comes this question:

“Hey, how are you?  I think my biggest organization issue is kids’ stuff.  I need help deciding what you should keep as hand me downs (i.e. toys, books, clothes, etc.) I am drowning in kids stuff from all different stages.  My children are fairly close together in age, so I have a hard time justifying getting rid of something, only to realize we will need it again, very soon.  But, at the same time…I AM DROWNING IN JUNK!!! Help me please!”

Here are some ideas. Be sure to add your ideas in the comments. We don’t want any fellow blog readers drowning in junk, do we? ;)

Let’s start with clothing. For clothing, first, figure out how much and the types of clothing your child needs at any given time. This article from my website that will walk you through this thought process. (It’s the first idea under closet q&a.)

Once you have figured out how much each child will need at any given size or point in time, go through your hand-me-downs with the goal of keeping less than the target you came up with. (In other words, if you think ten t-shirts are adequate, keep around seven.) Why less? Perhaps I’m an advocate of the younger child (since I was the youngest and didn’t enjoy getting hand-me-downs from my sister who is five years older than me (read: out of style hand-me-downs!)) But even taking that out of the equation, if you’re drowning in things now, it’s because things keep coming into your life. That’s not likely to stop. You’ll want to buy each child some new things at the start of a season or for the new school year, and your child may get new clothes as gifts from relatives. So you don’t need to keep everything in hopes of handing it down. Keep the best things, your favorite things and those in the best condition.

As far as toys and books go, keep what you have the space and time to deal with. Keep the things your younger children will truly need and not just maybe want. Just like with clothes, your child will get new toys and books for birthdays and other holidays. So don’t feel like you need to keep everything. Keep expensive or one-of-a-kind items and let go of toys that are poorly made or worn out.

One more idea:  involve your children in the process. While this can make it more challenging for you in the short term, you’re giving your child a precious gift:  the skill of letting go and living comfortably in the available space. Let your older children decide which toys and books they’re ready to pass along to your younger kids, and then, let your younger children select their very favorite items from the pile. Box up the items that don’t make the cut and donate them to a local charity, daycare or library. Take your kids with you to the donation center, and then treat everyone to an ice cream cone to celebrate a job well done!

For further reading on organizing with kids, check out this article on conquering kid clutter. Enjoy!

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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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