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Picking your way across a toy-strewn family room after the holidays can be hazardous to your health – especially if you didn’t purge any toys before the gifts arrived. If your living room looks more like Toys “R” Us than a retreat, it’s time to get those toys under control. Here are five simple things you can do this week to make some serious headway.
First Things First: Make Sure You’ve Got a Place for Things.
Sure, it’s obvious but you wouldbe amazed at how often people overlook this organization essential. Don’t have a dime to spend on expensive storage solutions? No problem! Simply wrap some old shipping boxes in pretty wrapping paper or even newspaper. Have your little ones take crayon in hand to add some flair of their own – if they design the boxes, they’ll be more likely to use them!
Install a Few Hooks.
The workhorses of the organizational world, hooks are inexpensive and make costume cleanup a cinch. Install a row of three to five, at kid-height, in your playroom for your princesses and pirates. If you’ve got more costumes than your hooks can hold, it’s time to donate a few. Drop extras off at a local battered woman’s shelter, hospital or day care center.
Make a “Too Little For Me” Bin.
A lot of parents make the mistake of trying to cull their children’s toys without soliciting their input because they fear that their kids won’t be able to part with their toys. But there’s oneJedi-mind-trick that really works. Put a cardboard box in your playroom and write on it: “Too Little For Me” – go ahead, put a picture of a baby on the box too. Then go through toys with your children while they are playing. Have them put “babyish” toys in that bin for you to give away ortake to a consignment or thrift shopl
Overcome Sentimentality with a Picture.
Sometimes your little ones aren’t the only ones with a hording problem. We parents can be reluctant to part with toys that remind us of when our kids were younger. If either you or your child is holding on to a toy that’s too young for them, take a picture of it (ideally with your child in the frame) so that you can always remember how much fun they had playing with it – and then let it go.
Set up a “Toss” Box and Fill It.
Every kid has toys that are simply beyond repair and cluttering up your home. Grab a cardboard box and put it in the middle of the kitchen table. Set an egg timer for 15 minutes. Then have a “race” to see who can find, and put in the box, the most broken, unusable toys. The winner gets to stay up later than usual on Friday night – and you get to dump the waste without guilt.
Got a question for iVillage organization experts iVillage organization experts Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch? Post it below or e-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.