How to organize your pantry to be kid-safe?
It’s the middle of summer. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that meant your kids were out of school but at camp or other activities. Now that our lives have changed in ways we never could have foreseen, your kids might be stuck at home, doing schoolwork online, or already returning to in-person school to make up for time lost. You may even be dealing with multiple scenarios.
On top of all the chaos, you might be working from home as well.
Whatever your situation, when you’re a busy mom you probably struggle with how to stay organized and sane while juggling work, meals, and keeping your children safe and out of your hair. That means ensuring your kids are both occupied and well-fed. But there’s no need to struggle. The following tips will help you organize your pantry so your kids can safely help themselves with healthy food while keeping them away from the things you don’t want them to access without your supervision.
Keep treats and sweets on higher shelves
One of the things you can do to make your life as a parentless stressful while keeping your kids safe is to move treats, sweets and less-than-healthy snacks to the highest shelves in your pantry or kitchen. Additionally, consider storing them in solid containers and boxes with child-proof tops or lids. That way temptation is kept hidden and out of reach.
Remember, the old saying, “out of sight; out of mind?” If your children can’t see the candy, they might go for healthy snacks they can access. Furthermore, they won’t be hurting themselves attempting to sneak foods that will spoil their appetite or that you’re saving for surprises and special occasions.
You might also consider storing messy ingredients such as flour, sugar, and other baking supplies on higher shelves. These items spill easily, so while your older kids can be trusted to access them unsupervised, little ones don’t need to reach them without your help.
Store anytime snacks at child-height
You want your children to learn to choose healthy snacks and to foster their independence. Consider creating a pantry shelf that’s just for them, full of snack ingredients and items that they can grab and eat whenever they want, without asking you for help or permission.
Additionally, consider creating a mini-work area in a corner of your pantry where your child can prepare simple snacks, pour their own cereal, prepare fruits and vegetables with child-safe cutlery, and even roll out cookie dough to help with baking. Invest in kid-friendly storage products that will draw attention away from their favorite treats and sweets higher up that you don’t want them to be tempted to up climb shelves to reach.
Use kid-friendly labels
Besides keeping you organized, labels on pantry shelves, containers, drawers, and bins help new readers improve their skills and teach healthy eating habits. You can even make a fun art project out of label making by involving your kids. Encourage creativity by using whiteboard stickers, erasable pens, or chalkboard materials like these to update daily food schedules and other item labels. Consider color-coding labels or bins to help very young children and to keep everything neat and organized.
Involving your children in the setup and organization of your pantry, especially any shelves that you designate as theirs, will help reduce complaining when you task them with putting groceries away or routine kitchen tidying chores.
Display essential info
In addition to labels, don’t forget to display a list of essential information for grandparents and babysitters. Include emergency contact information such as pediatrician phone numbers, you and your spouse’s or partner’s work contact details, and your mobile phone number.
Also include any information on food allergies and other special needs, as well as for instructions for how to handle any adverse reactions. You could also add instructions for when to call 911, police, or the fire department in case something happens to you, or your children can’t find an adult and need to get help.
Keep school lunch items on the same shelf
Now back to the lower shelves. Whether you or your kids pack school lunches, consider keeping all pantry-stored lunch items together on the same shelf, within easy reach of your kids. Even younger children can help choose what goes into their lunchbox. The only choices they don’t need to have access to are any treats you want to add as a reward for helping or a special surprise to brighten their first day of school after the summer or a holiday break.
Use these tips to foster independence and keep your children safe
At the end of the day, by organizing your pantry and creating space inside it for your children to grab and make their own snacks, you’re helping to teach them skills such as independence, self-reliance, and how to make healthy food choices.
So, what do you think? Let us know what you’ve been doing to organize your pantry or kitchen to make it kid-friendly by leaving a comment below.
Ray Ko has been creating effective visual merchandising and interior design strategies for retailers for more than 20 years. Today, he is the senior e-commerce manager for shopPOPdisplays, a leading designer and manufacturer of the stock and custom acrylic products.