Home     Home and Family    

9 tips to conquer kid clutter

Busy mom offers Hudson Valley parents simple cleaning tips

Busy mom offers parents simple cleaning tips

As a mom of five, I get exhausted just thinking about how much clutter kids are born to make and it only gets worse as they grow up. Sure, you can tell your kid to “pick up,” but chances are he won’t even know where to start. I should know, I have five kids! My youngest is still in diapers. I say clutter needs to be attacked. It requires time and steely determination. Here’s how I do it:

  • Spend an hour a day overhauling what your kids already have. Separate items into boxes designated: “throw away,” “donate,” “sell,” “fix and store.” Then group like items (e.g., trains, Legos, game pieces), so you can quickly figure out what you are missing and what you have duplicates of.

  • Tell family members about your fight against clutter. Ask friends and relatives to change their gift giving habits. For instance, have Grandma take the kids to the zoo instead of buying the kids more Legos and Barbies.

  • Make your kids pitch-in. Have them do a fast pick-up daily or at least when company is on the way. Invest in some large toy bins, preferably brightly colored plastic ones. Ask your kids to throw their clutter into the bins, then close the lid on the whole mess.

  • Make new storage. Consider using under bed boxes or plastic storage tubs to store out-of-season clothing under your child’s bed. Also consider using empty shoe boxes or copy paper boxes to store miscellaneous toys, which can then be shoved into a closet.

  • Perform a paper purge. Pick out the best of your child’s crayon drawings. Save some. Put some up in the garage or laundry room. Give some away to relatives. This is a tough one for most softies.

  • Never search for shoes again. Place a medium-sized basket by the front door for seasonal shoes. Out of season shoes can be stored in their closet or in a plastic tub in the basement.

  • Take all DVDs and CDs out of their cases. Store them in a short, round case or in a disc album that will hold 8 CDs per page in sleeves.

READ MORE: Spring cleaning checklist

Do a purge before holidays and birthdays. It’s a given that more stuff will be arriving... I like to pretend I’m moving in a week, which prompts me to get rid of more things.

Keep it up. To maintain your newfound order, remember to have the kids pick up daily, either before dinner or before bedtime. Teach them that it’s easier to clear away clutter right after they’ve created it, than let it collect and get out of hand.

 Sell your stuff!

Here are some suggestions on how to turn your clutter into cash:
  • Hold a multi-family garage sale.

  • Bigger is better when it comes to garage sales, so get some other families to pool their unwanted stuff together with yours. Try to hold your sale from Thursday through Saturday. Put up flyers and posters about your sale. Advertise in the newspaper and/or online. Put price tags on everything and neatly display your merchandise. If you’re selling used appliances, give customers a way to test them out. If you have a lot of kid clothing, hold your sale in August before school starts.

  • Sell it on Craigslist or other online sites. Post good quality photos and write detailed descriptions. Be prepared to have potential buyers come to your home to check out your items. Let potential buyers know you want to get rid of your item pronto.

READ MORE: Wow-worthy alternatives to store bought cleaners

Sell it on eBay

  • Start by checking out how much items like yours have been selling for on eBay, so you can set a fair price (this depends on whether you want to auction the item or go for direct sale). Give detailed descriptions and use clear photos. If you’re selling several items, offer to combine shipping. That will draw more customers to help turn your clutter into cash for you!

Kerrie McLoughlin, her husband and 5 children fight clutter daily.