Whether you have one kid or eight, the odds are good their tiny rooms are filled to the brim with stuff, especially after the holiday season. And it’s easy to let that slide, as long as the kids are happy—after all, these aren’t exactly high-traffic spaces.
But we’re here to exert some discipline: Your kids’ bedrooms shouldn’t be exempt from decluttering, if you truly want an organized space in the new year.
So as part of our “New Year, Clean House” series, we chatted with some organizing (and parenting) experts to bring you a few tips on how to make over your mini-hoarders’ rooms—and get them involved, too. Plus, we’ve got details on what to do with all that extra stuff. Read on and clear the kid clutter!
A first pacifier might seem sentimental, but we’re here to tell you it’s also gross. And if binkies and bottles and other baby stuff are still lying around years later, it’s definitely time to toss them.
“It’s important to declutter old things that kids have put in their mouths, because of the potential bacteria they can carry,” says Mary Cornetta, founder of Sort and Sweet, an organizing service.
“The bottom plastic part of the bottle can be recycled or sterilized and given to a friend, but anything rubber, including a pacifier, needs to be thrown away. Rubber can actually rot over time, so it doesn’t make sense to hold on to them longer than necessary.”
2. Excess clothing and shoes
Kids closets can become just as unruly as ours, so it’s important to declutter them just as frequently—and maybe more. We’re not just talking about tossing the clothes and shoes they’ve outgrown, but also all the torn and stained items, plus any hand-me-downs or gifts they’ve never actually worn.
“We recommend editing seasonally, since kids grow so fast,” says Liz Jenkins, owner of organizing company A Fresh Space.
“We often create labeled bins for kids to hand down or grow into, as well as a basket for items that need to go away. It’s great if you can identify a friend or relative that is the next size down, fill up a basket, and pass it along when it’s full.”
Another idea for extra kids clothes comes from Hannah Hearin, owner of Home Refreshment Professional Organizing: “Clothes and shoes that are outgrown and in good shape (as well as old uniforms), can be donated to the school nurse,” she says. “A lot of times they can distribute to those in need.”
3. Artwork that didn’t pass the fridge test
We’re all guilty of keeping too many papers in the house, especially when it’s something the kids made. But if that creepy human-meets-dragon drawing didn’t tug on your heartstrings enough to keep it on the fridge when they first brought it home, chances are it never will. Same goes for the old schoolwork.
“Old artwork can easily take up precious space,” Cornetta says. “Have a dedicated spot to store their most recent or favorite masterpieces, and the rest can either be disposed of or made into a photo book using a service such as Artkive.”
4. Many, many toys
We don’t just mean the baby toys they’ve outgrown. We mean the ones they (supposedly) have lost interest in, or the board games that can’t be played because they’re missing too many pieces. But how do you get your kiddos on board with donating their stuff? Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving” has a few ideas.
“In order to make decluttering fun, I created the ‘Toy Store Method,'” she says. “This is how it works: Bring every single toy that your kids own into one space, then divide them into subcategories so that it looks like a toy store. The kids get a stack of Post-it notes and a shopping bag, and they can ‘buy’ whatever item they want to keep.”
“They keep as many items as they would like,” she adds, “but surprisingly, when they see all of their toys in one place and get to choose what they want to ‘buy,’ they end up leaving a lot behind to be donated or sold.”