Have you started yet?
As the holidays close in, it is time to give the kids closets and toy cupboards a bit of a pre-holiday de-clutter. Actually, it’s the PERFECT time to do this. That and just before their birthday and if you happen to have a Christmas baby, well done, you only need to do the job once a year! These are my tips for a pre-holiday declutter. All kids are different, some will joyfully help you chuck out everything especially if they think their cupboard will be filled with brand spanking new goodies in a few weeks. Others will have a meltdown at the thought of throwing out their collection of pencil shavings. And then… there is mama who often hinders the whole thing because of guilt (well, Granny P did give little Jack that knitted monkey when he was 2). Here are my top tips/rules call them what you want, for getting the job done as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Prepare your kids in advance, don’t just drop it on them out of the blue. Give them some warning, like “We are going to sort through your games drawer after school today, OK?” If your child is prepared they can handle their emotions better than if you suddenly drop it on them out of the blue.
Decide beforehand what you are going to do with the things you are getting rid of, do you plan to sell them, donate them to the charity shop, donate them to a shelter, pass them on to younger friends/relatives etc. If you know what you are going to do with the outgrown toys/clothes you can talk about it matter of factly with your kids. Explain why it’s a good idea to give them to XYZ or what you will do with the money if you sell them. This is a great time to talk about those less fortunate and how this really is a time of giving, maybe you can come up with other ways to give too. A note about selling: If you are short on time as it is, do you really think you can sell the items? Especially if you are thinking of doing it online, it takes a lot of time (and in my case patience) to take photos, upload them, the deal with shipping, and all that. If you are strapped for time, weigh up how much all that time and effort is actually worth.
Get specific on what you are going to get rid of. Be realistic about what is really worth keeping or giving, would you be happy to receive a game with 3 pieces missing, nope, then don’t dump your rubbish on someone else. Aim to get rid of:
- Anything that is no longer played with
- Anything broken or with missing pieces
- Anything that your kids have outgrown
Then file them in to sell, donate or chuck away bags/boxes. Some kids get very attached to their belongings and often when they grow up they are still the same, maybe you fall into that category too? Try not to attach YOUR emotions to the toy, that will make it even harder for your child to give up, when you are about to say “but such and such bought you that” BITE YOUR TONGUE. If your child is ready to pass the toy on, let them. If your child really struggles with letting things go, break it down into small chunks and just tackle one drawer or shelf at a time. I know some people prefer to go in and do the job when your child is not around because it’s ‘easier’ but that isn’t really helping your child in the long run. Explaining that it is coming up to the holidays and that they are likely to be getting new toys and they need to make room for them. This usually eases the pain of giving things away. Plus working together will give you a chance to talk and bond over the situation rather than it turns into a tantrum-throwing “But you threw away my … situation”. No fun for anyone. One little ritual that my son started when he was little is to say thank you to the item before giving it/throwing it out. I think he picked this up from his Shinto Yochien (kindergarten) where every day the kids thanked the plants, animals, teachers, garden etc and anything that had been used and was no longer useful, they thank it for its use before throwing it out. I think it’s cute but it is also very mindful and it’s a practice that we have kept.
It is very common for kids (and adults) to put things to one side with the intention of chucking it out but then changing their minds! To prevent this, box and bag everything up immediately and get it out of the house ASAP. If possible, the same day, make the break quickly.
Once you have cleaned everything out, this is a great time to do a bit of organizing and cleaning. Wipe down any shelves and cupboards and then put away everything you are keeping. Be mindful when you do it, don’t just shove everything back in!
Another TOP TIP
Lucky you, I am full of them today! If you get into the habit of doing this annually it is a great time to review your child’s setup. Kids grow – as you might have noticed, so the shelves that were hard to reach last year might be easier to reach this year. This is one of those Kaizen Hack moments that I am always going on about. Kaizen means improvement, so how can you improve your child’s storage area, what tweaks can you make to make it easier for them to get out and PUT AWAY their toys by themselves? What annoying things happen with their toys? Do they always seem to be missing parts or does the jigsaw box spill everywhere each time they try to take it out? Think about what is going on and find a way to fix it. More often than not, the smallest tweak will make a huge difference! These small tweaks make life easier for your child which makes life easier for you! Worth keeping in mind. Let me know how your clear-out goes if you share your before and after use #kaizenhacks and tag me! I LURVE before and after pics, almost as much as I love chocolate.