Everyone with kids knows that they typically come with lots of STUFF. And somehow it keeps coming in…if you have more than one kid the challenge is even greater.
This buildup is natural. More than any other time of life, the very nature of childhood is about growth and change. Your child’s abilities, interests, and sizes are constantly evolving – and all the toys, clothes, learning materials change along with them. And young ones are magnets for toys and gifts from relatives.
This means if you aren’t keeping a constant vigil on moving out outgrown items (and how many of us are, really?) you’ve likely got some backlog of unused and unneeded kid stuff.
If your kids have a little more time at home during the summer, take advantage of that to do some weeding.
Break It Down
You’ll have a better chance at success if you focus their attention onto one category of stuff at a time. A general request to “clean out the playroom” isn’t going to get them very far. But a specific request to gather up all the DVDs and choose the ones they love to watch is much easier to get follow through on.
If you divide up the project into categories you’re teaching an important skill about grouping “like items” together.
Put out a big bag or box and have the kids weed some or all of these groups:
- Board games
- Clothes that don’t fit (can even break this down by type – tops, pants, jackets)
- Sports equipment
- Craft supplies
- Art projects/ drawings
- DVDs, video games
- Toys (you can break this category down by type – electronic, stuffies, dolls)
Create a System and Motivate
Sometimes it’s easier to decide what to keep, rather than what to let go of. Clearly labeling 3 bags or boxes – KEEP, MAYBE, DONATE/SELL can help. Let your family know it’s like going shopping for things they love within our own collection. This helps kids get in touch with making conscious choices about what they really use and like.
Motivation strategies to get them going:
- Help them visualize the end result – more space to play with their favorite items
- Use a timer to bound the work
- Offer incentives or rewards – a movie night after clearing out unwanted DVDs for example.
- Create a contest or game around who can purge the most
If you’re paying for a babysitter or childcare, enlist their help to tackle 1 category a day. Even as little as ½ hour each week spent on weeding will go a long way to staying ahead of the next influx of new gifts or purchases!
Are your parents ready to move? Maybe one is thinking about moving but the other isn’t ready? Are you worried about their safety and think they should be thinking about moving but they don’t seem interested at all?
Assess the situation and be realistic. Deciding to downsize is process with many layers and chapters. Where are your parents in that process?
- Not ready. Can’t see themselves leaving home
- Considering the possibility, but not convinced
- Ready but don’t know where or how
- Ready and have a plan
Assuming your folks ARE ready to move and are just getting started, here are some tips for helping you successfully help them:
- Your pace may not be their pace. Be respectful and mindful of where your parents are at in the process of being ready to move. You’ll only be able to go as fast as they are capable and willing to. Understanding their resistances rather than fighting them will enable you to better tailor your message to their ears.
- Help assess their immediate needs. Are they or you considering moving because of a need around safety, health, hygiene, housekeeping, meals, or social life? Help identify solutions to challenges in these areas while they are still at home if possible.
- Don’t let your attachments hold them bac Can’t believe they are wanting to get rid of the special quilt Aunt Mary made? Then you take it!
- Don’t take sides. When one person in the couple wants to move but the other doesn’ Generally, unless health and safety are at risk, there are many pros and cons to moving – all subject to a particular person’s perspective. Remember that the negotiation process between couples is complicated and not so much about right and wrongs as it is about finding a set of solutions that both can live with.
- Offer to find resources. Downsizing and moving can require a lot of research and using different vendors – offer to research and coordinate potential resources that may be needed during the process. This can allow your parent to focus on the work of sorting and decision making.
- Estate sale folk, auction houses, online auctions: who is in the area? How do they work and what percentage do they take? What happens to the things not sold?
- Thrift stores – which ones will come pickup from the house? Which ones require staging things outside? Who will take what?
- Hazardous waste – how to get rid of leftover cleaners and chemicals in your area? (stopwaste.org) Are free pickups offered for seniors in your area?
- Free city bulky waste pickups – most cities offer at least 1 per year but all have different rules about how to schedule them, what can be picked up, and how items have to be organized at the curb.
- Movers & packers – find out rates, ranges, and availability. Check reviews and call references
- Professional moving/organizing help – Sometimes an extra hand is needed to make the move happen. NASMM.org and NAPO.net both offer search pages to find professionally trained help in your area.
Additional resources you may find useful:
Have you had trouble finding a new home for your child’s outgrown car seat? The charity stores won’t take them. It can be pain. They take up a lot of room in your house or garage and they don’t fit in the trash can!!
TerraCycle and Target want to reward you for recycling your old car seat at a participating Target store!
From April 17th through April 30th, you have the opportunity to recycle your old car seat at participating Target locations! To participate, simply bring your old car seat to the designated Target Take Back recycling area at a participating Target store.
All car seat brands are accepted for recycling. In return for recycling your car seat, you will earn a 20% discount on a new car seat.
To see if there are participating Target locations in your area, please click here.
You don’t have to buy a new car seat in order to take advantage of this service.
Be Prepared For a Day at the Beach … or Anywhere!
Want to head out to the park and find yourself scrambling around the house trying to find where the sunscreen was last left? Or the hats?
Summer, with its many outings and camps is a great time to put together a few “grab & go” bags. If you have certain activities you do often, it is worth duplicating some items in order to always have them on hand when you’re ready to go. The bag contains the staples that always need to be there and things like snacks or reading material can be added as needed.
Beach/Pool Bag: bathing suits, sunscreen, goggles, earplugs, towels & hats
Park/Outing Bag: sunscreen, hats, bug repellant, picnic blanket
Day Camp Bag: sunscreen, sunglasses money, hat, light jacket
The key is having a dedicated home where your specialty bags live and remembering to replenish the bags after your outings. Make sure freshly laundered items make their way back into their bags instead of into a dresser or cabinet.
This model of making specialty bags also applies year-round to other activities and not just for kids:
- Sports: uniform, water bottle, sunscreen
- Overnights: toiletries, flashlight,
- Classes: paper, pen, class materials
- Gym/Workout: water bottle, toiletries, snack bars
- Meetings or Committees: notepad, pen, reference materials
- Charging kit: extra phone & computer chargers
It may seem like a bit of extra work, but when your supplies are ready to go, getting out the door quickly keeps you relaxed and able to be spontaneous. Spend your time on your outing instead of stressing out and wasting time searching the house for the park blanket. As an added benefit your kids learn the benefits of being prepared ahead of time!
Do you know that feeling of celebration when the school year ends? It’s all well and good but with the end of school comes stacks of homework, completed art projects, elaborate dioramas and original literary works.
Do yourself a huge favor and don’t wait until the end of the summer to weed through it all. The good news – it doesn’t have to be a big hairy project. You can make huge headway in a short amount of time. As little investment as one hour can save you lots of hassle in the fall.
Here are four quick projects you could do in an hour (especially if you enlist the kids for some help!):
- Empty out the school backpacks completely and search the house for orphaned schoolwork
- Go through completed homework and separate true keepers from the rote worksheets and tests. Pick a representative sample that captures the school year and preserve only the assignments that both you and your child want to carry forward
- Decide what you’d like to display and move other items to a memorabilia box or oversized art portfolio (pay attention to the fact that these items have a lifespan)
- Throw out broken or used-up school supplies – dead glue stick, broken pencils, dry highlighters, etc. – in the process create a kit with the leftovers to be used for next year’s backpack
Involving the kids teaches them the lesson of “cleaning up” after an event. It teaches children the importance of having a sense of closure and responsibility. This is a useful habit for other areas of life too: you know the problem…you return from a conference or a trip and all your mementos, notes and maps are stuffed into a backpack or gift bag waiting to come back and haunt you at a later date.
Do you have a tip for how you motivate your children to go through their schoolwork? Share it with us!
Parting is such sweet sorrow!
We love learning from our clients! On a recent appointment with a client, Dana noticed a mid-sized bag on the floor of the kitchen pantry. She asked what it contained and the client said “Oh, that’s the Bye-Bye Bag!”
This is a great technique for holding her kids accountable for cleaning up their play space. Here how the “Bye-Bye Bag” technique works:
- When it’s time to pickup the playroom give the kids a set time to get the job done.
- If they refuse or the time is coming to a close, remind the kids that any toys they choose not to put away will go into the “Bye-Bye Bag.”
- The Bye-Bye Bag holds toys for 1 week. At any point during the week they can go into it and choose to put a toy away but at the end of the week anything left in the bag gets donated.
Here are 5 keys to making it actually work:
Make cleanup easy (and possible!). Have accessible, simple homes for toys to be put away. It’s hard for kids to cleanup if shelves and bins are stuffed and jumbled.
Make A Routine. Setting a regular time in the day linked to an event that always happens (teeth brushing?) helps create an expectation for children. For example, have toy pickup always be 15 minutes before teeth brushing time.
Be Consistent! You don’t have to break out the bag 100% of the time for cleanups but address the reluctant behavior consistently so kids understand that it’s part of the routine.
Be Firm but Kind. The point of the exercise is to teach responsibility and accountability. Putting away toys is their choice, but there are consequences to the choices they make. This is a very important life lesson! Using the Bye-Bye bag doesn’t have to be threatening or mean, just a simple consequence for their choice.
Follow Through. The power of this technique only stays effective if toys actually do go “bye-bye.” If they aren’t retrieved from the bag in a week’s time, out they go! To ensure prompt follow-through keep the bag somewhere you’ll remember.
Have a question about how to apply this in your home? Or do you have a variation that has worked well for you? Share it here!
Here’s one kind of “closet” that can be made using the PAX system from IKEA. The final product had sliding glass doors. In 2016, this unit cost about $1,700
An armoire is a free-standing closet. If you have minimal closet space or just need more closed storage, an armoire can be a lifesaver. IKEA’s PAX product line is one of the most customizable; it allows you to design the exact kind of storage that you need. Here are 5 useful tips for designing an IKEA PAX armoire:
TIP: Before starting to plan, take an accurate inventory of your clothes. How much hanging space do you need? Are most of your clothes short-hanging (less than 40”) or do you have long robes, gowns or slacks hanging with clips? What kind of folded clothes do you have? Socks, underwear, jammies? Are you going to store shoes in the system or not? At this point you don’t need to know HOW you’re storing everything but you need to know exactly WHAT you’re trying to store.
TIP: Be mindful of prime real estate. When designing your system, know that the prime area of storage is the zone from forehead to hip height. Plan to stow most-used items in this zone.
TIP: You can design the closet yourself using the online planning tool. This tool enables you to drag and drop all the components and features. Is it user friendly? Hmm…you have to be fairly computer-savvy to use it. You can also get help from an IKEA staff person in the store. Some of the staff actually have knowledge of how to build your system.
TIP: These are modular units, but the very first decision you make is what kind of doors you want to use; sliding doors or doors that open out. This is because the basic frame is different for these different door styles. Also, you need to choose the best height for your PAX system. It comes in 2 different heights. Generally, you want to maximize your vertical storage (the taller option) if your room can accommodate it.
TIP: You can save money by going full DIY including pulling all the pieces from the warehouse and assembling yourself (2 people required) or you can get IKEA to help as much as you want. With your design, the IKEA staff can gather the components, deliver it to your house and install it.
* Note: If you are going to purchase their installation, it is important to know that you are responsible for removing the baseboards in the area you want the armoire installed so the IKEA installers can attach it to the wall.