No matter their age, kids create clutter. But by establishing guidelines, you can keep the chaos under control and teach children valuable lessons about taking good care of their belongings. Try these ideas to reduce kids’ clutter in your home:
- Avoid toy boxes and trunks. Small items sift to the bottom, and you have to empty the contents and make a mess to find them. Instead, buy assorted sizes of clear plastic bins for categorizing and storing each child’s belongings.
- Store frequently used items, such as socks, play clothes, art supplies and favorite toys, in designated, easy-access bins, shelves and drawers that are labeled with details of the contents. (Use picture labels for pre-readers.) This way, when it’s time to tidy up, it’s easy for kids to stow their items and deposit dirty clothes.
- Keep a small laundry basket, to collect dirty clothes, in each child’s closet.
- Hang a see-through shoe organizer low on a closet door, and label the pockets so kids know where to stash small items such as hair accessories, game pieces and guitar picks that easily get lost.
- Put a bin, crate or basket near the exit door to collect sports gear. After games or practice, have kids deposit kneepads, cleats, batting gloves and other sports equipment in the container. That way, they’ll always know where to find the items.
- Hang pegs or hooks at child level for jackets, backpacks and hats.
- Buy a filing box and help your child set up files for schoolwork, pictures, awards and certificates, personal mail, articles for future reports and hobby brochures.
- Create clutter-free zones in your home. Belongings left in these designated areas go to “Clutter Jail”—and there’s a fee to get them out. Or, create a “Swine Fine” jar. If kids’ don’t pick up their belongings, call out “Swine fine!” and require them to deposit a designated amount of money in the jar. These two strategies work best when mom and dad are accountable, too. Let kids collect the fine when you leave items out.
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