Start by spending time with your child and have them try on all of their clothes. Children grow so fast that it may be discouraging to see that something you got for a Christmas gift no longer fits. But there's no sense keeping something that will never fit again. Don't forget shoes, socks, underwear, and jackets. Collect outgrown clothing in a bag, make a list, and donate the outgrown items to a charity.
Next, put together outfits by coordinating colors and patterns. If some shorts fit great, be sure there are a couple of shirts that match.
Help your child make a "to buy" list of the items needed in the right colors colors and sizes. If you have time, why not add more shelving or hanging poles in the closets before you put things back? If you're really ambitious, how about a total closet makeover, with shelves, drawers, lighting and hanging bars?
Your child can:
- Try on clothing.
- Make outfits.
- Fold and sort clothing by category -- shorts, tank tops, white socks, etc.
- Replace neat piles onto shelves or bins in the closet.
- Help take outgrown clothing to a charity drop-off location.
Sort Through the Toys
Is your child's room overflowing with toys? Serious sorting might be in order.
Begin by getting out all the toys. They'll think this is fun. Put everything into the middle of the room. Make piles! What's old or outgrown? Put any unneeded items in a bag for charity.
What's indispensible? Do you have room to get it in order. If not, think about building extra shelving or adding boxes or other storage to a closet. If there are a lot of things that your child just cannot part with, you might need to use every inch of space in the room to find a place to put them.
Once your child has decided what stays, evaluate how the remaining items can be stored. Purchase storage boxes, baskets, or free-standing shelves. Or put a basic chest of drawers in the closet for games, doll clothes, or craft supplies.
Be sure to label all boxes, and put like items in each box. Keep paints separated from doll clothes, or cars from tea sets. You'll find that it's much easier for your child to put things away if everything has a home and is well labeled.
Your child can:
- Select broken toys to toss or fix.
- Pick out unused toys to give away.
- Locate parts and pieces that belong together and sort them into containers.
- Store like items together (games, Legos, doll clothes, and so on).
Get Books and Papers Under Control.Get the Books Onto Shelves
Can you really ever have too many books? Some children's books are real treasures, with memories of quiet "read-alouds". These are books you will definitely want to keep. But there might be some titles that have no sentimental value.
Collect the books that don't need to be saved. Some may just be too immature for your child. Collect the give-aways in a bag and donate ones in good condition to a nursery school, library, or child care center. Treasured "keepers" can be put out of reach or packed away.
Put the books that your child still reads and wants onto bookshelves for easy access. Decide how they'll be sorted, either by author, story, or title.
Your child can:
- Decide which books to keep.
- Sort the books alphabetically by title or author.
- Decide where to put them on shelves for reading later.
- Choose his or her favorite day care center or library to receive the reject books.
- Sort and Organize All the Paperwork
I'll bet you can't bear to throw away even one paper that your child brought home from school. If your child is past 1st grade, that's really a lot of paper!
Choose a color for each child. Buy pocket folders and make labels for each one. Label one folder for each school year (Sara: Grade 1, Anne: Grade 2, and so on).
Use these colored folders to store the most wonderful artwork, A+ papers, school announcements and program notes that you have collected. They may not seem to be the work of a genius, but you'll be happy to have them after only a couple of years when you want to go down memory lane!
Your child can:
- Go through school papers and choose favorites to keep.
- Put all papers from one year in the appropriate file folder.
- Using photos or a special paper, create a cover page for each year's folder.
- Be sure to add pictures of their school, the teacher, best friends, sporting activities, awards, and plays. Remember artwork, and even computer disks with copies of pictures, poems, or essays they've written.
Once you and your children have gotten everything organized, you'll all be surprised how much more fun your time together is. If you have a chance to do something on short notice, they'll know just what clothes to wear. When you have time to read a favorite book, you'll know right where it is. And when you want to look back on the fun school years past, the papers and photos will be in the right place! Have fun!