Author: Cathy KayFamily organizing toys

Babes In Toyland

Written by Cathy Kay, Four Corners Organizing LLC

As a new-ish mom, and someone that works with clients that have kids, a HUGE hurdle to tackle is a child’s toy room. No matter how big your “toy room” is, it seems that the kids’ toys take over all rooms of the house. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t really going for a Mickey Mouse aesthetic when we moved in. 

Nonetheless, it has happened. So what’s the best advice for those who try to keep a clutter free home while also letting “kids be kids?” Let me count the ways! 

1.) Label as much as you can. 

A huge reason why it’s difficult for some kids to put away their toys is because they don’t know where things go. An easy way to keep games and toys that have a lot of pieces “contained” is purchasing a clear, multiple compartment drawer and labeling each compartment. This can be done with a label maker or even letting the kids help out and make their own labels! This is good for toys such as Legos, Kinex, Barbies, etc. This way, the kids know exactly where everything goes when it’s time to clean up. 

2.) Big toys = Big problems. 

I know a larger than life issue for me includes the “big toys”. Huge racecar tracks, kitchen sets, dollhouses, you name it. If you have an additional storage area available, such as a portion of your basement or spare bedroom, a toy rotation is your best bet. Put a few “big toys” out for a week, and then switch them out every other week. Once you start noticing your little ones have a favorite and keep going back to the same toy,

it may be time to add to the donation pile! This will keep those big toys from overflowing into every part of your home. 

3.) Make cleaning up a game!
There’s nothing kids like more than a game, especially if they can win it! When there’s about 20 minutes left until bed time, or lunchtime (whenever the kids need to get their area cleaned up), set the timer. Tell them whoever gets their toys cleaned up first gets an extra story at bedtime, or their choice of dessert; something that they would really appreciate and enjoy. 

Hopefully this will help those of you who dread looking at the toy room and can see  see a light at the end of the tunnel. And hey, at least Christmas isn’t for another ten months!

Hopefully this will help those of you who dread looking at the toy room and can see  see a light at the end of the tunnel. And hey, at least Christmas isn’t for another ten months!

Author: Amanda JeffersonHolidays organizing toys

De-Clutter your Toys before the Holidays

Photo by Vanessa Bucceri on Unsplash

Let me start with a shocking statistic to get you in the holiday mood.

The United States has 3% of the world’s children but buys 40% of all toys sold worldwide.

I know – It’s terrifying! 

This season, if you’ve got kids, you’re likely going to have an influx of new gifts and toys, so it’s the perfect time to learn how to help kids wade through their toys and create space for what sparks joy.

The tips below will have you on your way to decreasing your clutter … and increasing your joy.

  1. Help them identify what they genuinely love. Ask your child, “Does this spark joy?” or “What are your favorite toys”? This question will help them to distinguish between the things they genuinely love and the things they don’t.
  2. Create a Wish List. Every time your child asks for a toy, say, “Sure! I’ll add it to your wish list.” Then, add it to a Wish List that you’ve created in a notes app like Evernote. This way, you are validating their request without immediately gratifying it. They won’t remember 90% of the things that they’ve asked for, but some things may come up again and again. That’s your “hot list.”
  3. Institute a “one in, three out” rule. For every new toy they ask for, tell them they will need to let go of THREE. This curtails splurge purchases and ensures that they really want that new toy.
  4. Prioritize “non-fixed” toys. The book Simplicity Parenting has helpful guidelines for which toys to keep and which to toss. Try to keep “non-fixed” toys, which awaken a child’s imagination. (Think blocks, figurines, craft supplies, etc.) Avoid “fixed” toys”. These are toys that typically do only one thing and don’t spark much creativity (or keep them busy while you’re trying to cook dinner!). 
  5. Consider instituting “fun money.” Each week, our daughter has $5 to spend. It can be on ice cream, visiting a play place, a piece of candy, or a toy. If she doesn’t spend it, it carries over. So when she asks for something, I can say, “let me check your fun money,” which lives in a separate pocket of my wallet. If she has fun money, she can usually get the item. If not, she can’t. It takes the focus away from “my mean mommy who won’t let me have it” to a more neutral place of “oh well, I don’t have enough money.”

Teaching your kids to choose toys wisely and to treasure the toys they have is not something that happens overnight. But you can slowly change the conversation, put some boundaries up and help them curate a collection of toys that spark joy for them and that minimizes clutter for you.

Happy holidays, friends!

Author: Denise MacMurtrieClutter Family Home Organizing Organizing Products organizing toys Project Management

GO Month 2017

When Laura Kelleher saw a Facebook contest to win a room makeover, she didn’t realize the full effect of uploading a photo of her messy playroom. The contest was the first annual ‘Home Makeover Facebook Contest’ run by NAPO-GPC as a way to celebrate January as GO Month, or ‘Get Organized Month,’ in order to offer encouragement to people to start the New Year off with less clutter, less stress, and more clarity. After being selected as one of five finalists, the Kelleher family was selected as the 2017 winner.

Laura and her husband Tom, of Horsham, PA, live in a quiet suburban neighborhood with their three active children. The playroom, which is the first visible space upon entering the house, is a hub of creativity and imagination, particularly for the two older boys, ages 6 and 10, who build with Legos, collect dinosaurs, decorate the room with their artwork, and have a large collection of cars, trucks and collectibles. Then there is their 10-month-old baby sister who is just starting to explore the world of her big brothers. Getting the playroom organized was becoming an urgent need with stray Lego pieces within their baby sister’s reach.

The overarching goal for organizing the room was based on the fact that both of their sons are autistic. The lack of a clear system for the boys to access their toys and art projects created stress and an inability to function smoothly at home. Although both Tom and Laura knew their boys would respond well to systems and order, the project was too overwhelming for them to tackle on their own.

So on March 31, eight organizers from NAPO-GPC volunteered their time and talents to plunge into the Kelleher’s playroom. After clearing the room of all toys, books, and games, the professional organizers assembled five IKEA shelving units, sorted and categorized the vast variety of toys, and then brought it all together into a beautiful, well-ordered system. Laura and Tom worked alongside the team making decisions and securing the units to the wall.  When completed, there was an entire section devoted to Legos, a bookcase for all craft items and books, and bins specifically dedicated to toddler toys.

The team completed the makeover in under five hours and then they waited for the boys to arrive home from school. It was like a surprise party and Christmas rolled into one! Now the brothers could rediscover their treasures and everything had a place! Bins were labeled and lids protected against the dangers of small pieces. No longer a stress zone, the family could enjoy the playroom as intended.

Click on the above title to learn more about the featured author.

Author: Darla DeMorrowbathroom clutter Clutter Family General Organizing organizing toys Wardrobe Management

6 Things Organized People Do

6 Things Organized People Do At Home from HeartWork OrganizingIf you come to my house, you won’t see a perfect, magazine-ready home. But you will see a clutter-free, tidy space, unless the kiddos are having a LEGO-fest. Then all bets are off.

Want a more clutter-free home all the time? Take note of things that organized people do to keep their home organized.

  1. Don’t put it down, put it away. Yes, everything has a place in my home, even if it isn’t always in its place. If piles form in places they shouldn’t be, we reduce, recycle, shuffle, store, or donate to make room for new items. This goes for mail and coupons, too!
  2. Make time to clear the clutter. It doesn’t take much, but my kids know that we will wait for them to clear the toys out of the living room before they can turn on the TV. We occasionally will be late to events because they needed to put craft supplies away. It’s a small price to pay now for my kiddos to learn that they are responsible for keeping the house livable.
  3. Make seasonal adjustments. Flipping the closets from winter to spring and from summer to fall takes just a few hours, but it’s a must-do. It’s not a glamorous job, but making sure there is storage space in the closets and dressers means that other things can be put away in the closets, and not end up sitting out, creating piles of clutter. (See point number 1 above.)
  4. Use the downtime. I think the microwave is among the greatest organizing tools ever invented. Whenever  I am warming a cup of tea or prepping a meal, I use those 30 second and 2 minute chunks to quickly tidy one small area of the kitchen. A minute can be spent daydreaming out the window, or it can be used to quickly load or unload the dishwasher. Two minutes allows enough time to go through a backpack or toss junk mail. I can quickly clean the powder room while waiting for little ones to put on shoes and jackets. It’s amazing what little jobs can get done in 60 seconds or less, the average run of our microwave. Even upstairs, I use the time my children are playing in the tub to quickly clean the bathroom floors. While they are brushing their teeth, I can be putting away laundry. These little chunks of time really work for us.
  5. Don’t buy extras. Because I don’t buy for “just in case,” I don’t have to carry home, store, clean, and organize extras. I try to buy just what we need, just at the right time. That of course, doesn’t include toilet paper. You can never have too much toilet paper.
  6. Keep lists. My brain is full from the moment I wake up in the morning, so my brain is no place to keep important information (ha!). I keep a few lists for shopping, tasks, and events, and a very tight calendar to help me manage it all. Most of my lists are electronic, so I don’t have random papers floating on my counters.

While there are many more things that organized people do, these 6 things that organized people do might help you to stay more on track in your own home.

Author: Nina BowdlerClutter Family General Organizing organizing toys

Letting Go of the LEGOs

toy box pictureWith being a mother of three boys, it comes as no surprise that we have a toy box ‘filled to the brim’ with LEGOs. That’s right, every color, shape, and size ever put on the market from 1998 until 2010. I have over 12 years of memories concealed in this toy box. So, when my boys suggested that we ‘get rid’ of the LEGOs, I admit that my heart sank a little bit. Immediately, I thought of the countless hours my boys spent imagining, creating, and building their creations and my constant amazement how these little blocks could hold one’s attention for so long. The actual toy box was my husband’s from his childhood. This in and of itself is a family ‘heirloom.’ So, does it make sense to discard this ‘treasure trove’ that I hold so dear? You would think that as a Professional Organizer it would be a ‘no brainer’…not so much.

Do I purge on a regular basis? Yes. Although it comes naturally to me, I do try and live what I so often preach to my clients. “If it is no longer useful to you, why not bless someone with what you are no longer using?” Well, every now and then, sentimentality wins out. I am as sentimental as the next person and treasure certain items dearly. That being said, every item cannot and should not fall under this category. So, how does one choose?

First, you should ask yourself if the item holds good memories and brings you joy. If so, find a spot in your home to enjoy this treasure. Over the years, I have been gifted with many items from family, but have only kept what is useful to me. Take for instance your grandmother’s china. Maybe you have another set of fine china that appeals to you. If this is the case, donate or gift your grandmother’s set to someone else.

Second, take your storage space into consideration when deciding on what to keep. It does not take long for clutter to accumulate, and there is nothing worse than living in a cluttered environment. Also, if you can’t find the treasures when you want to use them, why hold onto them in the first place?

So, you’re probably wondering if I still have the white, wood toy box. The answer is yes! While my boys obviously don’t partake in building with LEGOs any longer, I have had on occasion, certain visitors who have enjoyed them. Also, it is located in our basement that was once our ‘toy room’ but has since been renamed the ‘workout’ room. Every now and then I get a glimpse of the toy box filled with LEGOs and my heart swells with wonderful memories of ‘years gone by.’