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Monday, October 22, 2012

Destressing Christmas - Tackle Toy and Other Clutter Now

Christmas can add clutter to your home, especially to your child's room. To head it off, declutter now!

This is a great time of year to encourage your child to declutter toys before being inundated with more! Before a birthday is another good time to declutter. Even three- and four-year olds can grasp the concepts of outgrown toys, generosity, and order.

How to encourage your child to get rid of excess:

- Help your child envision giving toys to a younger friend or sibling, a disadvantaged child, your church or a charity.
One of our foster daughters kept picturing her clothes making a younger child happy, which motivated her to get rid of four bags of clothes!

- Be sensitive to your child's sentimental favorites, yet help him learn to discriminate between favorites and toys that have lost their appeal.

- If your child is having difficulty, make it a two-step process. One of our daughters agreed to putting a bag of stuffed animals in the attic. After several months, she was able to part with many of them.

- Determine beforehand how much toy storage your child's room will allow or how much storage you will allow. These may be two different things! Just because a room has space, doesn't mean it needs to be jam-packed! When you're out of storage space, toys must be discarded or put away. (We put a way two-thirds of our girls' toys and swapped out toys three times a year.)

- Create limits - so many of one type of toy. If a new one comes in, an old one goes out.

- Discard broken toys or those that have missing pieces.

If your child declutters a couple of times a year, excess will be controlled, and her room will be manageable and pleasant. 

Make sure your child has a system - a place for books, a place for larger toys (I recommend shelves), bins or boxes for toys with many parts, a place for collections or special items, and a place for papers, a trash can, and a laundry basket. In my opinion, large toy boxes create frustration - your child cannot easily find toys or tries to yank out tangled toys creating breakage. 

Don't stop decluttering until there is no clutter and the room is peaceful. When Christmas comes, there will be adequate space for your child's new toys!
Set aside time each day for your child to maintain the system - time to make the bed, put away toys, throw away trash, put clothes in the laundry basket, etc.

Now on to the rest of the house! Before you clutter your house with Christmas decorations, cards, extra food, etc., clear out unnecessary stuff. If you have four weeks before Thanksgiving, divide your home into four areas and tackle one area each week. If it's three weeks, divide your house into three areas, and so on.

As you comb through each area, ask yourself if you've used it recently, if it adds value to your life, if you love it, if it has a home. If not, consign it, toss it, or donate it.  

For those things you want to keep, find homes for them with similar items. Use double-duty furniture and accessories that provide storage as well as function - an ottoman with storage inside, end tables with drawers or shelves, or decorative bins or baskets that hold smaller items. Keep decluttering until your home gives you peace of mind.

What a nice way to start Christmas preparations with a lean house! 

If you need more extensive help decluttering, check out Three Steps to Decluttering or Decluttering Any Room in 3 Weeks.

More on decluttering:
Three Steps to Decluttering 

More Help - Teaching Your Kids to Declutter

Decluttering Any Room in 3 Weeks