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5 Ways to Win the War on Clutter

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“Where, oh where, did my tennis shoe go?” Has this tune become your kid’s national anthem? Is living with her belongings strewn under the beds and between the sofa cushions causing you to attack and retreat? If so, the time has come to round up the forces and chart a new course. Surprisingly, winning the war on clutter is not as challenging as you might think.

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By Patricia Smith

“Where, oh where, did my tennis shoe go?” Has this tune become your kid’s national anthem? Is living with her belongings strewn under beds and between sofa cushions causing you to attack and retreat? If so, the time has come to round up the forces and chart a new course. Surprisingly, winning the war on clutter is not as challenging as you might think.

Take it from professional organizer Karen Fritscher-Porter. Yelling at the kids to pick up their toys, shirts, socks, and schoolbooks isn’t the answer. Kids are pros at turning a deaf ear when it comes to cleaning up. Give them a reason to believe there’s fun involved and you’ve got buy-in. With time and patience, you can transform your home from so-so to shipshape. Read on for a few tricks of the trade.

Set Ground Rules

Mobilize the troops and lay down the law. Every item must have a home; discard old items to make room for new ones. If hordes of stuffed lions and tigers run rampant on your child’s bed, let her choose one or two favorites. The rest should go to a nonprofit so that kids less fortunate can enjoy them.

Color-Code the Kids

Crates, containers, and closet organizers come in a rainbow of colors. If you have several kids, go shopping for storage supplies and let each child choose a color for herself. Even with just one kid, you can use colors to organize types of items: red bins for fire trucks, puzzles, and crayons; pink for Barbie dolls, swim fins, and dress-up clothes. Don’t forget desk organizers and hangers for the closets.

Bring on the Fun

Make it easy for the kids to remember what goes where. Let them design their own labels. They can either write or draw a picture identifying the contents. Attach labels to containers with clear packaging tape. Laundry bins could go under a kid-sized basketball hoop; CDs might be stored in holders resembling ladybugs. The possibilities are endless!

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Create a Mini Museum

Stacks of paintings, drawings, and paperwork stifle desks and homework spaces. Get rid of the mess by framing a few pieces of your kid’s favorite artwork to hang up. Kids love displaying their creativity. Add a corkboard to showcase birthday cards, postcards, buttons, and photos.

Once Is Not Enough

Keeping everything in its place goes a long way toward keeping a tidy household. Designate a cleanup day once a month (and label it clearly on your neatly organized calendar) and your kids will develop good housekeeping habits that will serve them well—all the way into adulthood.

Need some help with your child’s studying area? Click here for the lowdown!

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