Right now I look into my kids' rooms and it's pretty much chaos. I know I have to help them weed through the things they don't use anymore as well as find things we can donate, including clothes and toys before the onslaught of gifts that will come their way from relatives and friends. Teaching them they're fortunate is a top priority for me, as well as teaching them the value of generosity. It's slightly overwhelming for me to process the lesson and the organizatoin. Professional organizer, Barbara Reich, offers some valuable tips to get the kids' rooms in order and also offers ways to educate your children on the importance of giving to others and the ability to "let go." Reich gives these guidelines to whip us all into shape:
- Organizing and the spirit of giving go hand in hand. As you and your child talk about the holiday gifts they want, take the time to talk about children who are less fortunate. Ask your child to think about what toys he/she has outgrown and may want to donate. Begin a tradition of purging before the holidays. Not only does it teach your child about giving to others, but it results in extra shelf space before the big influx of toys.
- Eliminate the big toys. There are some toys that are purchased, rarely used, and then “put away” on the floor because they don’t fit anywhere else (the pirate ship, princess castle, and barn, to name a few.) If your child hasn’t played with an “always on display” toy for 2-3 months, clear the decks. My motto: “You can have a museum of toys in your home, or you can live in your home.”
- Eliminate the “junky” toys. These are the party favors, cereal box toys, and the random key chains you buy as souvenirs when you travel. These tiny trinkets somehow end up everywhere and distract your child from playing with high quality toys.
- Eliminate the duplicates. You don’t need 5 versions of Monopoly or 3 memory games. Select the version your child likes most and donate the rest.
- Group like things together: Walk through the room and begin to group like items together. All of the small animals, all of the matchbox cars, all of the Barbie dolls, and all of the puzzles should be grouped together. Use clear plastic boxes or labeled bins to store the small items that are grouped. This enables your child to find the toys more easily and is more visually appealing than having them scattered all over the room.
- Eliminate the original packaging. Large toy sets such as trains and Legos may not fit easily in the original packaging. Or, some toys will take up less room when separated from the original packaging. When this is the case, buy appropriately sized boxes and bins that can be labeled and used to house the toy.
- Manage the grandparents. Many grandparents believe the bigger the better when it comes to presents. To avoid the 100 pound stuffed animal, be proactive about what you want the grandparents to buy. If they want to buy something “big,” steer them toward electronics, theater tickets or tickets to sporting events.
- Edit the Library: When children are young, their interests and reading levels change frequently. So, as soon as your daughter is over her princess phase or graduates to a new reading level, take those books out of circulation and donate them.
In my opionion it's important to not be afraid to say "no" to your kids. Ultimately they will still love you and might learn an important lesson about this season in the process.
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