Control Kiddie Clutter

Sort it. Pitch it. Organize it. Donate it.

Six-year-old Will knows the secret to keeping his room clean and neat. “You see these doors,” he explains as he walks to his double closet doors. “You just close them and know one sees the mess.”

Sounds like a good philosophy for a first-grader, but not cool when he can’t find his favorite super hero figure, clean underwear or the other school shoe?  And what happens when the clothes, toys, and miscellaneous “stuff” starts to spill out the closet doors, generating piles that cover the floor and the bed?

Been there moms and dads?  Forget about the yelling, screaming, threats and bribes, bravely step into that room and take charge. Your mission, and do include your youngster in the task, is simple:
• Sort the clutter
• Throw away anything that is broken or doesn’t fit
• Design an organizational system
• Donate useful, but no longer necessary, items to a favorite charity. (Extra benefit – a good lesson in giving and sharing for your child.)

Okay, you have the basics. Ready to get started?  Take a deep breath, gather trash bags for throw-aways and give-aways and prepare to tackle the clutter.

Sort it!

Depending on the state of the room, you may want to begin by clearing the floor, before addressing the overflowing dresser drawers and closet. Sorting categories should include: clothes, toys, books, and school essentials. Place out of seasonal clothing that can be worn next season in a storage container for the attic or other storage area – you may have out-of-the-way extra room at the top of a closet. Downsize your child’s clothing to a reasonable, manageable amount. If you can’t part with favorite t-shirts or hand-made items from Aunt Jane, start a memory box for attic storage. Use a similar method to sort through toys. Most organizational specialists and parenting experts advise a rotating toy system for optimum management and entertainment. Pack half of your child’s toys and some books away (not the favorite bedtime books) and take them out again in a few months to replace the existing toys – your child will be delighted to see “new” toys. Use this revolving system on a regular basis throughout the year, especially near birthdays and Christmas when there risk for accumulation.

Pitch it! Donate it!

Discard items or toys that do not fit, are stained and ripped, have missing pieces and those that are not age appropriate. It can be difficult to part with
children’s clothes and toys, as there is often a sentimental attachment. Put nostalgia aside however, and donate those good-condition items to a local charity.

Organize it!

Now comes the potential fun, productive part of decluttering.

There are several ways to organize – you can design a storage plan yourself, check with home improvement stores and organizing companies for diverse ideas and examples, or pay someone to advise and develop a custom-built solution.

You will have a better chance for continued clutter control if you develop an organizing format that reflects your child’s age, height, interests and favorite colors. First, find a place in your child’s room to bend, kneel or squat down to look at thinks from his or her viewpoint.  Amazing isn’t it? The things you see and can reach from that angle will make a difference in arranging the closet and deciding which drawer is the best for finding underwear, socks and school clothes on a busy morning.  Organization professionals recommend a bottom up approach to organizing dressers. Undergarments and socks, at the bottom, school, play clothes in the middle area and top drawers reserved for random items such as gloves, hats, bows.

Keep the adult-height clothing rod for once-in-awhile clothing, such as raincoats or Sunday outfits, but place a low rod for your child’s everyday clothes. You’ve not only arranged two types of clothing styles, but also made it easier for your child to select and hang up his own clothes.  If there’s room, be sure to add shelving to the closet. If not, consider adding a child-sized bookshelf or cabinet in the room. Store toys, books, miscellaneous small collectibles in clear or colorful storage bins and baskets that are easy to access and easy to put away. Even if your youngster is not old enough to read now, incorporate a labeling system for the storage bins – it will help you stay organized and help your child as she learns to read.  Use the same bottom to top rule for organizing toys and books – favorites and frequently used at the bottom.  Storage bins with lids are the best for blocks, toys with many small pieces, or collectible figures.

There are many container options available for organizing kids clutter, You can invest in a system that is sturdy and adaptable as your child grows from organizing specialty stores; try the home improvement stores for a variety of budget-friendly options or use your creativity to decorate and label inexpensive containers. Labeling is highly recommended for all containing methods.

When the room is sufficiently decluttered, finish the job by taking a trip with your child to donate the items you previously set aside.

How will you keep kiddie clutter under control?  That’s a subject for another article!

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