I can’t think of anyone more qualified to give us spring cleaning tips than Matt Paxton, an extreme cleaning and organizing specialist. You may know him from A&E’s “Hoarders”!
He is here today to share with us Family and Kids Organizing and Cleaning Tips!
If more than 25% of the game pieces are missing or you haven’t played the game in 2 years, consider donating it. Keeping a few board games is fun for the entire family, but more than 10 isn’t very realistic. Make space for NEW board games that will fun as kids and family member’s age. Don’t be afraid to include grandparents when playing video games and gaming systems, you’ll be surprised.
Children’s books are difficult items to pare down and often have memories attached to them. We encourage our clients to focus current books on age appropriateness. Spring is a great time to go through all the books in a child’s room and ask if it’s really something they would read. If they’ve aged out of the book, transition that book into the next child’s room. If the book is no longer appropriate for anyone in the home, consider donating. If more than 25% of the pages are ripped out, consider recycling. Parents, remember that although you may not be, many of your young children are learning to read books on tablets or online. Don’t let your memories cloud their learning abilities. Also don’t be afraid to rotate new books out monthly with trips to the local library.
In my house and the houses I clean, managing arts and crafts is the biggest struggle. We manage the storage of existing supplies pretty easily with storage bins, a very specific location for all supplies and a simple rule…”if the supplies are on not put away upon completion of the project, they get thrown away.” Tough love is sometimes needed and when open paint cans, glitter and glue are in play, it’s appropriate. Throwing away some supplies at first may cause some tears, but it works.
Our struggle with arts and crafts is the storage of COMPLETED projects from home, school, after school, church and friends’ houses. We’ve started a fairly simple process to preserving your pint sized Picasso’s paintings. Remember the goal is to show the artwork, but also have enough space in your home to truly enjoy the art of each child.
First, when the item arrives home, check it out and preserve it electronically. I suggest using smart phone apps like ArtKive or storing in shared storage like DropBox or Google Drive. Make sure the folders are marked by child and year or grade.
Secondly, sort out the paintings that don’t really make the cut. Even Monet had a few paintings that were considered “practice.” In our home, each child receives a big box to store all WEEKLY art. At the end of the week, we make sure all the art the children like is photographed and stored electronically. Then the CHILD picks which item they want to show for the week and then that item is shown on our “Wall of Fame” refrigerator or on the bedroom door.
At the end of each week, the Weekly box is emptied out and the weekly favorite is moved to the child’s second box, which is for “weekly winners.” The weekly winner is marked on the back with the artist’s name, age and/or grade. The non-chosen items are now thrown away. YES, I said throw away your kid’s art.
At the end of each season or every 3 months (summer, spring, fall and winter) we sort through the weekly box and keep a favorite 1 or 2 which goes into our 3rd box, the lifetime box. The lifetime box or bin must be deep enough to keep about 4 to 6 pieces per year.
This 3 box process will enable you to sort through the hundreds of paintings and drawings your children make each year. You’ll need a space for 3 bins per child and keeping up with the sorting on a weekly basis is imperative to keeping the flow of artwork, paper, stickers and glitter down. Although it’s often difficult for parents to let go of the artwork created, remember that all of the items have been saved electronically and your children have chosen the items they like. Most importantly, in 10 years, your kids will love you because of the time you spent with them that first night that lost a game or that weekend at Disney or the day they got into college. They will not remember which drawing you threw away from Mrs. Spindler’s 1st grade class.
Clothes are a volume game. For most of us, we save because we know the kids will grow quickly and out of the clothes. Get realistic when sorting. If the clothes don’t fit anymore, transition them to younger kids in the home or donate them. Do not save clothes for children that do not exist yet. That dress might look great on that niece you hope is someday born, but if they aren’t on the way or already born donate the items. Fabrics, technology and trends change quickly, donate these clothes to someone that TRULY needs them now and not a potential relative that may or may not ever be born. Also ASK your relative if they actually want your used items. Sometimes they are just being nice and may not really want that clean sweater you just used your finger to scrape off 6 month old oatmeal.
*Donation: You’ll notice most solutions above include donating to a local charity. Consider donating to an “immediate use” charity such as woman’s shelter, single parent groups, local church closets or other NON retail charities. In my 10 years of cleaning homes, I’ve found most people are willing to let go of items when they are going to someone in need and not to a store that will just resell their items.