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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Simplify Sunday 4/18 - Decluttering Kids' Rooms

Debby McCuiston, self-proclaimed "Queen of Clutter-Free", does a segment for us each Sunday on simplifying our lives, getting rid of "clutter", and focusing on what's important.  We're love this uplifting weekly segment - and hope you do too!  Take it away Debby...

Hope you all have had time to play in your yard this week. Our weather has been beautiful. It's still a little cool in the evening which makes it great to walk or just sit outside and make plans for the coming months. We have made more trips to the garden center at Lowe's and Walmart than I care to mention. When the workers know you by name, that is a sure sign you are there way too much.  But the end results will be worth it all. (With all this exercise and sweating in public, I better see some results when I weigh in at Weight Watchers!)

This week let's make a plan to work through our kids' stuff. This will be a great rainy day job. If you do not have any children in your life right now, look around, there may be an overwhelmed mom that could use your help.
This may be one of the hardest jobs you will do. I can remember something special about every toy my children played with. I am the parent that saved all of their stuffed animals and could tell you who gave them each one. You can imagine how upset I was when I realized that most of these stuffed friends had become a great winter home for all the cold little rats that lived in the woods behind our house. As I was going through the carefully packed bags and seeing the bits of fur and stuffing, I was able to get rid of each bag as I quickly became aware of the fact that the rat family could still be on their winter vacation in those bags. Toss or burn became the question at that moment! I did find a few things that were worth saving so they got a spin in the washing machine. But stuffed toys that old (at least 26 yrs) do not survive the wash very well. So a second wave of tossing the toys came to a sad end. I did save 1 or 2 for each child to pass on to their children someday. Going through the toys got easier as I realized that I will be the first to buy all the latest and greatest for my grandkids. If the toys weren't handmade or didn't hold VERY special memories, out they went. (Our Goodwill store loves it when we get on a decluttering roll!)

If it really gets hard to get rid of some of their toys, take a picture of the item. This helps because you will be able to save the memories in a scrap book (another rainy day project).  Get rid of all the "happy meal" toys and all the little pieces that fall to the bottom of the toy box. If you can't figure out where to put it -- toss it.
Now that you have gotten rid of the clutter, it's time to organize what is left. Let's take a few minutes and make a plan. (You knew that's what I would say!) If you are lucky enough to have a playroom space for your children--you are blessed.  If you will need to plan on storing you child's toys in their bedroom, remember you can't hang everything from the ceiling.
If you have a large closet you maybe able to store some of the seldom played-with items in there. As you make plans, take into account the age of your children and always keep safety in mind.
While thinking about what to do with all of the toys, keep in mind the more you can put up and out of site to bigger the space will feel. We have a 9 cubbie shelving system that we bought at Target. In 6 of the cubbies I have baskets and the top 3 I have placed their books. I love this because you can label each basket with it's contents. For awhile the labels are for you, but when they get a little older they will know where to put their toys. Make them a part of the picking up, so they understand how to do it and where you want things put. Children learn by example, they will do what you teach them to do.

Whatever system you use, make sure it is age appropriate and easy for the little ones to use. Put like items away together, etc. all the building blocks together. Keep the books all in one spot, up and off the floor. This will help the children understand the importance of books. At our house we have stressed the fact that books are our friends and they are to be treated like that. I keep the hardback books for the toddlers seperate from the "big kid" books. It is easier for toodlers to place them back in a basket than on a shelf.
Many people that have their children pick a toy to give away when they receive a new toy. (We might want to make this a household rule, use it on your clothes and shoes!)  Taking the time to teach them to take care of and to put their toys away, teaches them to respect all the things that God has blessed them with. I think we also teach them to respect others when we take care of something that a friend has given us and spent their hard earned money on.

Let's expand this idea of taking care of our things as if they were our friends. I wouldn't leave friends laying around outside in the weather, or leave them on the floor to be stepped on.  Nothing can hurt someone's feelings as fast as finding something they gave us was tossed in the corner, or not honored by being taken care of. If it is something you can't use or want, pass it on.
Remember that the people that God brings into our lives need to be treated as well as we treat our stuff. He brings them along for us to enjoy, learn from, or minister to. They are there for a season. Some are there through our growing years and some are there to see us through to the end. Take some time to spend with each of these often. They all are there for a reason. They are not to be tossed aside when we are tired of them or left to find their way on their own. Take care of these relationships. Sometimes we have to go through the friends we have collected and decide where to place them--is it time to let them go or dust them off and rekindle a lost friendship. Let God lead and He will let you know when and how to grow that friendship. Remember what our moms told us--"Treat others the same way you would like to be treated."  Not "Treat them like they are treating you"!!!  Sometimes they are not in our life for our enjoyment but to be ministered to by us. Enjoy these seasons of your lives. They are ever-changing and getting better each year.

Hope to hear from you!

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