Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Decluttering: a pack-rat’s tips

An earthquake recently jolted New York City. While damage was minimal, my oldest daughter posted a photo on Facebook of her youngest sister’s playroom, “apparently the only part of our house affected by the earthquake.”

I have raised a slob.

Now, I don’t profess to be all spic & span, but I do prefer a clutter-free zone. Yet I am at heart a pack rat. This is why I believe strongly in closets.

Our family has a lot of them.

When we built an addition to our house, we added a wall of extra deep closets, where the television, DVDs and board games live. We also have a ton of videotapes, which no one watches. I’m not even sure our VCR works. The kids watch movies on their computers.

In our battle to reclaim floor space, I have these 10 tips:

Bins. I love color-coded bins, so kids can remember that crayons go in the yellow, markers in the blue.

Baskets. I use baskets throughout the house, for hats, gloves, makeup.

Shelves. All those bins and baskets can’t be in the floor, because then there would be no place to walk, or play.

Clear boxes. These are best for high closet shelves, so you can see which has the sweaters, which the ski socks.

Rotation. Most kids simply have too many toys. If you put some out of reach – in the basement, under the bed, on the highest shelf, it limits kids’ options, plus it seems like they have new toys when you bring them back out.

Donation. When they clearly have outgrown something, I donate it. But don’t donate too soon. My youngest decided she was done with Barbie, but I knew she was too young to completely give them up. I put them in the basement playroom and, although she denies it, we know that she still plays with them.

Stoop/yard sale. In our Brooklyn neighborhood, families have frequent stoop sales, where they unload extra or unwanted toys. Be beware. Some kids use the opportunity to buy new toys with the money they make (we usually donate the money to whatever cause the kids choose).

Digital camera. Get rid of school projects, but preserve them by photographing them before you trash them (and don’t let kids see them in the garbage).

Less is more. I really like when beds are made, but blankets and covers make it more difficult for kids. We have sheets topped by comforters with print covers. All you have to do is pull the comforter up and the bed is made. And laundry is simpler. You don’t have to wash the comforter often; just wash the cover.

Build. If you run out of floor space, build a new closet.

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