Books and train tables and doll houses, OH MY!! Is it just me or do kids accumulate an excessive amount of stuff? From outgrown clothes to piles of paper artwork, I easily get overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF that builds up in my home over short periods of time. It’s easy to let our kids collect clutter, but if we can cultivate play areas without clutter and teach them the value of the items they have, their little minds will have more room to explore with focus. We’ve found that the fewer toys they have, the more they play with a few special items and their own creativity.
Brittany and I go way back. She first joined our team as a professional proofreader and is now our Director of Sales and Operations. I so love the Happy Stripe spreadsheets she makes and her unrealistic hope that I will learn how to keep a secret; but ultimately, her first instinct to help anyone and everyone is what I admire most. She’s a true gem of a mama to "baby" D, and is here to help with all things kiddo + RDC!
B’s Top 3 Tips:
- Make decluttering a regular habit. Whether it’s toys or clothes, the fewer things you have, the fewer things you have to keep organized / stored / cleaned up. Toss any broken toys or destroyed clothes and donate (or consign!) ones in good condition but that your kids will no longer use. The longer you put off decluttering, the more daunting it seems. It’s just stuff, and if you can set aside a few minutes to do this regularly, it goes much faster each time!
- Put away toys and clothes that are no longer age appropriate for your kids (if you’re saving them for a younger or future sibling). I love a clear plastic storage bin as much as the next gal, but if you don’t have one on hand, repurpose those Amazon Prime shipping boxes — sort your stuff by age range/size, and put the boxes in storage until you need them again.
- Start the habit of rotating toys. It’s best to start this one when kids are not around to witness “my most favorite toy ever, don’t take that one!” being put away. Remove some toys from the toy room and divide them among a few boxes to be stored in a closet, attic, or basement. Then whenever all of you are ready to mix up playtime a little, bring out a new box and put away what’s currently available. I promise, this works and kids love it. We moved from Chicago to Orlando last year, and — save for one small bin of toys and books I packed in our car — all of the other toys got packed away in a moving truck for 6 weeks. When we unpacked the toys in our new home, my 2-year-old was THRILLED to see his favorite toys again — it was like being reunited with old friends! I rotate books too. We have lots of kid books but only keep a small selection out at any one time. I store them seasonally, like decorations, and pull out the appropriate books as seasons change and holidays come and go (though we do keep the tried-and-true bedtime favorites always at hand).
Team Simplified: How do you corral toys in living spaces so that it doesn't overtake your grownup area?
B: Our family is very big on utilizing hidden storage so that our family room doesn’t look like a toy store exploded. Having previously lived in a small apartment in NYC, we learned quickly to utilize any out-of-sight storage that we could, including under beds and in small closets. When it came time to buy furniture for our next house (in the suburbs of Chicago), we opted for an oversized coffee table with a shelf below — the perfect place for oversized baskets to corral toys! We have also used baskets on bookshelves and in entertainment centers. Another great option is an ottoman with storage room inside!
Team Simplified: What do you do with hand-me-downs you'll want to keep for the next kiddo?
B: I’ve made a regular habit of decluttering kid stuff. My husband and I are pretty clean people and don’t like clutter around, so when something’s outgrown (toys or clothes), it goes into our storage area almost immediately. I started this habit a few years ago and, since it’s something that’s now part of our routine, it’s now a pretty manageable task!
Are your kid's 2T tops are now becoming belly shirts? Long pants are now crop-length? Time for storage. Emily regularly says, “Physical clutter is mental clutter,” and we all know this is true. Every other month or so (or when I know it’s time to size up in clothing and replace some items), I do a quick run-through of my kid's closet and dresser and pull out everything that’s too small. If it’s in good condition, it goes into a bin or box labeled with the clothing size, and then into storage. If it’s destroyed or riddled with holes, I toss it. Boom, done—and since I do this regularly, it takes me 15 mins or less.
Team Simplified: How do you know when it’s time to get rid of stuff?
B: Is it broken? Toss it. Don’t keep broken junk in your house. Is it in good condition but rarely played with or worn (or is it only around because you paid money for it or it was gifted to you)? Give it a new home — donate or consign it.
Have you ever been putting away laundry and realizing there aren’t enough hangers in your kid's closet? Or cleaning up toys and thinking you don't have enough storage solutions? As Nana says, maybe the problem isn’t that you don’t have enough hangers or bins, but that there are too many pieces in the closet or toys in the playroom (that likely aren’t all being worn or played with anyways, let’s be honest). Don’t clutter your space (and your mind) with things that don’t fit, are out of season, or aren't being used. A decluttered, organized space is a happy space and reduces decision fatigue. Give your family (and yourself!) that gift — it’s a breath of fresh air.