One popular New Year tradition that many cultures have, including Black families, is to start the New Year with a clean house from top to bottom. The old people in my family used to say don't let the New Year find you with a dirty house because that will bring you a year of bad luck. I reached out to my friend, Briana Spruille, cofounder of JustBE, LLC, a professional organizing business, for tips to help us get our homes and spaces right for 2021!
Kirstie: When my kids were younger my house often looked like I ran a daycare center. Keeping things organized with small children is a challenge. What are some things parents can do to stay on top of their children’s clutter?
Briana: Children are a blessing and bring so much life to a home. They also have a way of generating unwanted clutter. Assess each area of your home that you feel looks like a daycare center; are they dedicated to children or are they shared by the whole family? Is it functioning the way you envision, or is it a source of stress? Your top priority should be incorporating smart, easy storage of their items by designating specific areas of the home. For example, set up a play teepee/fortress for small children. It can be a place to store all toys, out of sight, in colorful bins or baskets. Utilizing a rolling cart for crafts and books also creates a “moving” play area instead of them taking over main areas. The overall goal is to create zones for their activities and declare a “home” for the things that are involved in said activity. If a “home” for everything is not declared for children, items will be placed any-and every-where!
Also, start the declutter process by purging unnecessary items. Once all items are categorized into like items, assess quantities. You want to include your children in this process. Allow them to feel helpful and needed while teaching organization and cleanliness. Involve them in the “declare a home process” so that they understand the process, and are more inclined to keep things in order, maintaining the goal. If your children choose to donate some items, they learn the importance of charity and helping others.
Kirstie: I have a hard time tossing awards and other cute crafts my kids have made for me. Any recommendations on handling this without feeling guilty?
Briana: Sorting and decluttering sentimental items can be an emotional process. Always remind yourself of your organizing goals when getting started. Ask yourself if you REALLY want to keep the item, and ask your child if they care if you keep it. Paper items such as awards, report cards, and photos can be scanned and downloaded, then shared with the family via Cloud or Google. Small crafts and artwork can be displayed in colorful shadow boxes. Larger items can be placed in labeled storage bins and put in the attic or garage. That way they are decluttered but not thrown away. Also, consider designating a display area in the home and swapping items out periodically. Consider bringing in a friend or professional to assist with making decisions.
Kirstie: How can parents teach their children to be organized and not become packrats?
Briana: Great question! Make sure your children are paying attention/involved as you decide to organize goals for space and declare “homes” for everything. Then model the behavior you want them to practice. This actually aids in accountability on both ends.
A few ways to motivate them to stay organized:
· Make it a game – turn the storage bin/basket into a basketball hoop
· Establish new toy in, old toy out routine – especially for birthdays and holidays
· Create a daily routine by setting a 15-minute timer and turning on music…then reward them for putting things away/cleaning up in 15 minutes (can be small rewards with an occasional outing reward)
Kirstie: What are some organizing tools you would recommend for families?
Briana: I recommend the following:
Rolling carts- can be used for crafts and schoolwork
Over the door wire rack
Storage bookcase and storage cubes or baskets- should be color-coded for each child
Open top stackable bins
Closed top bins for backstock/overflow only
Turntables can be used literally in any area of the house and work great for snack stations and hard to reach areas
Roll out drawer for cabinets and deep shelves