"Our family is mostly kids―they outnumber us," says Lauri. This means rules and systems have to be intuitive and simple enough for the occasionally unruly three-fifths majority to understand and stick with. And they have to be flexible enough not to become a source of stress for the grown-ups trying to enforce them. Lauri maintains democracy―and sanity―by keeping things ordered.
"I'm a big believer in cubbies," she says. "They suggest an organizational process to kids." For the boys, cubbies in wall units and dressers contain clothes, toys, games, and art supplies, organized as they wish. "Their cubbies can hold whatever they like, as long as what comes out goes back in somewhere," says Lauri. So the boys can use today's toy cubby to store pj's or CDs tomorrow with no fear of parental chastisement. "The key is that their stuff is easy for them to put away."
Wall cubbies: Translucent white Cubitec shelving ($245 per unit, dwr.com).