Dear Kathi,

I have five kids and their toys have taken over my house. How can I handle storing my children’s toys and keepsakes without sacrificing my entire home?

Annie, Del Mar


Start by sorting through your toy collection. Gather your children and have them group all of their toys together into separate piles. Each child can then choose what toys and keepsakes they wish to keep. You will be surprised how fast and decisive they are at clearing out their clutter. Children are normally much less sentimentally attached to their belongings than adults.
Hold a toy garage sale to get rid of the cast-off toys. Let your kids keep the profits. If a sale is too time-consuming, donate. Help your children select the local charity where they will donate their items. Take them with you when you deliver the donation. Being a part of this process, your kids will learn about giving, feel a sense of accomplishment and will more likely be willing to help on the next clearing spree.
When you have successfully cleared the old abandoned toys, take action and create a separate holding zone for each child’s toys. A large container works well because it creates a physical limit on the amount of toys each child can own. If your child wants a new toy, he/she will need to give away an item to create space within their bin for the new toy. Let your kids know that they are responsible for returning their toys to their individual storage containers before bed. These excercises will teach your children how to remain clutter-free throughout life.
Have a permanent donation box set aside in your home for unwanted items. Your family will soon develop the automatic habit of releasing old and unwanted items on a regular basis. As the “donate box” becomes a permanent part of your life, you will happily and easily clear at least one box of old possessions every month!
For the remaining keepsakes, put a trunk at the foot of each child’s bed or use an under-the-bed box. As they grow, you can add items to it and than send it off with them when they leave the nest.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

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