Declutter Before Back to School

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 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!

Getting Started on Your Garage Sale

Having a garage, tag or yard sale is one of the best ways to get rid of the clutter and make a few extra bucks at the same time. Start by going through the house room by room and sorting everything into keep, sell and donate piles, advises the Wholefully blog. As you complete each room, price everything in the sell pile and move it to a staging area for the big day. Then, contact to make an appointment (or two) to pick up the extra stuff you want to donate, and whatever stuff doesn’t sell.

Stage a Successful Memorial Day Garage Sale

A few of Café Mom’s top 10 secrets to a successful Memorial Day garage sale are location, good signage, fair prices, clean stuff, advertising and organization. Also, don’t put something out if you don’t really want to sell it, the story says, and don’t be seller who tries to sell the same things every weekend. Be ready to haggle if you want to make some quick cash, and if something doesn’t sell, “either throw it out or (if you think it’s really good), donate it.”

Give Mom the Gift of Less Clutter

Many moms — especially older moms — already have lots of stuff, and some are entering their “downsizing decades” later in life. This Mother’s Day, give them the gift of decluttering! Stop by, cook brunch and clean the hall closet; throw everything she no longer needs into boxes and schedule a pickup with Then, give only gifts that offer Mom an experience rather than more stuff, says the Embracing Simple blog, or items such as fresh flowers and pampering bath products that she can use — and use up — quickly.

Things You Can Trash Immediately

The decision to trash things carries with it a blissful immediacy. There’s lots of stuff people shove into a drawer and keep that’s of little use to anyone. So, throw out or recycle the old magazines, orphaned socks, takeout menus, plastic cutlery, mystery keys, half-used cosmetics and other items that are only cluttering up your home immediately. If something is unopened, in good shape and could be useful to a new owner, however, donate it to, and you will help fund valuable veterans’ programs.