It’s a few weeks into summer, the rug rats are bored, the house is a mess and you still haven’t cleaned out the backpacks since school ended. Well… maybe it’s time to rally the troops, give idle hands and minds something to do and get yourselves organized. Don’t underestimate them! Little ones like to help and older ones can be incentivized. Here are some “cool” projects for these hot summer months. (Click the pic to watch the video!)
School Papers & Art: Start with what’s left over from the school year – the papers, drawings, homework and spelling quizzes, notes from the teacher and all that. Clear out the backpacks, all the crumbs and broken pens. If your kid is finally over Frozen or Turtles, donate that backpack. Papers and drawings can be stored in an appropriately- sized plastic stacking bin or maybe a three-ring binder (see video). Never keep food-based art! That means no macaroni art, no glued on Cheerios, and no paper maché, which is basically flour and water. Take photos of the bulky stuff and let it go. This isn’t about getting rid of those sweet creations willy nilly but about realizing that as the years go on it will be harder and harder to enjoy them as the bulk builds (and builds and builds).
Make your motto “The fewer you keep, the more special each piece becomes.” (I wish I could take credit for this one)
Craft Areas: Trash the random bits and don’t feel guilty about it! Corral the explosion of beads, markers, glitter, glue sticks and such into bins or Ziplocs so they’re easy to use and put away again. I like The Container Store’s shoe boxes in all sizes, because they’re translucent, modular, stackable and fit nicely in an IKEA Billy Bookcase. Even the littlest cutie pies can check for dried up makers and pens and sort colored thingamajiggies, like with like.
Games & Puzzles: Donate stuff your kids have grown out of. If they’re missing pieces or are in rough shape, go ahead and recycle them. (Remember, they’re essentially just ink on cardboard – games, not kids).
Books & Movies: Books can easily find a new home if your kids have outgrown them or just aren’t interested. Pick out a few that your kids DO love and read them over the summer. Unless you have the complete Disney collection, you can probably find most movies on Netflix, so consider boldly editing that pile in the family room.
Sports Equipment: Flat balls, popped pool floaties, sports our kids aren’t doing next year… sort it into organized bins for summer activities and assign locations for seasonal equipment so it’s not a jumbled mess all year long.
Hang Out Areas: The play room, family room, bedrooms – wherever kids spend time, there’s probably an opportunity to tidy something up. Look in drawers, cabinets and between seat cushions and don’t be surprised if you discover the missing pieces of that puzzle you gave up on.
Competition between siblings is an age-old motivator. I encourage you to exploit it fully.
Define the task by giving kids a certain number of items each day for them to donate or toss. Really, they know what they like and use. Have them do a sock drawer one day, undies the next, toy box another. Make it a race to fill a donation box or trash bag… Give them a measure and a specific task, not just “organize your toys” and they can do it!
Reward them with non-cluttering activity gifts, like a movie night, mini-golf, donate three books and get a new one, have a sleepover party once the house is picked up… Get creative and have fun!
Let kids choose a charity for the family to support: year round and special events/holidays. For example, Youth on Their Own, Toys for Tots, Stuff the Bus and Casa de Los Niños all serve kids in our community.
Things we can do to plan ahead for an organized school year!
Make a “Go Bag”: a bag of things you take to the park or the pool over the summer – a bag that is always full of what you need so you can just grab it and GO, easily transforms into a sports bag or afterschool activity bag. Add a laminated tag so kids know what should be in it at all times.
Create a Rotating Art Gallery: My FAVORITE way to showcase and rotate artistic creations all year long. Mount frames on the wall with wire or clothes pins to display art and change them out every month. LOVE this! Pinterest is chock full of ideas.
Make Donating a Habit: That’s it. Simple, really.
Enjoy your summer if you need any help, give me a call! Remember, kids look to their grownups to show them how to value and care for their possessions. If we keep giving kids more stuff than they will ever use and more than they can even enjoy, we do them a disservice. If you aren’t inherently organized yourself (I’m not talking perfection, just things having places), get a little help and you can learn together as a family.
Get organized this summer so you can play more, enjoy more and have fun doing it too. Before school starts. EEK!