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  • Writer's pictureTy Bailey

How to Cut Down on Your Kid's Clutter

When you have kids, you're no stranger to the amount of clutter they accumulate around the home. Here are a few ways to cut down on the mess and keep a hold on your sanity.

Birthdays, holidays, or simply those "fun" days when your kid decides to dump every single toy they own into the middle of the floor can easily turn into a parent's worst nightmare when your kid has so much stuff that cleaning it all up appears to be an impossible task.

Whether you're a total kid-spoiler, your parents are covering your kids up with toys, or somehow it all just got out of control and you don't even know where all of those dang toys came from or why they constantly seem to be covering everything, we've got some recommendations for how to reduce the clutter and keep things SIMPLY organized and out of the way.

Wall Hammocks/Hanging Nets

I've purchased one of these for myself as well as for my oldest since we can both actually reach up high to get our things whenever needed. These may work for younger kids if they're in the age ranges to where it won't bother them to have toys set aside "as long as they're there" or if they're babies with so many plush toys that they definitely won't be able to play with all of them just yet and are just oblivious.

(Pictured: My daughter's net hammock on the left, and my canvas hammock on the right.)

The installation can get a bit frustrating if you aren't patient or aren't skilled at lining things up (or following directions—you know who you are), but once you've got it set up, they look great and work great! Weight will affect them (as seen in the example of my daughter's net that she added even more plushies to and completed overloaded—Bingo and Bluey are HEAVY!), but as long as you follow the instructions and keep things as lightweight as possible, this is a great way to store toys with sentimental value, ones that may be bulky but light, or ones that you simply have a lot of lying everywhere.

Regarding aesthetics, my oldest likes just plain purple anything with no bells and whistles, but I'm a huge fan of how adorable my own plush hammock is with the tassels and cute color scheme. It adds a lot to the overall theme of my room, especially since I like colorful/pastel options for nearly everything I own. There are tons of different color and design options for these as well as numerous sizes available on Amazon, so my creative mamas and dads should have a blast further decorating the munchkins' rooms.

Clear Storage Cubes

Everyone has seen storage cubes with all kinds of designs, materials, etc. They're everywhere, and they work quite well for storing your kid's (as well as your own) stuff discreetly out of the way.

In my personal opinion though, there's a much better option. I was endlessly annoyed by flimsy fabrics and cardboard, and it was awful trying to find my girls' stuff in opaque containers, then having to dig through every single one to find what they were yelling about needing. (Even if you label those boxes, you know good and well those kids are still going to throw stuff in the wrong ones.)

My favorite solution for keeping things optimally organized as well as avoiding the hassle of "lost" or misplaced toys has been clear storage cubes. The ones I bought were not cheap, but they've lasted for over a year despite the abuse and hard toys being thrown in them, and they even survived our move!

"Why clear?" Even though you may see what's inside all of those storage cubes, that's the point! It's helped my kids a lot more with cleaning up and putting things in the right places for them to be able to see which cubes contain which toys (such as the car bucket, the dino bucket, the pretend play bucket, etc.). I may be able to see all of those toys on the shelf, but guess what? When the toddler starts crying because Moana isn't in the princess bucket in her room, I can look at the pretend play bucket and in two seconds know exactly where her tiny princess went during a rushed cleanup.

These are game-changers. Seriously.

Make Some Donations

We always try to do "quarterly clutter cleanups" when the seasons change to stay on top of reducing our home's overall junk level and prepare for things like the girls' birthdays and gift-related holidays. Whether you've got plushies, toys, blankets, clothing, or other items just sitting around your home, if they're in good condition, one of the best things you can do is donate them.

When you're cleaning up and planning on making donations, encourage your child to focus on how giving away something they no longer use (that is in good condition) is helping benefit someone else who is in need and may be unable to acquire the same things as them with as much ease. These are great learning opportunities to help your child learn a habit of living generously and looking out for others.

Aside from just human recipients, many plush toys and blankets will also commonly be accepted at local animal shelters as well, so be sure to check with those in your area to see if they need any of these items when you have some to give away.

Places to consider donating to:

Additionally, you can also check out DonationTown for further information on your local charity options.

Put "Limbo" Items in Storage

Although my toddler spreads equal love amongst all of her toys (making donation times far more difficult for us), the preteen is quite selective. However, even some of her toys and plushies that never see the light of day have significant value to her for one reason or another.

When we come across items that she isn't sure whether she really does want to keep them but she also can't fully decide that she's comfortable with giving them away, we put those items into storage. (We also do this during mandatory cleaning periods when we try to find the least loved items of the toddler and hide them away for a few months to see if she asks for them.)

Here are our rules for the matter.

For the little one, if she doesn't ask within x number of months, we're safe to donate the toy. (For those who are thinking, 'A toddler would be too distracted to remember something like that! That's not fair!' don't know my toddler. The kid remembers specific promises, commitments, and random statements said from weeks ago and will hold all of us to them. When she has wanted a toy back, she's gotten it. Otherwise, into the donation box it goes!)

For the oldest, she's given however many months we decide at the time of putting the item in storage to see if she cares, thinks about it at all, or if she is perfectly content living without it. Once the allotted amount of time is up, we either bring it back out or donate it. However, we've sometimes now begun to keep a few things still safely stored away in our rental location when she's decided something truly does have value to her but that it may also get annihilated by the toddler if we were to leave it out in the open at home.

Storage Ottomans

I had very little faith in these pieces to look nice, hold up to actual adult human weights, and properly store away things I wanted to keep in the home but not have sitting out for all the world to see.

Consider me a believer now.

At the end of our bed is a white ottoman about 75% the length of the bed itself. It will have clothing set on top of it, people occasionally sitting on top of it, the dog slamming into it when running into the room, and the toddler jumping and crawling all over it like crazy. Never once has it shifted, cracked, or even remotely been phased by the abuse. Better yet, my toddler has no idea it's the mysterious storage piece that holds all of my personal plushies I refuse to sacrifice to her wild needs. That child has tortured me for years now trying to steal one of my most precious teddy bears any time she's laid eyes on him, but now she doesn't see him at all.

...nor does anyone entering our home see the other 20+ plushies of mine shoved into the ottoman right along with him. It's so clever and discreet. I love it.

For kids, obviously, this is a great option. Older kids will love the additional sitting furniture (available in tons of neat designs and color options) for friends or just lounging around. Little ones may not particularly care about the versatility of these pieces in the same way, but they'll be quite happy to see that the "foot prop" in the living room is actually the cleanup spot for all of their living room toys—which was our ottoman's previous use. They are definitely in my top favorite storage pieces.

Trash the Actual Junk

It should go without saying, but when you're cleaning up and there's actual trash mixed in with all of those toys, throw it away. Seriously. You'll be okay. Your children will be okay. They don't need the empty Reese's wrapper. They don't need the random scrap of styrofoam that fell to the floor when you were opening that package that came in the other day. They don't need the bottle cap that got left on the table after you opened your sports drink.

It's trash.

Throw it away.

Rock Collectors: Make a Backyard "Garden"

For the poor souls whose children have decided they must acquire ALL of the rocks on the planet and bring every single one of them home, this last idea is for you. We're currently dealing with this, so trust me.

Storing them in a bowl or a zipper bag is not really ideal, so why not put those rocks to use? Take the time to help your little one build a "rock garden" in your yard (or in a flower pot or container filled with dirt if you don't have a yard). Instead of throwing everything in a pile or letting it just be strewn about, help them place the rocks nicely, whether this is just evenly spaced or in the shape of a particular design.

Once your "rock garden" has been established, you can then also cut down on the overall rock hoarding by encouraging your child to find one "very special" rock per walk or other outdoor trip, and it can become a fun hobby as they grow older. For children interested in arts and crafts, you may even want to start painting some of those rocks or turning the rock garden into something more akin to a fairy garden or miniature gnome garden with tiny furniture and things like little character statues or animal figurines.

The possibilities are endless, so this one is great for pushing your creativity to another level and making a previous nuisance now a fun activity for everyone involved.

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