Part of me was excited, and part of me was afraid. And part of me just wanted to pull the sheets over my head and forget I’d decided to finally get my house organized and hopefully decluttered. But regardless of how I was feeling, Tina Blazer of Spot On Organizing and her assistant arrived at my house bright and early to get the job started. Blazer had suggested we’d need a fourth pair of hands — I chose not to believe this was because my house was extra-disorganized, so I conned my dear friend Nance into helping us, while my husband took the kids out for the day.
STAGE ONE: THE BASEMENT/PLAY AREA
• Plastic storage bins of varying sizes, from Solutions Store and Canadian Tire (prices vary by size, but most should be well under $25)
• IKEA FRAKTA shopping bags, medium (59¢ each)
• Garbage bags (recommend: heavy-duty — the kind contractors use)
Category one: Kids’ Artwork
I have been storing piles and piles of kids’ paintings, drawings and crafts like many other parents I know (though not all of them — some of my friends scoff at the fact that I refuse to throw away any of the kids’ creations). And I use the term “store” loosely, because the reality is these precious pieces of art are taking over our lives. What on earth am I supposed to do with them, I asked Blazer, if not keep them until they crumble? Cull and curate, she said. It’s truly not necessary to keep every single thing the kids have ever made. Instead, make piles of the keepers and recycle the rejects — sorry, kids, guess this is me finally becoming a Tiger Mother! — and store everything in flat, clear storage bins, one for each child.
Pro tip: Make your kids feel special (even though you tossed out some of their artwork) by purchasing art portfolios to store their drawings and paintings. This means they can easily flip through and view the art whenever the mood strikes — which will probably never happen, as you are the only person who cares about your child’s art.
Category two: Clothes
I’ve been holding onto baby clothes, since the jury is still out on whether we’re going to have a third child. Blazer explained that those clothes still need to be properly stored, so that they can quickly be brought back into action if necessary, or easily accessed — in good condition, and organized by age and sex — if the decision is made to pass them along to someone else (incl. charity). We used clear, stackable storage bins for this. I got rid of stained or damaged items, and set aside for giveaway some items I knew we likely wouldn’t use again, or that we had duplicates of.
Pro tip: If you have lots of dresses, jackets and other kids’ items that really should be hung up, invest in a cardboard wardrobe with a double hanger. Should this cardboard wardrobe end up in the garage, note that it must be off the floor, otherwise it will absorb damp and mildew.
Play area after culling and curating — stay tuned for all the reveal shots, coming end of week!
Category three: Toys
While Blazer and I worked on the closets, her assistant accomplished the task of toy sorting independently, following my instructions to put aside toys that appeared to be too immature for my 3.5- and 4.5-year-old to play with, as well as any toys that appeared to be broken, missing pieces or not in particularly good shape. The ultimate decision of what to keep and what to store was left up to us. What remained was sorted into labelled bins.
Pro tip: Although it’s important for the entire family to help with the problem-solving that is a cull, it’s best to keep the kids out of the sorting process. If left to their own devices, they will likely tell you they still play with absolutely every single toy that is cluttering up your playroom.
Tomorrow on “Clutter Gut Job”, we tackle my office!