When either our son or daughter has a birthday coming, that means it's time to clean out and clear out! Our son, Adam, has a birthday today, so Friday we spent the day clearing stuff out....and as I always tell the kids, if you don't clean out the old stuff, you won't have room for new stuff! That's usually a good motivator!
So, this week's project for my son, especially, is to clear out his stuff. We try to go through his bookshelf every couple of months - those trinkets add up! I mean, how many toy cars and rubber balls does a boy need? Adam started on the bottom drawers under his closet - you've got to love the old houses with these great closet with storage under and on top!
He worked hard - for several hours going through papers, boxes and old toys. He's turning eleven and he's starting to realize that many of his toys aren't so sacred anymore. You can see he had a lot of stuff to go through. He did it without complaint and handled it well! He couldn't wait to get to the label maker which is available through Amazon here. He has file boxes which are available through Amazon here labeled with:
- special papers
- activity books
- train books and papers
When the box gets full, he has to get rid of stuff. We go through those about every three or four months and regularly purge those - schools send home WAY too much paper!
Here is a look at how many bags of toys he gave away:
This is about six large bags and then he also had three trash bags full of trash we took out as well.
This is the top of his closet, now mostly empty. And to his credit the large, clear box on the left is his dad's memory box and the large, box on the far right is my wedding dress! Just because you have room doesn't mean you have to fill it!
Here Rachel is also working on going through her stuff and cleaning out a little bit - although she has a lot less stuff than Adam.
Let me give you some things to motivate you and your kids with de-cluttering:
- Go through your kids stuff on a regular basis - at least pick through it every few months.
- With kids, give them limits (i.e., my kids have trinket boxes and can keep no more than 20 - same for stuffed animals, but they only get to keep five because they are the most useless things ever)
- Start them YOUNG - I have been doing this with them since they were about 2 years old making THEM go through it
- Don't let them get distracted, stay close by and get them on to the next thing because it's easy for them to start playing with the stuff they forgot they had
- If they choose to get rid something, don't discourage them even if you think it's valuable or something that surprises you. It's THEIR stuff and if they want to give it away (perhaps you can make a family heirloom exception) - for goodness sake, let them!
- Same thing for them: One in, one out! If they have a big birthday part with 20 gifts, then make them give away 20 toys of similar size! Or, have smaller parties
- I have one kid who gets VERY sentimental and attached to so much. But we're working on realizing that when you have 30 VERY important things, you only get to keep FIVE that are the most important and the rest get tossed or donated.
- Schedule for a charity truck to pick up the kids stuff a few days after you plan on going through it. Vietnam Veterans of America is my favorite one since they pick up AND you can schedule it online. Also, more valuable things put on your local freecycler. CBC Recycle Group is my church's group and if you don't have one, look for one in your city/area. We gave away six or seven of the nicer things to the group - and they went FAST!
- Label, label, label - if they can't read, make labels with pictures of what is inside. This will teach them to read the word AND know what it's inside - no excuses! I take pictures of the contents, then print on paper and cover with clear tape. Then, (see above picture with Rachel close up) I attached the picture with the label of what it is to the basket using cable ties which you can purchase from Amazon here. Get a big bunch of those and you'll use them for everything!
Here is a picture of the closet organizer (before we put closet doors back on) in my daughter's room a few years ago. I LOVE these and have been doing one closet each year when they go on sale. They aren't cheap, but I save up all year. The Container Store Elfa Girls closet is the best for us since you can move it around as they grow (which this closet is already changed because her dresses got so long) and we have eliminated dressers altogether. Enjoy! Get motivated to get all that junk out of your kids' rooms...and play areas!