Project: Simplify ’11: Hot Spot #3 revealed

We’re back! And with this hot spot, we’re officially halfway through Project: Simplify. Are you feeling re-energized? Exhausted? Motivated? Overwhelmed? Maybe a little of everything?

I understand. It’s easy for me to feel that way, too. But that’s the beauty of all of us doing it together — watching progress happen, testifying with our own eyes that the goal isn’t perfection, but instead a more purposeful living space. You guys really have inspired me.

This week’s hot spot will require help from others in your home — specifically, the little people. Not only will you get extra hands to help with the stuff, you’ll be teaching life lessons in how to treat the things we own — with respect, but with an open hand.

That’s probably a pretty big clue. Ready for it?

Hot Spot #3

This week’s hot spot: toys and/or kids’ clothes.

It only makes sense that Project: Simplify isn’t a solo deal. Everyone lives in your home, and helping your kids declutter and organize their toys is more than just cleaning — it’s helping them hold on to things loosely, prize the things they do keep, and learn the value of giving to others.

Organizing their clothes gives you an excuse to take inventory of what they have, box up or pass on clothes they’ve outgrown, and make a list of what you need to buy for the future.

An important note about this particular Hot Spot: Everyone has a different situation, so it’ll be a bit hard to prescribe hard-and-fast tips for decluttering and organizing. Sorting through stuff with your teenager is light years different than helping a toddler. To keep this post from being chapters long, I’m going to share my own experience and plan with my young children. You’ll know how to best do this with your own children — and feel free to ask and answer questions to other readers in the comments section.

Let’s get started.

Here are the tools you’ll need this week:

• Organized Simplicity, especially chapters 4 and 13
• A large “give” box
• A large “store” box (one for toys, one for clothes)
• Smaller boxes for clothes storage (if you’re doing the clothes)
• Containers for corralling toys (if you’re doing the toys)
• Cleaning supplies (check Appendix A in the book for my homemade recipes)
• Price tags and a pen (optional)

Here’s the basic plan for decluttering the toys:

1. Set aside some time with your kids to handle every toy, one by one. If your kids mostly share the toys in one playroom of sorts, you can do this together as a family. If they have separate toys in their own room, you can do it one-on-one.

2. Toss any unwanted items in the “give” box. This can be either for donation, for selling, or both.

3. Clean the remaining toys and the toy storage system.

4. If needed, set aside some toys in the “store” box to be shelved and rotated out in a few months.

5. Organize and display the toys so that they’re loved and play-able.

6. Tag and price the toys in the “give” box you plan to sell in a yard sale.

7. Donate, pass on to another family, or post online (Craigslist, eBay, etc.) the rest of the toys in the “give” box.

Here’s the basic plan for decluttering the kids’ clothes:

1. Go through each of your children’s clothes, possibly holding up the items to see if they still fit.

2. Set aside items that no longer fit. If there are younger siblings (or there might be in the future), put these items in the large “store” box. If there’s no one else in your family who can wear them, toss the items in the “give” box.

3. Clean the closet and the dresser drawers.

4. Organize and re-stock all the items currently in use.

5. Sort and store the items to be passed on to the next sibling.

6. Tag and price the clothes in the “give” box you plan to sell in a yard sale.

7. Donate, pass on to another family, or post online (Craigslist, eBay, etc.) the rest of the clothes in the “give” box.

Head here to download and print the supply list and steps (written above), so that you can tack it somewhere where you and the kids can see it.

A few tips…

Really think about the toys you want in your home.

We’ve written extensively here about the value of quality toys that allow your children to exercise their imagination. As a family, we do our best to avoid toys that entertain — essentially playing on their own while the kids watch. To us, that’s not playing.

I shared my favorite classic toys a few years ago, when my kids were much younger.  I’ve also shared ideas for cheap and free playthings you probably already have around the house. Megan has also written about how to handle your relationship with well-meaning gift givers who give you toys you — well, just don’t love.

And in my book (pages 179-180), I talk a bit more about our favorite open-ended toys.

Consider your kids’ feelings.

It’s easy for us, as adults, to think the rock collection on the window sill is trash. But to our child, it might be a prized collection. This is a fine line to walk.

I tell you all the time to ask yourself the questions, “Is it beautiful? Or is it useful?” when you’re decluttering, to help you decide whether something stays or goes. This comes from the famous quote from 19th century architect William Morris — “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Your kids should ask this question, too, about their living space. A child’s room is their little sanctuary, a haven where she can be herself and express her personality.

As an adult, extend some grace when your kiddo wants to keep something you find ugly. I can already tell you Strawberry the Bear will have to stay in our home, even though I’d toss it in the “give” box in a nanosecond if it were me.

Store toys appropriately — easy to play with, easy to clean.

The one problem with quality, open-ended toys is that they tend to also be loose-parts toys. Train tracks, blocks, play food, Lego, cars… They’re little, and they get everywhere.

I like to store everything in separate bins, easily dumped on the ground, but then easy to just chuck back together and store on the shelf. We use the Trofast storage buckets and the Expedit shelving system, both from Ikea.

Create a toy rotation.

If your kids are younger, and you feel like there’s still too many toys to have out at one time, store half of them in the “store” box out of sight. In a few months, rotate those toys back in circulation, and store the original toys. Rinse and repeat.

Kids really don’t need many clothes.

Like us, kids typically wear 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time. I constrain our kids’ clothes to small buckets, and this is more than enough. A week’s worth, more or less, works for us. And if we need anything, we either call up the grandparents or head to the thrift store. I can count on one hand the times I’ve bought kids’ clothes at a regular store.

Make clothes easy to reach.

Most of our clothes are in buckets, where the kids can just cram their items inside. Pretty much everything is 100 percent cotton, so wrinkling isn’t an issue. Because of this, we ask our children to dress themselves as early as possible, as soon as they have the physical ability.

Store clothes-in-waiting nearby.

Store clothes in the next size up somewhere easily accessible, like on the shelf above the clothing rod. Label these boxes well, and check them every few months, to see if anything needs to be moved to the current rotation.

Finish by Friday

Do your best to finish by this Friday. Post your before-and-after photos either on the blog or on the Simple Living Flickr pool, and then come to Simple Mom to link up (I’ll provide a spot on that day’s post). Spend the weekend resting, relishing in your work, and oohing and ahhing over everyone’s accomplishments as you browse the links.

This week’s giveaway

Everyone who participates in this week’s hot spot — and then links to the before-and-after photos on her blog or the Flickr pool — is automatically entered to win this week’s giveaway! As I mentioned earlier, all the prizes are tools to help further simplify your life, not more “stuff.”

Simplicity Consultant

Laura Edwards runs Simplicity Consultant, but to her, it’s more than organizing your things–to her it is a process of changing your orientation to your attachments, integrating mindfulness and fulfillment. It is an ongoing path of self-awareness.

You want less stuff, but you don’t want to go through the pain of letting it go. You already feel the resistance when you just think about sorting through and making decisions, one-by-one, of your trinkets.

Simplicity Consulting takes a different approach to organizing. Together, you focus on what you originally imagined your life to feel like. You remember your dream together. And then, with this lovely picture in mind, you gently peel away anything that doesn’t serve that vision.

Laura is giving one participant in this week’s Hot Spot two hours of Vision Mapping. This is designed to reorient the approach you have to fulfillment. Instead of focusing on externally focused goals, Laura guides you through the process of mapping out how you want your experience to be.

Laura will spend a few minutes getting to know you over Video Skype, and during the two hours, will take you through a candid and thoughtful tour of your intentions. The result will be a Vision Map that will arrive at your door that week.

Ready… Set… Go!

Alright, are you excited? I am. Set an example for your kids, and include them in Project: Simplify by helping them organize their stuff. Maybe they’ll react like Marla’s kids, who wrote her that note in the top photo. Thanks, Marla, for sharing that with me on Twitter.

I can’t wait to see all your photos this Friday.

How do you think your kids will react to this week’s hot spot? Have any tips for motivating older kids to declutter and organize?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Yay, my boys are all motivated for a garage sale we are having in 2 weeks, so I think they might be excited to do this!

  2. I figured this one was coming some time 🙂

    I love the idea of helping the kids to think about whether the things they own are useful or beautiful. Can’t wait to tackle this one.

    And that note is precious!

  3. It’s ironic that this is this week’s project. I got sidetracked last week after doing my closet and drawers the week before and moved into the kids’ rooms to clean out their stuff! I totally switched my paper clutter project to this week. Made a trip to Wal-Mart at midnight last night to make sure that I had all the things I need to get going as soon as the kids get to school Monday morning. It actually has worked out well for me as I found many random pieces of paper that I will need to address this week “hidden” in their stuff. I am so excited to tackle my nemesis this week! I actually started today by sorting my receipts into an accordian file and found $5 in Rite Aid UP rewards to spend! Thanks so much for the inspiration and motivation!

  4. Haha got a head start on this today…HUGE to give box of toys….and I haven’t even tackled the playroom….I’ve been meaning to do the clothes too…all my DD did all day was want to play with every toy I put in the box 🙁

    • This is what my kids do too! I go to clean out stuff that they have played with for some time and all of a sudden it is their favorite toy!

      • That’s why toy rotation (storing some out of sight) is great – the “forgotten” becomes a treasured toy again. Then, ALL of the toys get played with but only half at any given time.

        • Pipsqueak says:

          … and if it’s forgotten and not asked for, after a couple of months, it then rotates to the thrift store!

  5. ho boy. This one makes me want to cry. But, it’s definitely necessary. I have to admit, that I will probably not include the children through the whole process. Two of them are major hoarders if given the choice, but will never notice if the broken things are gone.

  6. Oh my…this is a good – and challenging – hot spot! I struggle with how much to involve the kids in purging what I call the effluvia of childhood (the small bits and bobs that seem to crop up around young children). I look forward both to seeing how others manage this one and to tackling it myself.

  7. This has been on my to do list for awhile now. I generally have the clothes under control. It is the toys that are out of control. We really need to end up with a big ‘giveaway” pile of toys by the end of this week. Thanks for the steps!

  8. Having moved in the last 2 months I’ve found that 2 of the 3 hot spots I’ve all ready done…and this is one of them. It felt great to go through all of their toys and clothes and get rid of things no one wore or I didn’t like and pack away those we did for the next child coming in May. I still need to go through some packed away stored boxes, but I’m waiting until I’m less emotional for that(my daughter’s things as we are having our 3rd boy and so her things won’t ever be used by us again).
    The paper clutter was dealt with as well before moving but it was amazing to see how much as built up in the 2 months we’ve been in our new house. It’s been great to clear it up again and start fresh…now to stay on top dealing with it.

  9. Help!!!! How did you know that is my next trouble spot? (Perhaps, it is not you, it is just that every corner and surface of my home is trouble!) My problem is – I am not quite done with Hot Spot#2. And every time I enter my boys’ and toddler’s room during the past week, I thought to myself, “I need to deal with this soon”. Yes, kind of overwhelmed and excited at the same time. Perhaps I should just roll up my sleeves and finishes the last box tonight and get started on this new one tomorrow!

    BTW, can I just work on my toddler’s clothing and toys this week and have the boys work with me during their spring break (1st week of Apr)? I feel like their after-school time is very limited for a decent bedtime…

    • Do whatever you need to do! There are no major “rules,” other than submitting before and after pics by this weekend to be entered for the giveaway. If that’s not as important to you, though, then just do what’s necessary for your home. 🙂

      • Thank you for your affirmation 🙂 When it comes to getting organized, I feel the need of getting guidance on how or when to get it done.

        It is actually very important for me to get their belongings together soon – we are moving our 19-month-old into her brothers’ room. It cannot happen with all the stuff they have right now.

        Thank you again for putting up this project with deadlines, otherwise, these tasks are likely to be “things I should have done yesterday” forever!

  10. This one is tough for me because my Kids aren’t kids anymore. They are both adults, but one is back at home while looking for a job & the other is half way across the country with her husband who is in the Army. I have so many containers of items they HAD to save and the time has come to get rid of some of it. My oldest who is at home, never gets rid of anything. I hope I can wrangle her for a few hours and get her to throw out & donate some of her clothing and childhood toys. We also have every paper she wrote in college, every notebook she filled in college and all her supplies from her apartment. The youngest still has huge boxes of Beanie Babies, books and trucks from when she was little. Some of this has to go so I can actually walk through the garage. I am hoping I can get my DH involved too – his side of the closet is so bad & only he can decide what he wants to keep!!!

    • Jennifer says:

      I can see a wonderful family trip down memory lane in your future. My mom and dad had my two sisters’ and my stuff stored in their basement (yeah for Midwest houses with basements) for years. Several years after my dad passed away, my mom retired and was going to relocate back to the town I grew up in. When I was in town visiting (I live in Australia) and both my sisters were home from college, she wrangled the three of us for 3 whole days and made us go through EVERYTHING. I’ve never seen a bigger garage sale pile and mess in my life, but it was soooooo much fun.

      We sat together for hours going through the trunks my mom had kept (which we didn’t even know about) with every. single. drawing/story/project we’d done. It was amazing. The stories we were able to recall and laugh and cry about was fantastic. My sisters both had about 300 Beanie Babies each, so we Googled them to see if they were worth anything (a few were) then took the rest to the local women’s shelter and passed them out to kids staying there.

      If y’all have the time, it could be a fantastic memory-reliving and memory-making experience. I get teary just thinking about when we did it (and it was 6 years ago).

    • About the college stuff, I went back to school later in life and so therefore treasured EVERYTHING. I felt that I would be able to go back and use them as I advanced my education. I had spent so much time and effort and loved every “A”. Until i realized that I had three full size filing cabinets that I was paying storage fees and they were just going to get moldy. One day after reading the Flylady I dumped it all, expect for a few pieces. I have continued to advanced my education and when I did go back to review old material, I found it, in some ways, immature and have never used any of ti.

  11. My kid’s young enough that he won’t notice (11 months), though giving a try at playing with each toy sounds like a fun activity. I’ve been wanting to put away half the toys for rotation. They’re everywhere, and he’s bored with most of them.

    If I’m lucky I’ll catch up and do my paper clutter sorting this week too. Last week was crazy. Interestingly, I DO feel re-energized, exhausted, motivated AND overwhelmed. Hurray!

  12. Every Hot Spot so far has been something I have needed/wanted to address in my home. And having a plan & a deadline has been keeping me on track–even enjoying it! This week, I need to do both toys & clothes, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…
    Thank you!!

  13. The problem with this hotspot is how often you have to organize it. My younger son is still in a new size every few months and it’s hard to keep up with the switching over of sizes. I totally agree with you about putting some toys away and then swapping them out later. Our sons get overwhelmed if there is too much stuff out and my older son loves going in the basement to pick out which toys to swap. For every toy he brings upstairs he is the one who has to decide which toy has to take its place and be put away downstairs.

    • I find that the toys we leave out get played with MORE when there are fewer other toys competing for visual stimulation. Interesting…

    • for clothes – I store my younger son’s current clothes in the top 2 drawers of a dresser, and his next size up gets put a drawer down as it comes out of storage. then I can grab something from there if i think it might fit already. I keep one of those hanging shelf units in the closet, and anything he is too big for goes on a shelf. I also shove my older son’s outgrown clothes in there. when the shelves get a bit full I have a sort out and put things in vacuum bags with a size label for my older son’s, and in a cardboard box or a bag for the baby’s things – as these are going to my cousin and are waiting for my mom to take them over to her.

  14. ~excellent!!!

    ~Anything to get rid of some toys:0)

    ~hopefully this will make up for my sad sack attempt from last week:0)

    ~Cheers Tsh x

  15. I need advice. My 4-year-old keeps everything: a rubberband from the mail, a piece of yarn from the last crochet project, and every toy, card, and piece of paper from family and preschool. She notices when things disappear, too, so culling on my own doesn’t go well. We’ve talked about kids who have less, and she will share clothes that are too small or toys that she has an exact double of, but nothing else.

    How can I teach her to be willing to let go?

    • Jennifer says:

      Get her a ‘treasure box’ (just an archive box) that she can decorate and then store all her goodies in. Then once a month have an hour of “special time” with her where she gets to go through the box and pick out 3 items to keep, and the rest go.

      There may be things (i.e Happy Meal Toys) that can be an object lesson in giving to others in need (i.e. you put it in the Goodwill bag). You might find stuff you need to recycle, so you can teach her about that. Etc, etc.

      I’d separate out the school stuff. I just took an idea from another blog (can’t remember where) and bought both kids their own archive box. Put in hanging files (only 5, since I didn’t think it was necessary to kit them out from preschool to Year 12 right now) and have been putting all their school projects and other things they make in there. Then at the end of the year the idea is to go through it all and let them pick out some (number is up to you) to keep “forever”. Then they are stored in the already-prepared box and after they graduate they have a box of all their stuff, lovingly organized.

    • I keep 1 container for ‘miscellaneous’ toys, such as the rubber bands, McD toys, etc. Once the container starts to overflow, DS (also 4 yo) has to sort through it and decide which to keep. It gives us a finite amount of space for these ‘extras’ which he values way more than I do. And because it is limited, he learns how to make a decision about which are more important than others. Plus he knows that if he makes a fit and refuses to go through the container, then I will, and he may not like the decisions I make.

  16. You know, I’ve been noticing lately that our kids keep taking things from the play room and their bedrooms to play with in other parts of the house – always a sign that those spaces are getting a little cluttered and overwhelming to them and that it is time (once again) to re-evaluate them.

    Perfect timing! 🙂

  17. i have a 7 year old hoarder… always “fun” to clean out his room. he has to keep EVERYTHING… down to the littlest scrap of paper. should be an interesting week :)! i also know that once his room is back to “normal” he sleeps SO much better and has such an easier time focusing on homework. have fun everyone!!!

  18. Britanie says:

    I feel like I have done an excellent job on keeping up with clutter. I’m not super organizer or anything I just don’t buy that much stuff. 🙂 Honestly I can’t afford too. I also get all my son’s clothes from thrift stores. I can’t see spending loads of money on something that he is quickly going to either grow out of or destroy. As for my clothes, if i don’t absolutely LOVE something I don’t spend money on it. Toys are not really an issue as my son is only 9 months old and doesn’t have many toys yet.

  19. Perfect. Finally a “hot spot” that I kind of have under control. The last two have been overwhelming!
    I actually only finished part #1 of last week. I still have more to do for paper clutter 🙂

  20. Our youngest child left home last summer, so I think I’ll focus my energy on MY toys this week! I doubt I can get it all done in one week, but I can sure make some progress in there. Craft room, here I come!!!

  21. My kiddo is a one year old. So I won’t be expecting any help from her on this project!!! Which, might actually make it easier since I’m the only one whose opinion will need to be taken into account! We do plan to have more kids and I have been storing clothes that don’t fit her as she grows out of them. But, as you said, kids really don’t wear the majority of the clothes they have. So perhaps I’ll start weeding through clothes that fit now, but aren’t weather appropriate etc. and store them or give some away. And I have been meaning to do the toy rotation thing, so I guess now is the time! We have seriously only bought our baby girl maybe one or two toys, but we’ve been given so many hand-me-downs and toys as gifts that she has way more toys than she’d know what to do with!

  22. My friends & I are thoroughly enjoying Project Simplify! I couldn’t wait to check your site to see the Hot Spot of the week! Looking forward to another week of decluttering! Thanks so much!!

  23. I actually was inspired by our other hot spots to work on this one this weekend. I am a little bummed because I didnt take any pics! I should have known..argh! 🙂 I am loving both the decluttered toys AND the closet that is MUCH easier to get into. Hubby loved me this weekend and I was out of pocket and he had no trouble dressing three little ones 🙂 I plan to post some things I learned from my adventures later this week!

  24. You have no idea how GIDDY I am that you picked a Hot Spot that I ALREADY CONQUERED!!! (My paper pile is mocking me as I type.)

  25. I am very excited about this one! I actually started doing this after my closet and drawers because my paper clutter had been taken care of previously 🙂

    I am so thrilled about taking a huge load of clothes to the consignment shop this week. Woot!

  26. I organized my daughter’s art supplies by purging some of her toys this weekend. So, I have a post all ready for this:-)

  27. You’re making it easy on me this week! I have a great system for clothes – one that has impressed many a friend. 😉

    I have three boys, so I can easily pass on clothes. I store them separated by size and rotate out as needed. It’s easy to keep up with, and I can tell in a few minutes what I have and what I need.

    We also have an easy system for toys…I’ll tell you all about it at the end of the week. 🙂

  28. I am both thrilled and terrified by this hot spot at the same time 😀

  29. This is a good one this week. I needed to get things ready for a consignment sale this week. I am only going to tackle the clothes. Our 9 yo daughter already resents the Simply Organized book! She doesn’t like the idea of having to get rid of things!

    Really could the pantry be next week? That would be awesome.

  30. Hi Tsh, this is SUCH a great series.
    I’m not doing the photos…for a ridiculous reason: I have a “new” computer (my husband is in IT and I get upgraded occasionally with “newer” computers that don’t have all my software…so here I am with no means to upload new photos.
    HOWEVER, I am participating…just in an all-over-the-place manner. I did our toys last month (and donated 5 huge garbage bags of toys) and it has been great for us. I did the grownup closets at the same time as your post. My husband and I began our mission statement/statement of purpose, but are still working on it. We started up family meetings, based around paying out chore money. We’re keeping it short, but the kiddos are little.
    I’m not quite done with my paper-processing, but my system is in place and the only paper left needs to be filed or acted on. This week, I’ll be doing that along with my kiddos clothes, but the big project will be their BOOKS! They’ve gotten a bit disorganized and there are some that are not keepsakes and are also not getting use, so we’ll be weeding out. We get most of their books as gifts and do regular trips to the library. Will bookshelves be part of the series? Our grownup bookshelves are in need of a little sprucing up. Our kitchen needs a little pruning as well. Oh, and there’s the organizing of the art supplies…and the laundry room…and the giftwrap…ha! Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. We are having a yard sale in a few weeks and are tagging as we go on this process. My two oldest (6 and 5) are excited. We have combined the Dave Ramsey process along with our Simplification process. So, all of the kids’ items (clothes, toys, etc.) are being tagged with their initials. Whatever sells will be their money to go into their Save, Spend and Give envelopes. This has really motivated to get all of this work done for the yard sale so they can see the fruit of their labors!

  32. Since I’m not a mom yet, I’ll be using this week to finish up the first two projects – and see if I can get a jump on the rest of the housework! =)

  33. I am feeling really good about Project Simplify. Mostly because I am fiding that each week, I have done the specific area already. Yay me!

    I just did our daughter’s clothes because her birthday is in two weeks and she is moving up to a 5T, so I have gotten rid of most of her 4T stuff. It’s very refreshing to see the winter stuff go bye bye. 😀

    Toys, that’s another thing I need to go to. Each year, I’ve been buying her less and less toys, because she doesn’t play with most of them. I am gonna do her toys tonight. Let’s see what I can stream down a bit.

  34. Am I the World’s Worst Mom that I paid my kids to get rid of some toys? Oh, I don’t care if I am.
    A dollar a toy-
    They resisted giving old toys forever until I did, then in the span of 5 min. I had 10 toys in my hand to donate. Go figure. None of it was good stuff, so it’s gone. Gone, daddy, Gone.

  35. Well, I don’t have children, but I do have a husband that I will not allow in the master bedroom walk-in closet. Why, you ask? Because he uses wire hangers! So instead of dealing with toys and kid clothes I’ll clean his closet and drawers (in the guest room). While I’m at it I think I will organize his 11-month-old-100-pound German Shepard puppy’s toys and stuff. Geesh…there’s a lot of that stuff laying around. Plus all the stuff from 3 cats. (And here I thought I was going to have an easy week – ha!)

  36. I just found your blog through Lisa Leonard and boy, do I need a push in the decluttering dept! I went through our 2DS’s clothes a month ago, before we went away on holidays as I had to dig out the summer clothes that they hadn’t worn in 5 months.

    Here is my favourite tip for purging kids clothes. My boys always hate having to try on lots of clothes so I pick out a shirt and pair of pants that I know still fits them well, especially in the length and I lay the garments on the floor or bed; I then lay the other garments one at a time on top, matching the neck, shoulders, sleeve length and hem. It is a quick way to acurately weed out the outgrown or the to grow into items without the pleading, nagging, and when the are younger, the down right wrestling match that is trying on clothes. I still end up with a pile of unsure of clothing that I then get them to try on, but it is a much smaller and easier to cope with pile than having to go through everything with them.

    Now I need to go back to your previous posts and catch up! Can’t wait to see more.

  37. I JUST went through the storage bins in my son’s room LAST NIGHT. We need to tackle the toys, but in reality, he doesn’t have that much to get rid of. He plays with the majority of toys that we have in his room, however there are toys that could stand to be gotten rid of. I actually have a good system for his clothes and toys (and my storage system is Trofast and the cloth cubes from Target too!)

  38. I had to laugh, again, when I saw this week’s Hot Spot because I swear it seems like you looked inside my house to pick these spots. Every week has been a place in my house that really needed decluttering!!! Hahaha!

  39. I would love some toy organization advice! We have a very up-and-down house. It’s not a large house, but we have 3 levels (bedrooms upstairs, main level w/ kitchen & living room, and a finished basement (sort of a family room/playroom). I have tried to keep all the toys in the basement/playroom, but the kids always want to migrate the toys to the (smallish)living room and kitchen, I’m guessing because that’s where I am and there’s more natural light on that level, too. I would love any thoughts/ideas. Thanks!

    • I’d do smaller baskets throughout the house, where you were okay with the kids playing. We keep a small basket of baby toys in our living room, even though our place is tiny. Just my $.02.

  40. We were finally able to do a huge sort of our sons’ toys a month ago. They were adopted from Ethiopia a year ago and were in their first experience of actually having anything that was completely “theirs.” After a year we finally decided they were ready for letting go of a little. We ended up cleaning out anything from the plastic packaging toys came in to the Christmas wrapping paper from when they first got here (now 2 Christmases ago – wow – look at the time!). They were even able to let go of a few broken toys. Do the clean out WITH the kids – it really is an important life lesson.

  41. Pat Kleinmaier says:

    No kids at home anymore so I guess I will work on my play area (sewing room) and maybe get my big kid (husband) to work on his play room too…(the old work bench in the basement that holds the tools). He didn’t do too well with the paper project. But I emptied a box of his papers from 1995 and he didn’t know it. tee hee

  42. The toy rotation is such a big thing, if you have an abundance of toys. If they are younger they won’t remember much, and it is like Christmas and birthdays several times throughout the year!

  43. I’m so glad it’s toys, as my kids are (mostly) past this stage, unless you count Polly Pocket World in the family room. It gives me a chance to work more on the previous hot spots. Phew.

  44. This makes me smile- my son decided to start collecting things of his for a garage sale he wants to put on. =) He must have known what the next hot spot was! Good choice on the spot as this is one on the list for awhile!

  45. I always did this as a child with my mom (and then on my own as a teen). It was easy, normal, and definitely something I want to do with my future children. Maybe I’ll go through my grown up toys this week? I’m sure I could donate some craft supplies, books, and movies.

  46. I’m tackling this right now. Already have lots of baby toys in a closet, ready to be given to a friend who has a daycare. I don’t usually buy brand new toys, but the kids receive so many as gifts! We must have at least 10 toys that teaches the alphabet; result: my son is 3 1/2 and recognizes the 26 letters, even in handwriting sometimes. Gotta cut back on those too-educational toys!

    Clothes are organized, but I still have too much. And I have been thinking about making that list of what I will need to buy my older son for the next season. His little brother is all set with hand-me-downs, all organized in diaper boxes.

    So thanks for the nice opportunity!

  47. I just went through the girls clothes drawers this weekend. It was time to weed out the too small and unwanted clothes and get ready for a new season. I did the baby’s drawer first, she just needed her clothes moved from my room to her new drawer in the girls dresser. Then I moved on to my three year old, almost everything left her drawer and went in the store or give away piles. Then I went to the 5 year old’s drawers, she was able to keep about half of her stuff and the rest either went in the giveaway pile or the three year old’s drawer. Next I made a list of the things we were going to need to get soon. I told my husband which child was going to “break the bank” and then we went off on a family trip to see what we could find for the girls off my list. We were able to get almost everything. When we returned home I put the give away clothes in a bag out in the garage and folded and sorted the clothes that were left and put them in the proper storage boxes. I generally keep about 7-8 days supply of clothes for my kids, so far they only need one drawer to keep it in and we have to do laundry so they can have clean clothes to wear.

    As for the toy monster, we only have a handful of toys in each kids room right now, because our home is on the market and it is much easier to only have a few toys to clean up after playtime than a whole roomful.

  48. I am so excited about this project. My son’s clothing gets culled through quite often, as we have friends who have boys, and appreciate the hand-me-downs (I always give them the option to refuse them if they don’t want the clothes). Toys got pared down about 6 months ago and it well past time to do it again. I am very excited for this project. I will probably do it without my son’s help, and then hang onto the toys for a while just in case he really misses something, unless it is something he’s truly outgrown.

  49. I just went through and reorganized all my daughter’s toys when we redid her floors after Christmas, but it’s been months since doing her clothes, so I think I’ll tackle that one with her. Unfortunately, it is true that the items I most want to keep will probably not be the same as hers…

  50. I don’t have ‘little’ kids yet so I guess this week I will try and pick up and organize my big ‘kid’ of a husband’s “toys” (aka the computer games, console games, and other misc computer stuff). Maybe this week I’ll even finish updating my home inventory…

  51. This is SO great, especially since my son school’s is having a yard sale in the next few weeks. I’ve only been working for an hour and have an enormous pile already.


    I just ran across a HUGE pile of cloth diapers. Just plain old Chinese prefold diapers–nothing fancy. I think I have too many to keep for cleaning purposes. Any ideas?

    And what about diaper covers? I think mine are probably obsolete given the cute stuff that’s available now. Do people want those? Or are they throwaways?

    • Keep your eyes peeled – there’s a store in our area (Tiny Bird in Round Rock, TX) that has a basket to drop used prefolds, etc. What’s in the basket is then available to anyone for free. It helps make cloth diapers accessible to those who may not have the money at once to outfit a full stash. Something like this might be a good option if you think yours wouldn’t sell against all the new styles. Also, ask around – we used prefolds and I had a few requests from people to save them a few for cleaning. You never know who might want 2 or 3.

    • Diaper Swappers is also a good place to sell diapers.

  52. I LOVE rotating toys – I think 2/3 of our toys are boxed in the basement to be brought out at request or when mama is ready! It makes the playroom such a nicer place to be.

    I’ve actually just gone through my kids’ closets and toys and sorted out what to get rid of and what to save for the next one. I could cut down on the number of items in some categories (t-shirts and sweaters, for example).

    Since my kids are ages 6, 4 and 2, I haven’t included them so far, just done it when they weren’t around if I thought they’d care (like with the paper clutter), but soon I’ll need to explain why we can’t keep every little last thing. I like the idea of giving them a container/box that they can keep things in and then they have to sort it when it gets full.

    Oh, and, as this comment already wasn’t too long, I’m finishing up my paper clutter today with the filing of a few documents we need to keep and starting a box to keep kids’ papers in!! I’m loving this series – it fits perfectly with my 35 week nesting!

  53. Hmmmm…I’m following your Project: Simplify, but I don’t have children. Just a husband with an addiction to computers/gadgets, and myself who is addicted to crafting. I guess we’ll have to tackle our own “toys” instead, huh?

  54. Hahaha!!! I had to chuckle when I read this challenge: You read my mind… the thing I have been avoiding all summer!!! Our clothes are sorted. Our toys are really sorted… but each kidlet has a drawer or a shelf allocated for stuff – treasures and these have simply exploded because I haven’t gone through them consistently… My kids are pretty good at decluttering ( but they do need an encouraging hand to keep them going till the job is actually done – just like us I guess!!!

  55. It’s almost not a good time for me. It’s still too cold to put away all the cold weather clothes (which is when I normally go through all the clothes), and break out the warm weather clothes. I keep them separated by season and size, though my sons clothes aren’t as organized as they should be. I have boxes of clothes in the basement, usually the bigger sized hand me downs my sister in law gives me for the kids. They all need to be sorted again I suppose, it just feels too early to do it. Toys though…I can always go through the toys. I don’t even buy that many toys but it seems like their toys collect and grow somehow. Probably won’t do it with the kids…I’ll probably take advantage of my 4 year old being in preschool. I really do like the idea of rotating toys, I just never get around to, although they do enjoy going to the basement and finding the boxes of toys I store there.

  56. ugghh! This hot spot officially stinks for me. I’ve struggled with this for the last 4 years. Here’s my issue… my children will spend hours creating a fort in some part of my house, they will collect toys from every different type of container to serve some alternative purpose in that fort. If i made them start over and completely clean up everyday, they wouldn’t have time to play! (the 2nd graders anyway) Anyone else deal with this issue at their house? i’ve even tried making a special dress up area (which has been used this week as an orphaned kitty hotel). I’d love suggestions! 🙂

    • My daughter does the same thing. She’s only 5, but she loves to grab 2 (or 10) of each type of toy to include in whatever she’s doing, and setting up elaborate situations. Sometimes she makes a long line of items which she’d call a “collection” of every single item in the house that is 1 inch big, etc. Here are some of things that have helped me (doesn’t solve the problem, but helps me deal with it)

      1. Setting a limit on the amount of time or number of days a fort or other structure/set up is up and giving her a heads up as to when it will need to come down. This could vary depending on the situation and location.
      2. Gathering everything together in a laundry basket or some other large container at the end of the day or set time period and having my daughter organize them back up in to their proper bins at that time. Somehow it seems less overwhelming this way.
      3. Limiting the number of toys available at any given time to begin with.
      4. Storing/organizing virtually all toys behind closet doors (as opposed to out in view in her room or living room)…so at least if there is an eye-sore fort out for a few days, the rest of the place doesn’t have to be cluttered-looking too.
      5. Remembering that most of the fun comes in the building and collecting – they will live to build another day – and taking joy in the fact they are using their imaginations.

  57. For those of you who don’t have kids at home — yes! Absolutely do your own “toys.” Great idea.

  58. I just did kids clothes last week as I had to dig out some short sleeves for my younger daughter. I think tackling the toys w/ the kiddos will be a great idea. I tend to keep a pretty good handle on toy clutter overall. So this will be my first experimant to see if my 3 y/o will actually be willing to get rid of anything. (I am afraid she might have her daddy’d packrat tendencies) FOrtunately since we aren’t over flowing w/ toys. it will be OK if only a few things go. I have to sort through all of my stuff I have set aside to donate and for a Mom swap in a couple of weeks. I can kind of plant the “give away” seeds while I do that and see how it goes. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

  59. Love it! I just moved into a new apartment and am slowly going through all my childhood stuff that I’ve saved over the years. I keep reminding myself that I don’t need a hundred memories of my childhood captured in things, just a couple. I’m also running into the issue of not wanting to throw things away but give stuff away to the perfect people, or wait until spring time to have a garage sale!

  60. rotate toys- yesyesyes- gotta do this- the little ones are awful with dumping stuff out!

  61. I need help! We only have a two year old and tons of clothes (I have yet to buy any of them though). They are all gifts from aunts, grandparents and hand me downs from friends. So far she is only kiddo but we are hoping/trying for more!

    I have been keeping all of her clothes that she outgrows (unless they are stained or damaged) in case we can use them again for our next child. I am starting to feel like a hoarder though, bc what if our next child is a boy, or they don’t fit during the right season? I have boxes of clothes just sitting in the basement waiting and who knows if they will ever be used by our family again?

    How do you know what to hold onto and what to give away? It feels so wasteful holding onto clothes “just in case”…

    • Cori, I had the same problem, but I eventually realized I can’t keep keeping a 3 year old boys and a 2 year old girls clothes forever, whether or not we have more kids. I have been consigning clothes for a year now. I’d suggest you check it out!

  62. Thank you so much for the giveaway with Kristen at We are that Family blog. I was one of the lucky winners of your book, Organized Simplicity. One of my 30 before 30 goals is to get more organized and I’m sure this will help out tons! Thanks again!

  63. My 4 year old never wants to get rid of anything, but I tried for a stuffed animal purge just now (overflowing thanks to well-meaning family and friends), and he actually threw in an entire garbage bag full. Hooray!

  64. What great advice! I need this so bad ~ you have no idea. I really am into simplifying and enjoy all of the advice in the articles of your blog ~ so, thank you!

    For this reason, I’ve awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award! If you would like to accept the award, just hop over to my blog and take it!


  65. I have so much to do still and an feeling overwhelmed. However, what I have realized (and I think this mind-shift is critical) is that we just have too much stuff. Sounds simple, but if we had less, these tasks would be much less daunting.

  66. Okay, I missed paper clutter week while we were on vacation but am completely committed to handling it. Here is my question for my toy/clothing declutter – my issue isn’t purging but the getting it OUT of the house – to goodwill or selling or to the used bookstore or to the people I am handing down items – you get the drift. And that part makes me crazy because it becomes open ended, and adds to the clutter near the back door, near the stairs, etc. Any suggestions for those of us who don’t finish strong? 🙂 Thanks!

  67. Wonderful blog! For sure parents would relate about it and this will had a big help for them to practice their children how to manage and organize things. thanks for posting1

  68. Norma Fay says:

    We just finished shopping for summer clothes at Burlington after cleaning out our closets. They had great deals, so we saved a lot of money on our new wardrobes.

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