Declutter Before Back to School

school kids running

Most young people will return to school in just a few weeks. In many regions, school starts as early as mid-August, and that means there’s no time like the present to not only shop for the new clothes, textbooks and gadgets they’ll need for the upcoming school year, but also make room for those items by cleaning out some of the old stuff they won’t.

If your kids are still young, that’s great — you can help them form a foundation of habits that they can use throughout life. “Four-year-olds aren’t super-great declutterers, but they can certainly look through a pile of their drawings and pick out their favorites, or try out a pile of markers to figure out which ones are dried up,” says the Frugal Girl blog.

Help young children sort things into categories, and make “keep” and “get rid of” piles within each. Resist the urge to conduct the decision-making yourself; like everyone else, kids get attached to their stuff, and may be hurt if you make a call without their input. Instead, gently urge them to save only their favorites in each category (clothing, books, toys, etc.).

When they complete each segment of the task, box up the lightly-used stuff and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. To keep things orderly, invest in some plastic bins to keep like items together, and reinforce the advantages of decluttering by pointing out how neat, clean and spacious their shelves and rooms become.

If your kids are already in their teenage years, the battle may be more difficult, says The Non-Consumer Advocate. Again, you should involve them in the decluttering process; it is not OK to arbitrarily clean and toss. Do, however, set concrete limits on how many of a particular item can be kept: X number of T-shirts or X number of games.

If you’re sending a child to college for the first time, you have a golden opportunity to declutter your home. You might have plans to repurpose his or her room, and even if you don’t, there’s likely a ton of stuff they won’t need during the transition into adulthood that you can store, sell, donate or throw away before they go.

As they pack for school, again: Create piles of items to keep, donate and trash. Almost any item of clothing your child doesn’t want to take to college is fair game for a donation, as are toys and games they’ve outgrown. Take this opportunity to have your child create his or her own bin of special memories, says the SpareFoot Blog, and store it in a safe place.

When your child moves out of the house for good, they can take that bin with them — and you can reclaim the space!

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