It's Birthday time, you know what that means, right? | Organizing Made Fun: It's Birthday time, you know what that means, right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's Birthday time, you know what that means, right?

When either our son or daughter has a birthday coming, that means it's time to clean out and clear out!  

It's Birthday Time |

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!

Cleaning kid Clutter |

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!

Cleaning kid Clutter |

Organize with labeling |


Organizing a bookshelf |

Organizing a bookshelf |

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
  • magazines
  • 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!

Giving Away Toys |
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. 

Giving Away Toys |

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!  

Organizing Clutter |

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.
Teaching kids to Organize and De-clutter |

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!

Closet Organizer |

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  1. wow! That closet looks great!!! Closets sre the most cluttered in my house.

  2. Yeah! I'm glad you are blogging. These closets look great and I'm more impressed with the way you had your kids in it. I've been going through my kids stuff over the years often enough. But now that they are older I'm realizing that they need to be doing it more themselves for ownership. So, I love how your son saw many things that he didn't consider sacred anymore. My little guy likes to organize and I need to do this project with him. My daughter is somehow happy with her mess. She needs so much more hands on help. Any suggestions?

  3. Amy - I would suggest that you start small with your daughter and just give her a drawer or side of the closet at a time to work on. Teach your kids the difference in loving something of eternal value versus earthly-fading away stuff! Part of it will be you telling her that she can only hold on to a certain amount of sacred things - it's really a disobedience and disrespectful issue with older kids (especially teens) that they don't keep their rooms clean - since they are living in their parent's home they need to honor the Lord by doing what mom and dad expect. Some kids have a harder time (I have one) so start small :) If we always do the cleaning up or we always get rid of stuff, our kids never learn to do it for themselves. Happy Organizing! Becky

  4. Great ideas for helping kids keep things under control. What great kids, not even complaining about decluttering. Getting new things is a good motivator. Thanks for linking to We're Organized Wednesday.

  5. Looks great. Isn't it great when the kids "get it"? So great you are teaching them now....

  6. Wow, looks great! I'm a new follower. I love the closet! I need to come back and read all your other tricks. Thank You on how to fold fitted sheets. Drives me crazy. And hubby doesn't understand how to get kids to clean. He says- go clean your room. Hunny, they are 3 and five, they need help and direction.

  7. Bookmarking this post for those great de-cluttering/kids tips! We have the girls start turning over their toys ahead of birthdays, too. Your tips will be a great help! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Sally - thanks for stopping by! Please come again!

    Becky B.

  9. Angie - The more you teach them, patiently, the better they get, too! My motto is "if they make the mess, they must clean up the mess" and even at 3 and 5 {of course we have everything "in it's place} they can do it with a little motivation and help :)

    Becky B.

  10. Nice job! Your daughter's closet is beautiful!! (Oh, how I miss those old-house closets!) And getting them started as young as possible is the key to teaching them good organizing skills. Good for you!

  11. Becky, I loved this post!! Going to feature it on Friday. :) I love that you involve your kids in cleaning and purging. Too often, I distract mine so I can go through their stuff...but I guess 3 and 5 is a little young to send off to declutter on their own.

    I'm visiting from the "Goodbye, House Hello, Home" link party today. Hope you'll stop by my blog to say hi. :)

  12. Good for them, Becky! Their closets look fabulous! When can they come over and do mine? : ) I find a real pain is those promotional items that are given out at stores {i.e. small rubber balls, keychains, key lights, etc, etc.} I wind up throwing out so many of those things that I would really rather my hubby not bring them home at all. Yes! He is the culprit!

  13. Amanda - thank you very much for the feature! Also, at 3 and 5 they can certainly go through their own stuff and clean it out. It has to be going through a small amount and mostly just trinkets, but you can count out 20 trinkets and then just tell them to keep their favorite 10.

    Kathy - I agree with all that stuff! My hubby is also a culprit. But, even so, I tell the kids that if they want that stuff {junk} Daddy brings them, they have to get rid of as much of their stuff as they take in - Daddy brought 5 squeezie balls and you get rid of 5 trinkets. I also try to tell my hubby that they'd rather have his time than trinkets....which is true {plus, hopefully less promo stuff}.

    Becky B.

  14. Oh my, your daughter's closet is gorgeous. I'd be tempted to leave it with no doors. So pretty.

    Stopping by vis the Purge Party.
    Happy Monday!

  15. Marcia, if her closet would stay looking that clean, perhaps! But, it won't so we close the doors! My son is much better with keeping his closet clean so we have left the doors off:

    Becky B.

  16. Hi Becky!
    I have only worked with a handful of children other than my own (i.e. paid by the parents to get their kids organized.) Those sessions with those darling kiddos that DID not have a clue (because they weren't trained from early on- because their parents hadn't a clue, bless their hearts ;) were like hell, (the word "hell" is in the Bible;) LOL!
    I hated it. They do get attached and they do put great value on "their" things.
    I was the one blamed for their unhappiness and I couldn't wait to get outta there!
    So, you are a very, very wise momma to start teaching them now and how to purge.
    I've done many of the same things with my girls.
    In fact, my 20-year old daughter, at college, frequently sends stuff home (her books, off-season clothing) with us to put back in her empty-ish (sniff sniff) room here, so her dorm room stays neat!
    My younger daughter, 16, will spontaneously declutter her room and emerge with an armful of stuff to donate!
    So, it's what you have to look forward to!
    I adore the closet systems and will check the links on those!
    Eyeballing the buttons in your side bar- I notice you lost a lot of weight, as did I 3 years ago!
    I am gonna go read that now...
    Thank you for coming by my party! I always see you at Marcia's and now I'll be coming by your place, too!
    Hugs and blessings to you as you make your home!

  17. I love your son's closet! My house has NO closets~I'm not sure how I missed that when we bought it. My husband is building some this summer whether he likes it or not!