Clutter Cleanup

Have toys coming out of your ears? Find easy ways to sort your child's stuff and what to do with the things you no longer need.

How to Downsize

Now that the holidays are over, there are probably lots of new toys and books adding to the clutter in your playroom. This is the perfect time to sort through your kid's stuff and donate what you don't need to charity. To make life easier, recruit your child to help you get organized. Start by weeding out gear and toys that are no longer age-appropriate. (Start a "toss" pile, and a "donate" one for more gently used items.) Then lay out the rest of his toys and have your child pick out his favorites -- and decide what can go. He might not be too excited to part with his possessions at first, but if you explain how he'll be helping less-fortunate kids -- who might not have any toys -- he'll start to get it. He can help you put everything back (hey, there's room for all my stuff now!) and come along when you deliver your gear to a local shelter or organization. You'll both feel good about helping others -- and about starting the year off with a clean house.

Condition Clues

Most charities have their own rules about what kinds of items they accept, but there are some general guidelines. Use this clip-and-save scale.

Good Condition -- Give

  • like new
  • minor wear
  • usable
  • some wear
  • slightly stained or scratched
  • needs minor repairs

Bad Condition -- Toss

  • significant wear
  • cracked or torn
  • fails to meet current safety standards
  • broken

Still not sure? Here's a good guideline: If you wouldn't give it to your best friend or neighbor as a hand-me-down, it's got to go.

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the January 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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