Clear the Clutter

by Guest Writer

Here it is 2012 already, yet the clutter from December 2011 is all you can see—especially if you have kids. If December was the month of over-consumption, then January should be the month of organizing all that stuff! At my house we were hit with a double-whammy last month—not only did we celebrate Christmas, but my daughter had her second birthday, as well. While we acquired tons of adorable things, we still had tons of other stuff. Since my house didn’t get any bigger, the challenge is finding a place for everything—sometimes that means finding a new home for our once-loved belongings.

I think most people have heard of California Closets. In case you haven’t, they’re a company that specializes in storage solutions that will make people who love organization smile from ear to ear. They are also a company that follows sustainability practices—which makes the eco-minded folks equally happy. All of their boards are made with recycled wood fibers and they offer translucent panels made from organic materials as well. These beautiful storage systems would work well to de-clutter a child’s bedroom or playroom—helping kids know what items they have so they can play with what they like. As a bonus, you’ll quickly know if certain toys are neglected, so you can quickly move them out of the house.

If getting a custom closet system isn’t in your budget, then another great option comes from Way Basics. Way Basics manufactures storage cubes, bookshelves and storage benches made from something called zBoards. The zBoards are 99% made from post-consumer recycled paper. They are similar to particle board furniture in that you put them together yourself, but Way Basics weigh 62% less than particle board while maintaining excellent strength. Plus, instead of using nails or screws, Way Basic pieces are held together with 3M brand adhesive strips. I can personally speak to the strength and durability of these shelves since I have two of them and have been extremely pleased with them. Plus, they were so much easier to put together than your traditional particle board items.

I have a little girl who loves stuffed animals, but after a while I start to wonder where I will keep them all. Boon makes a really cool stuffed animal beanbag-type chair. These bpa & phthalate-free bags not only store all those stuffed animals, but they also serve as a place for your little ones to sit. I also like that they have a “window” so your kids can see which stuffed animals are in the chair.

Once you’ve gotten everything neatly stored, you’re sure to have some left over items that your children may have outgrown or lost interest in. So, what can you do?

–        Give the items to a friend. Maybe your friends have younger children who would enjoy the toys your kids once loved. I have a friend who passed along many of her daughter’s Minnie Mouse toys to my daughter—toys that have since been discontinued (bonus). My daughter LOVES those toys, and my friend is clearing her clutter.

–        Donate them to local families. Maybe you know someone who is having a difficult time financially for any number of reasons. The toys and clothing you donate to those families will certainly make a big difference in their lives. Plus, if you involve your children when you give their old toys to someone else, you are teaching them compassion and caring in a very unique way that will certainly stay with them.

–        Donate your items to a charity. My guess is that charities will begin making phone calls this month to find out if you have anything you’d like to donate. I get these calls all year long, and 9 times out of 10 I will agree to make up a bag of items to donate. This is really the best way for me to keep the clutter at bay. The night before the donation truck is scheduled to come, I run around my house with a garbage bag and fill it with items we no longer use or that the kids have outgrown. Some charities that will pick items up from your home include: Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Lupus Foundation, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

–        Sell your clothes to a second-hand store like Kid to Kid or Once Upon a Child. These stores will buy your gently used items and then re-sell them. You get to clear them out of your house while getting a little extra cash and these stores get to offer the clothes to other customers at a huge discount off the full retail price. It’s a win-win.

So, get started on January by organizing what you’ll keep and clearing out what you won’t! Good luck!


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