Does your child’s room, the playroom or the basement have so much clutter and junk toys that all you can think to do is close the door and run like h#ll walk-away from the endless mess?
I know this feeling all too well! It seems as though my days are mostly spent walking circles around my house and picking up this or that, scrap papers from school, markers without lids – all the “where does this thing-a-ma-jig belong” kind of stuff. Though this circling may burn calories – it also ignites frustration for all. Out of sight, does NOT mean out of mind!
So how do we keep our home free of clutter in the midst of our already busy days? What can we do to make it even a teensie bit easier? Well, now that we have had our garage sale this year – I set out on a mission to uncover the truth behind organizing and decluttering! Long gone are the giant toy boxes where you can close the lid and never have to actually organize what’s inside my friends. Toy boxes scream “Get all this crap outta here or I am going to explode and vomit tiny legos and match-box cars all over the floor!!!”
Your toy boxes don’t talk to you? Oh….um….well….that’s weird.
Moving along now.
Here are some helpful tips that I found as I was desperately trying to reconfigure our basement disaster area!
1. Toy Box: I just love what I heard about these! Imagine that a giant toy box is like a woman’s over-sized handbag – do we really even know what is at the bottom? Nope. Say good-bye to over-sizing and invest in small baskets or bins that fit the size of the toys.
2. Get on all-fours and look around the room at a child’s eye-level. This can be an awakening of sorts when you look up to the top of the 6 foot tall bookshelf! If a child cannot reach it or see it in clear-view, chances are that they will never be playing with the toys from these shelves. Store things within reach!
3. Less is More! This touches my “green-heart” as our family has really been making an effort to simplify. Ask yourself, “do we really need 46 markers, 3 pair of scissors, games with missing pieces or even 13 My little Ponies?” Keep what you need and what you know will be used frequently – not because you are worried that you MAY need it! Because you probably won’t. Often times, the less that a child has, the more they will play with these toys anyway! You have to teach your child to “let-go” of old toys not by promising a new one but rather that hoarding is not healthy for the spirit and that we all need some peace in our lives for our mind and soul to feel refreshed.
4. Teach your child to embrace an organized room! Using “positive-talk” you can reaffirm the feelings of calm that come from simpifying just by saying things like “doesn’t this room feel good now” or “you seem to really be enjoying this room so much more now that you took the time to organize it.” Statements with a positive tone can inspire and encourage your child to continue with these habits, developing the skills she needs to learn in order to continue being organized as she grows.
5. Labels! Labels can help your child better understand and remember where everything goes. The first step is to make sure every thing has a place of it’s own…or a “home” for each toy as we describe it. Once you have given each toy a “home” in a bin or basket (remember: find a basket size to meet the toy size) help your child keep the organization going by putting clearly visible labels on the front of each one so that he can easily see at a quick glance, where everything belongs. If your child cannot read – you can draw pictures, or take a photo of what toy is in the bin using your camera and print it off to tape to the front!
6. Rotate! Give new life and energy to old toys by simply stashing some of them away for a rainy day. Children can become overstimulated by “too much” and by taking some of the toys that she enjoys and putting them aside (garage/basement/closet) everything will seem new and exciting again!
7. Prevention: Prevent mysterious miscellaneous piles by scheduling purges! You can accomplish this by designating a day of the week, the first of every month or the change of the seasons to comb through the clutter and get rid of those things that are not truly loved. Please remember though, Mother Earth does NOT want these either! So rather than trashing them for landfills, recycle these items by donating them to homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, Goodwill, Salvation Army or other great causes for children who will love appreciate them.
Children need “messy time” and it’s vital for their development to be creative and explorative without feeling stifled. So make sure your child has time to be a kid, to be free, to make some “supervised” messes – just as she knows that she is responsible for her messes and that cleaning up is important not just for her, but for the whole family to feel happy! Controlling clutter can be overwhelming to children and adults alike – that is why it’s critical to not allow clutter to get so out of control that it seems impossible to change. Start small, you don’t have to change everything in one day! My organization project has been going on now for about three weeks…but I am okay with this as I am seeing a sloooow improvement! I’ll take that!
So for all of us who could use some good tips – please share what YOU do to stay in control of clutter! Do you have any tips that might helps us? How do you encourage your children to help out? There are some of us who really need YOUR help!!!