Get the Kids to Declutter on Their Summer Vacation

School’s out (for the summer)! And if you have kids, that means you’ll be looking for something to keep them busy for six or eight hours on most weekdays. Summer camp, a family vacation and other diversions are great options, but they can’t fill every one of those hours fast enough. This summer, get your kids involved in a good #decluttering.

You can already hear the collective groan you might hear as you suggest such a chore. But if you organize and incentivize the task, you might find that it gets done faster and more completely — and then everyone can really enjoy the summer fun.

Set a goal; the Making Lemonade blog suggests a summertime target of reducing stuff by one-third. Kids tend to accumulate lots of toys, clothing and other junk that they outgrow quickly, leading to overstuffed closets and drawers, so extra stuff should be easy to weed out. Put each of them in in charge of choosing what to keep.

Find a rainy day or quiet weekend to have everyone pitch in and declutter their personal spaces, or simply set a deadline. As an incentive, put a garage or yard sale on the calendar; anything that the kids are able to declutter and sell will mean extra money in their pockets — money they can spend on whatever they wish.

Toys can present an especially challenging decluttering task, says Simply Well Balanced. Sort them into categories — building toys, stuffed animals, craft supplies, etc. — and ask your child to keep only a limited number of favorites. Those few items will go back to the closets and shelves, and the rest will be bagged and boxed for sale or #donation. Anything broken or unusable can go directly into the trash.

After you hold your sale and distribute the proceeds, you can box up the leftover clothing, toys and other household items and schedule a ClothingDonations.org pickup. A driver will stop by on the appointed day, load up your stuff and leave a donation receipt for tax purposes. That lightly used merchandise will then be resold to fund veterans’ programs.

This, in itself, can be a lesson in personal responsibility for younger children, decluttering coach Gari Julius Weilbacher told WHYY. “It’s wonderful to teach kids from a young age about making meaningful donations. Involving kids in packing up the books, toys and clothes that they are no longer using can engage them in the process.”

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