Today’s post is the fourth in my series about organizing common sources of clutter before the school year begins! These posts were prompted by this question which I asked on simplify 101’s Facebook page last week:

The biggest source of clutter in my house is ___________.

So far we’ve covered:

Paper clutter in this post Back to School: Tackle Your Biggest Clutter Hotspots Before School Begins

Craft supplies in this post: Back-to-School Organization Ideas: Craft Supplies

Stuff kids leave out and stuff people give kids in this post Back-to-School Organization Ideas: Kids’ Stuff Part 1

And today were going to cover kids’ clothes and toys. Ready? Let’s do this!

Clutter hotspot #6: Kids’ clothes. Clothing can quickly become a source of clutter if you have more clothes than will fit in your available storage space. (This problem isn’t unique to kids’ clothes, by the way.) While having plenty of clothes can feel like a good thing, it can lead to additional sources of clutter, such as overwhelming piles of clothing in the laundry room. So here’s what to do.

1. Figure out how much you and your kids really need. In this post, Closet Organization Q+A: How Many Clothes Do You Need?, I provide guidelines for figuring out how much is enough. Once you figure out the magic amount for your family, whittle your wardrobes down to that level. Your goal is for everyone’s clothing to fit in the available storage spaces.

2. Figure out an approach for hand me downs. It’s great to keep clothing to pass down to younger siblings or family and friends, but (there’s a recurring theme here) you’ve got to have the storage space for this to work so it doesn’t cause clutter. First, carve out a spot for hand me downs. This could be in the next-in-line child’s bedroom or you could keep hand me downs in a centralized location, such as in bins on shelves in a storage space in your home. Then do a sanity check on what to keep for later. You may not want to keep 100% of outgrown items for younger children. Take it from a youngest child, everyone wants at least a few new-to-me articles of clothing whenever the budget allows.

Curtail kids' clothing clutter by figuring out an approach for hand me downs

Clutter hotspot #7: Kids toys! Gosh, it’s been a while since we’ve had toys in our home. So even though toy clutter might drive you batty now, keep in mind there will come a day when you’ll miss those little people cluttering up your living areas with their toys. I realize that doesn’t change how the toy clutter makes you feel, but it’s important to keep in mind when you find yourself reaching your wits end with toys.

1. Declutter. As with some of the other clutter hotspots we talked about, first assess the ratio of toys to storage space. If you have more toys than will fit in the available storage areas, you know what to do. I highly encourage you to involve your kids in that process, even though it will take longer. In the long run, the time invested will pay you back over and over again. (If you need help involving your kids in the organizing process, my Organizing with Your Kids Class will help.)

2. Assess your storage. Toys, like craft supplies, will create far less clutter if they are stored near to where they are used. If your child loves to play in the family room, carve out toy and game storage in this room. Do this even if you can’t keep all of your child’s toys and games there. The key is quick and easy clean up. When the toy and game storage in the family room starts to overflow, move some toys and games back to a main storage area, such as in the playroom or your child’s bedroom.

Organize Kids Stuff:  Store Toys and Games where they are used for easier clean up.

3. Work on the clean-up habit. Start ‘em young, friend. Even if your child doesn’t put things away perfectly, work with him or her to create the habit of cleaning up when he or she is finished playing. Cleaning up is a habit that will serve you both well for years to come!

4. Use labels. Labels make it easier for kids to know where toys and other items belong. For pre-readers use labels with an image of the item as well as the name. Labels like these will help your children learn reading skills while they’re cleaning up. A win-win!

Alright…clutter caused by the kiddos is a wrap! What ideas work for you when it comes to kid clutter? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments! Thanks for sharing.

Tomorrow we’ll move on to our next clutter hotspots which is clutter caused by stuff to sell and books!

Until next time, happy organizing!


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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