STORAGE DOCTOR: CLUTTER CLEANSE
Tackle your kids’ most cluttered spots this weekend, and then set up systems that put young ones in charge of managing their own toys, clothes, and gear.
Tidy up kid zones, and follow our tips for getting your kiddos to help.
This edition of our three- day Clutter Cleanse is all about kiddos and their stuff. Because every corner in a home with kids can feel cluttered, this cleanse directs laser focus on three specific spaces— kid bedrooms, kid clothing closets, and entries. You can apply the techniques to clutter anywhere and everywhere in your home, but making changes in these three areas will reap big rewards and benefits for your entire family.
Here are some great tips for cleansing the clutter from your home’s kid zones.
LEAD THE CHARGE. If you’re reading this and wanting to declutter the kid stuff around your home, you’re probably the best person to initiate a cleanse. Recruit help from your partner and children, but realize that successful decluttering requires an adult— along with establishing systems to keep future chaos in check.
BE THE CHANGE. Be honest with yourself: What organizing example are you setting? As a parent, you need to model the style and level of organizing you’re seeking. Plan to apply the same decluttering techniques and maintenance strategies to your toys (tech, collections, hobbies), your clothing, and your gear.
RECRUIT HELP, BUT BE REALISTIC.
Although you’re in charge, you can ask for assistance. Just ground your expectations in reality and specifics. Identify the tasks you need help on and make requests with concrete deadlines. (“By bedtime Saturday, I need you to sort the toys in your room into two piles: those you play with and those you don’t.”)
REINFORCE DEADLINES. Cleanse assignments carry weight when you back them up with both a carrot (“You can have the money we make from reselling the old games”) and a stick (“After Saturday, I’m moving all unsorted games to a box in the basement”).
SCHEDULE CLEANSE TIME. Cleanses don’t spontaneously happen. Block out 90 to 120 minutes on your schedule for three consecutive days, focusing on one space each day. Tell your family ahead of time when you’ll be busy (so they don’t interrupt you).
GATHER SUPPLIES. Have the following items ready for each cleanse session.
Markers, index cards, sticky notes, and clear packing tape to make quick labels Cardboard boxes and plastic bags to sort, store, and donate items Trash bags for items to dispose Scissors or a utility knife TOUCH ONCE; DECIDE ONCE. The core decluttering decision is to keep or to let go. Simply picking up or touching an item and asking, “Should I keep this?” will often yield your answer. If you instantly know something needs to go or stay (and you have storage space so it can), follow your gut. KNOW FOUR FINAL OPTIONS. Don’t fret about what to do with stuff you’re not keeping. You can either sell it, give it away, donate it, or recycle/dispose of it. ( Visit Bhg.com/cluttercleanse for more on these four options.)
KEEP MOVING. When you don’t quickly know whether to keep or get rid of an item, place it in a pile and keep working through the room. Save the last 5 to 10 minutes of the session to deal with your questionable items.
FOCUS ON FUNCTION. Set high standards when evaluating items. Operate toys and electronics to see whether they work. Verify that you have all the pieces of games, kits, and sets. Damaged clothing, broken parts, and incomplete sets are rarely worth keeping. If you’ll fix the item in the next month, keep it; everything else should go.
WORK THE CLOCK. Set a timer (or play a specific number of songs) to keep cleanse sessions focused. Complete as much as you can in the allotted time and finish the cleanse question you’re working on. Take a 5- minute break. If you have more to go and feel up to it, do another timed session. If you’re tired, wrap it up. You can always return to a cleanse later.
REMEMBER REWARDS. Do something positive at the end of each session. Enjoying something as simple as a piece of candy, a fresh glass of ice water, or an actual pat on your back (or someone else’s) reinforces your efforts.