I’m happy to introduce you to Alison from Organized Motherhood. She’s sharing some really valuable tips on how to reduce kid clutter today. Let us know in the comments how you keep your kids clutter in check!
With every child you have, expect clutter… lots of clutter.
As a new mom, I gleefully added everything under the sun to my registry. And then the baby came. As he grew, we received more and more gifts and clothes and toys, until I was ready to move out of my house!
But as I became overwhelmed by the clutter, I realized that many of the decluttering books, such as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, didn’t address how to deal with kids’ clutter in a realistic way. Instead of the “decluttering magic” that I read about, I found myself constantly battling clutter.
Now that my kids are seven and three, I’ve learned to manage the clutter. It’s much better to take control of the clutter (in other words, get it out of the house) than try to clean and step around it.
If you’ve been struggling with kids’ clutter, try these four steps to organize your kids’ clothes, toys, baby furniture, and photos.
1. Start with outgrown clothes
The thought of organizing kids’ clothes can be overwhelming if you wait to do it all at once. Throughout the year, try going through your kids’ clothes at designated times. I added this chore to my cleaning planner to do quarterly and before holidays such as Christmas and birthdays when I know my kids will get more clothes.
Another way to make organizing simple is to keep small bins under your child’s bed. As your child outgrows clothes, put them in the bins instead of putting them back in the drawer once they’re washed.
As you’re organizing the clothes, don’t forget to label the bins with your child’s size to make it easier to store (and find) for another child! I love these chalk markers with labels included for my bins..
2. Involve the kids in sorting toys
The trick to getting kids to part with their toys, even broken toys, is to make it fun. In my house, we start by giving the toys “a bath” in the kitchen sink. Everything that doesn’t have batteries or fur gets washed!
As you’re sorting the toys for washing, throw out everything that’s broken. This is also a great time to get rid of any unwanted toys (like those Happy Meal toys that seem to magically accumulate).
Once the toys are washed, put away any toys that are no longer age appropriate. If possible, box them up by age and label the container.
3. Donate or sell old items
Once you’ve organized the kids’ clothes and toys, consider donating or selling any items that you no longer need.
This is also a great time to clean and purge any furniture, like high chairs, potty seats, etc. that your kids have outgrown.
While garage sales are great ways to reduce your clutter, they’re a lot of work and you might not earn top dollar for your items. If your items are organized, you may consider taking them to a mom-to-mom sale or even a consignment store.
If you don’t have a lot of time to invest, donating gently used items is also a great way to reduce your kids’ outgrown clothing, toys, and furniture. Some donation services will even pick up your items on your front porch.
4. Organize photos and memorabilia before it enters your home
As a mom of an elementary school student and a preschooler, I know all too well how overwhelming paper clutter, kids’ projects, and photos or memorabilia can become. Not only do you want to save every little scrap of paper, but with today’s cameras and phones, it’s easy to wallpaper your entire home in photos.
Before you consider building an addition or renting a storage unit just to house your photos and kids’ artwork, stop the paper trail before it even enters your home.
Reduce paper clutter
One of the easiest ways to manage paper before it enters your home is to create a system. Typically, there are three types of paper that enter your home: paper that should be immediately discarded, paper that needs to be processed, like field trip permission slips, and paper that should be/might be saved.
Try to apply the “touch it once” principle as much as possible when handling your kids’ papers. Before you begin processing the papers, make sure that you have enough time to actually process them, instead of just creating piles to “go through later.”
As you unpack the kids’ backpacks, immediately sign any papers that need to return to school and put them back in their designated place, like a “back to school” folder that stays in your child’s backpack. Note important dates and information from other papers on your calendar and file or discard the paper.
Cut down on the amount of paper/artwork that you save. My kids are also allowed to keep two pieces of artwork at a time on the fridge (everything else gets reviewed and then discarded). Once it’s time to move the artwork off the fridge, store the “save-able” artwork in a bin with file folders for each school year. You could also take photos of the artwork before discarding it to save on space (save the memory but reduce the clutter)!
Because I still love to develop and store my photos in albums, I’ve had to find a way to organize my kids’ photos. As you’re developing pictures, try to review them to minimize duplicates. However, if a duplicate slips through, place it in the same slot as the other photo or give it to a relative.
Another idea is to create photo books from a retailer like Shutterfly. It’s the perfect way to organize photos. You could create books for each year of your child’s life or for special events, like a baptism or family vacation.
Kids’ clutter doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By adding it to your regular cleaning plan (download a copy of my cleaning plan here) and reducing the amount that enters your home, you’ll be able to keep your home organized and clutter-free!
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Alison Lange is a farmer’s wife and mom of two. She is the creator of Organized Motherhood, where she shares tips to simplify motherhood and encourages women to find balance in their roles as wives, mothers, and home managers. To follow along with the Organized Motherhood community (and get access to a free resource library), sign up here or follow along on Pinterest or Facebook.
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