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Kids at Home? Take advantage!

by Vali G. Heist, Certified Professional Organizer®

Mar 25, 2020
Vali G. Heist M.Ed.

Whenever I work with clients who have children, they frequently say they were organized before they had kids! Many parents have realized that their kids are overwhelmed by the volume of their stuff, which includes toys, books, games, electronics and even food. The new mantra for kids is “less is more” and teaching kids to be more organized must begin with uncluttering the C.R.A.P. (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure).

During this unusual time of social distancing and staying at home, parents could take advantage of the time and go through the excess with their kids. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but unless you want to just throw out what you think they don’t need or want, and not teach them that their excess is not just your problem, but also theirs, having them present is a good thing. I suggest you set a timer on your phone for one hour and then take a break for snacks or a meal. Reward them with a treat after dinner each night.

Here’s a few areas you could tackle:

Food Pantry

  • Kids’ tastes, allergies, nutritional needs, and healthier eating makes going through the pantry a must.
  • Throw out expired food and recycle any paper boxes.
  • Donate any unexpired food to the local food pantry. Find The Helping Harvest Food Bank here.
  • Arrange pantry shelves so kids can reach their snacks.
  • Use organizing tools on deep shelving, so you don’t lose track of food.


  • Gather all electronics, phones, cords, accessories, instruction books, and software.
  • Have your kids and spouse help to match up everything and eliminate the unnecessary.
  • Keep similar things together in Ziploc bags and designate one place for all electronics.
  • Recycle all the obsolete electronics to Berks County Recycling Center.
  • See if you can sell your old screens and phones on com.
  • For more tips, see Dawn George’s article in this email.


  • Kids grow too fast! Go through their clothing by size first and then by what they like or don’t like.
  • If you save outgrown clothing for friends, pack it up and deliver it to their home as soon as this health crisis is over.
  • Donate clothing to Goodwill (during the health crisis, bins are located outside of the donation center).

Games and Toys

  • Go through the game closet with your kids by playing the games and see if your family wants to keep it.
  • Have each child go through the toys in their room first and then go through the playroom.
  • Throw out broken toys and donate the rest to the Goodwill (see above).

Kids’ Backpacks and Books

  • Many kids were asked to take home the stuff in their desks and their lockers so you may find some missing treasures. Only put back the essentials into their backpacks.
  • Have your kids tell you which books they want to keep and will read and which ones they would like to donate to kids who have no books.
  • Box up the books to go and save them for donation to Berks County’s Book Bonanza. Collection is suspended for now, but click here for updates.

To keep the spirit of uncluttering going, designate a permanent home for your children to place their unwanted toys and clothing so their rooms stay uncluttered and simplified. Practice the “One Out, One In” rule: If your kids want something new, they have to let something go first. Hopefully your children will understand how much work it takes to maintain their belongings and maybe even want less stuff to deal with in the future. Good luck!

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