Do you save things like shoe boxes, empty cardboard rolls, cans, jars and other items that seem perfect for kids’ crafts? Do these things get used by your kids or grandkids? Or, are you saving them for someone else … or a local school or day care?
Gather these items and bring them to their new home (you may want to check first to see if the items would still be useful). Or, if you’ll have kids or grandkids at the house sometime soon, make plans to bring out these supplies with markers, glue, and other craft materials for some kid-focused entertainment. It could also be useful to print out some directions for craft projects you’ve found online to inspire the kids. Establish limits by storing these supplies in a single storage bin.
If you have balls for the kids or grandkids, check that they are still in good condition. If they are deflated, will they hold more air when inflated? Before replacing that soccer ball or playground-style ball, consider the last time your kids or grandkids went looking for the items. If it’s been a while, don’t worry about holding onto the old items or purchasing new.
There are lots of suggestions for organizing kids’ artwork, these are some of my favorites. (I don’t have kids, however, as an art teacher, I’ve sent hundreds of kids home with thousands of pieces of art. In retrospect, I feel like I should have ended the week with a note home to the parents and kids with suggestions about how to deal with these creations.)
Have a cardboard file box for the current school year. Each time a child brings home a drawing, painting, or sculptural piece, put it into the box after you’ve viewed it and dated it.
If you want, you can display the most recent piece(s) on the refrigerator or in the child’s room using frames that allow you to change the artwork with ease. When a new piece comes in, ask the child if they want to display it or continue to show the previous work. This technique also gets kids in the habit of making decisions. When a piece comes down, put it in the box.
At the end of the school year, sit down with each child and sort through the contents of the box. Select the pieces the child is most proud of – perhaps they learned a new technique or developed a skill that allowed them to execute a project better than they had in the past; maybe they spent more time on this project than others.
Work down to approximately ten pieces. You can scan them, photograph them, or keep the actual pieces in a memory box. Three dimensional pieces can be photographed to save space. Even if you keep the physical objects, by making deliberate choices you could keep a child’s entire school age-related memories to a single file box.
If your child wants to display the piece throughout the summer, let them know that when the new school year starts, the piece will go away to make room for new creations.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Click on the button below to go to past day’s tasks and see if there is a task that you missed or could repeat.
If you got caught up in the adult coloring book fad, you may have a bunch of coloring books that you no longer use. You could pass them along to some older elementary school-age children or preteens who may appreciate the challenge of the complicated designs.
(Really, I’ve been surprised by the enthusiasm some young kids have for these complicated designs. Yes, they color outside the lines or color over some of the patterned details, but they still enjoy themselves.)
If you find you still enjoy the meditative quality of coloring, there’s no reason to give up on it because the fad had passed. However, if coloring didn’t do anything for you, you don’t need to hold onto these books (or the markers or colored pencils).
If you have play equipment in your yard for your children or grandchildren, check that the pieces are still in good condition and are size- and age-appropriate. Are there pieces that the kids never play with?
Talk to the kids about donating unused item(s) to other children (be them kids your children know or less advantaged children). Kids are used to sharing items and so the idea of giving away things they no longer use won’t be unusual.
If the equipment is old or damaged, toss it.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: Organize the contents of one digital or physical file folder. Eliminate what you don’t need and keep what you do.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.