Tidying up when living with children | Home & Garden

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I don’t know if it’s the by-product of spring cleaning, knowing that summer break is just around the corner or that I’ve been snooping on Netflix’s The Home Edit, but I’m ready to declutter my house — especially my stuff Children . As all families with young children know, children often go through toys as quickly as they go through developmental stages, leading parents to feel like we need to constantly reorganize or replace items.

And don’t get me started on the things in our homes that aren’t even toys, but rather “treasures” that make their way into our playrooms and basements and piles of laundry: special rocks. party favours. Plastic spider rings. The nozzle part of a spray bottle. An old cell phone. A glowstick that has lost its luster. An old flash drive. A lucky coin gifted by a loving family member but pretty much useless to your child as it’s a euro. Life seems to pile up, one toy or treasure at a time. May I give you some quick tips on how to declutter children’s items and restore peace to your home this spring?

The 100 item pickup

Feeling overwhelmed by clutter but not ready for the total makeover that will declutter your entire home? Try the 100-item pickup. Grab a box or bag and choose just 100 items to recycle, put in a donation bin, or throw away at the moment. Many families will be surprised at how quickly they can get to 100 items – think old magazines, outdated children’s pictures or a lonely sock without a match. A bonus of this strategy is that your young children can practice counting to 100, a kindergarten favorite.

sell it

Consider offering lightly used items for consignment or resale. You may find that your older children take some interest in selecting items for sale, especially if you offer them a percentage of your total sale or tell them you will use the proceeds for a family trip or trip. Local outlets for children’s items include Once Upon A Child, Just Kids and Underdog Sports, Memorabilia & Games in Springfield, Remarkable Resale in Rochester and Sweet Pea Consignment in Chatham.

donate it

Donate used items to a good cause. The Hope Thrift Center in Springfield, The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity are just a few local organizations that accept gently used donations of children’s supplies. Don’t forget to contact libraries, schools, community-based or religious organizations in your network to inquire if they would benefit from a specific donation. Be prepared to explain exactly what you are offering so the program director knows if they can use it.

What about that puzzle that’s missing a piece, a board game without all the pieces, leftover craft and art supplies, or other random things you come across? While your first inclination may be to toss it in the trash, a relatively new nonprofit called Creative Reuse Marketplace is diverting material away from landfills for reuse by artists, teachers, students, and community groups. Visit their website (creativereusemarketplace.org) to view a room-by-room listing of accepted items and schedule a drop-off.

And remember, if something goes into a donation box, make a plan for where it’s going right away so it doesn’t sit in the corner of your toddler’s room for a month (I’m looking at it here). Some organizations like Hope and The Salvation Army will even come to your home to collect donations if you make arrangements in advance. Habitat for Humanity will collect large items such as furniture and home accessories that are donated to ReStore.

Get your kids involved…

On a rainy day, take the time to sort through toys and games with your kids to sort out broken or missing parts. Kids are very good at categorizing objects – Legos with Legos, Tinkertoys with Tinkertoys, etc. Nine times out of ten when I’ve started a decluttering or organizing project with my boys, they’ll find a gem they haven’t played with yet have been around for a little while, giving us all the benefit of new and novel independent play.

…Or not

If you’re stuck with your kids by your side, organize the kids’ stuff when they’re out. I know, I know. That can go awry when your child’s room is full of beloved treasures, but I’ve found that taking a stab at the clutter yourself can often be the key to productive organization. Nervous about accidentally removing something valuable? Break the above rule of taking donations out of the house immediately, and put a box or container with less-used but “not-ready” items somewhere out of sight. Let your child know their belongings are still in the house and just ask if anything is missing. Chances are that you will be able to donate most of the moving goods after some time.

Pamela Savage is a freelance writer based in Springfield. While she loves keeping her kids small, she’s looking forward to the day when the plastic cast of Paw Patrol can move out of her home forever.

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