We can practically smell Spring in the air, which means there's no better time to make room for a new, and much more kid-friendly, season. No matter how neat and tidy you keep your house, if that house includes kids, I'm willing to bet you've collected some serious clutter since the holidays. We've rounded up eight categories of kid stuff that need your attention during this year's Spring cleaning session. From the wearable items they're about to outgrow to the toys they've ignored during the months they've been stuck inside, now's the time to clean up and clear out. Here's where to start.
- Toys. If your home is anything like mine, toys seem to be slowly taking over every empty (and previously tidy) corner. Now's the time to get the deluge of plastic and plush under control (preferably when your kids aren't home to inhibit your progress). Broken toys, games and puzzles that are missing pieces, and tiny toys collected from kids' meals and goody bags should all be trashed. Toys that your children have outgrown or never liked should be put in a donation box, as long as they're in good condition. Much loved and often played with toys should be organized and stored in easily accessible bins.
- Books. I love that my kids have amassed a huge collection of children's books, but now that my youngest is four, many of his baby and board books have been collecting dust for some time now. If you're in a similar situation, now's the time to edit your library. Books that have seen better days (teething can be brutal on board books) should be recycled, while those that are in good shape can be donated or passed down to younger friends or family members. Those that remain should be organized on a bookshelf or using another creative book storage solution.
- Clothing. Kid clothing is one of those things that you should stay on top of regularly, but if you haven't weeded through your children's closets recently, now's the time. Stained or ripped clothing goes in the garbage; lightly worn, outgrown items should go in the donation or hand-me-down pile. Clothes that still fit should be organized by type (T-shirts, dresses, sweatshirts, etc.) to encourage your kids to dress themselves.
- Shoes. Unless you'd be happy to receive a pair of used shoes in the same condition, you probably shouldn't think about passing down your kid's old sneakers and boots. However, my kids always seem to have a couple of pairs of shoes that were either never worn or only worn a time or two before they outgrew them, and those can definitely be donated or handed down.
- Bathroom Items. Throw out the old toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, empty shampoo bottles, and especially any tub toys that have collected mold. Outgrown baby towels and tubs, assuming they're in good shape, can be donated or handed down.
- School Papers. Now's the time to tackle that pile of papers you've been stacking instead of sorting all year. We guarantee at least 70 percent of them — school flyers, worksheets, and spelling lists — can be tossed. Hold on to any particularly special school projects or writing assignments, but be brutal in your editing.
- Crafts and Craft Supplies. Toss broken crayons, dried out markers and Play-Doh, and any other unusable craft items. Take on a similarly savage approach when editing through your kids' crafts. How many do you really need to hold on to, and who's really going to want to look at that wonky dog a decade from now? Keep only the best and the most sentimental.
- Kiddie Snacks. I have a tendency to buy kid snacks and lunch-box items in bulk when I find something new my children like or find an old favorite on sale. And then their tastes change, things get pushed to the back of the pantry, or expiration dates weren't as far off as I expected. Give your snacks a good sorting and toss anything that's past it's sell date or has otherwise lost its allure.