage, and potentially even a small play area or workspace.”

Baby boy play with mother in a small apartment

3. Find your go-to items and stick with them

“As a single mom, affording larger spaces can be challenging. To make apartment living with a kid easier, here are two go-to items you must have: cube storage bins and large three-drawer rolling carts,” says Chyna Nicole, a blogger, and speaker for single moms from Made New Mama. “From clothes storage to toy management, using these storage options to organize and place items out of sight brings peace of mind, even when you don’t always have the energy or time to clean.”

4. Invest in space-saving opportunities 

Taryn Smith of Children of Tomorrow Learning Centers shares, “Space savers or creators might include wall storage opportunities, loft bedding, and utilizing open space that you already have but might not naturally think of. Using hanging wall storage for books or small toys can reduce floor clutter and offer cute displays of your child’s playthings. Older children can create more space and storage by having loft beds. This creates an open floor space that a bed would typically take up. Using an open wall area, spaces under where beds may lay, and finding those hidden open spaces in your apartment gives unique storage opportunities to live with less clutter and more space.” 

Little boy helping mom with chores

5. Break down cleaning step by step

For everyday tasks like cleaning, Katie Malinksi from Parenthood Understand suggests, “Help your child manage the task of “cleaning their room” by breaking up the job into small steps. For example, you might ask your 5-year-old to pick up five items off the floor and put them back in the toy box.”

6. Everyone should participate in chores

Truth Love Parent shares, “Small spaces are wonderful for creating intimacy and shared experiences. One of the best ways to share small spaces with children and grow as a family at the same time is for everyone to participate in household chores. Taking time to help out in age-appropriate ways teaches responsibility, encourages everyone in the home to happily work for the benefit of the rest of the family, and results in a cleaner, less cluttered, and healthier home.”

“Having kids help in the kitchen is important for them and to share family responsibility – but it isn’t always easy in small spaces,” says Kids Cook Real Food, an online cooking class for kids. “Fix the elbow room problem by setting kids up at the table instead of the counter. It’s a better height for them anyway, and everyone will enjoy their time together more if it’s less stressful.”

7. Use plastic door shoe racks for toy organization

Parenting From The Heart shares quick fixes for optimal organization. “Use a clear plastic over-the-door shoe rack for your child’s toy storage. This helps to get baskets and boxes off the floor and creates more floor space for playtime. Your child can see where each toy is located, and they can organize their toys in sections. This idea makes an unused closet door space usable. If your closet door is not an option, hang the shoe rack on your child’s wall.”

8. Use the O.H.I.O method

“When I work with clients who find clutter to be a major anxiety for them, I always recommend O.H.I.O – Only handle it once,” says Coach Monique. “When new tasks arise, we often put them off until tomorrow and sometimes repeatedly go back to the same tasks without completing them. You will save time and energy and reduce clutter in your home by only handling tasks when you have the time to finish them.”

9. Turn organization into a game

Kamini Wood, certified Life Coach, adds, “Gamify picking up and organizing their toys. One way is to have them organize their toys differently each month, and someone must guess the pattern. The key is to bring joy and fun into the space.”

10. Hide bigger toys in plain sight

“When it comes to living in an apartment with kids, try thinking outside the box literally,” says PEL Learning Center. Instead of hiding toys away, embrace the playtime by storing bigger toys in plain sight. Makeover your toy kitchen to match the aesthetic of your living room, add bookshelves to the wall, and think of ways to put “fun” on display.”

Small Apartment Living

11. Have a container dedicated to your child’s special items

Coach Crystal says, “We all know that the most helpful tip is to decrease the amount of stuff we have and for all that stuff to have a home. We can also do this with our kiddos, teaching them responsibility in the process. Get one small box that will fit under your kid’s bed, and let that be their special box. They can fill it with whatever they want, but that’s all the space they get – so when they want to add more, they’ll get to decide what to take away.”

12. Turn your closet into a work or play space

“One of my favorite space-saving ideas is to convert a closet into an at-home homework or craft space,” says Homeschool Super Freak. Even the tiniest closet can fit a desk workspace (try a flip-down wall desk), a stool that pushes under the desk, and shelving above to help organize and hold books and craft supplies. Close the space with the closet door or a curtain when not in use to cut down on the clutter in your main living space.”

13. Multifunctional furniture is a must for small apartment living

New Mommy Media suggests making each piece of furniture multifunctional. “Your child’s bed is not only a bed but also flips up so you can store their toys underneath. The nightstand has a piece that extends out to make it a table or desk. Be creative.”

“To make the most out of apartment living with kids, you must use these mom hacks of clever storage solutions to maximize your space,” says Mom Hacks 101. “Choose furniture pieces that provide hidden storage, like storage ottomans to hide toys. Also, use unused storage spaces such as behind doors, under beds, and behind sofas.”

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