When the kids are away at camp it’s an ideal time for you to tackle some home organization projects that help tone down the clutter and allow you a few moments to spend walking down memory lane.
We have put together three simple organization projects that, with a small amount of time and effort, can help you get more organized and create systems that make documenting your family life (and not the mess that comes with it!) easier.
Organize Old Clothes
Kids grow so quickly, and that means the piles of outgrown clothes can easily take over the space in drawers and closets. To tame the clothing clutter, we suggest sorting old or outgrown clothes into two boxes.
Fill the first box with clothes that you can donate to local organizations like Goodwill, centers for women and children in need, or non-profit groups that help refugees. When you are donating clothing, make sure that it is still wearable and comfortable. Remember, no matter a person’s level of need, they still deserve to have items that remind them that they are special and cared for. For clothing that is not wearable, along with old sheets and towels, think about donating to a local animal shelter.
Fill the second box with those pieces of clothing that mean the most to you and your family. These don’t have to be the most stylish, or best quality pieces. They can include the t-shirt your son wore when he took his first steps, or your daughter’s favorite dress that she wore every day until she grew out of it. Gather all these treasured items and send them to a company like Project Repat, and have a blanket made.
If you’re anything like us, you have thousands of digital photos across multiple devices. To make sure that you don’t lose photos of the moments and memories you most want to document, create a file organization system that works for you. We suggest organizing by folders. You can sort by year, and create sub-folders based on time (monthly, quarterly, etc.) or you can organize by favorite places, milestones, or themes.
Do you vacation at Cape Cod every summer? Consider making a Cape Folder. Within that folder, create sub-folders for each year. That way, you can see how you and your family have changed, how special places have changed, and how the most important thing have remained the same. Think of the act of organizing your photos as a way of documenting and honoring the moments those photos capture.
To organize printed photos, consider using albums or decorative boxes for the photos you haven’t framed. Keep these boxes and albums around the house in family areas so that they are always available for you and your kids to take out and look at together.
When organizing photos, keep in mind how you plan to use them in the future. Make it easy to find your favorites and the photos that best tell the stories of your kids’ lives and your family life so they are on hand when it’s time to create a Mitzvah Montage or to add to a Portrait Video.
Organizing toys goes a long way to cutting down the clutter, but it can be a difficult experience for kids. Take some time while they are away at camp to sort through toys, starting with those that they haven’t played with much, or toys and games that they never even opened.
Don’t get rid of too much without their consent. It’s important to make sure that your kids feel involved in, but not overwhelmed by the process. Sort the toys as best you can without them, then look through individual boxes or bags - with no pressure - after they come home.
Come up with some strategies that make letting go of old toys easier. This can include putting together a pile of toys to pass along to younger relatives and friends. Find organizations together that your kids would like to donate their gently used toys to (check what organizations accept what kinds of toys - many will not take stuffed animals). Set aside some toys for your kids to sell to help reach their savings goals. They could join up with friends and do a group yard sale or stoop sale - the other moms will be thrilled that you are helping them clear their clutter, too!
When you are organizing, try to be intentional. Consider it part of acknowledging your family’s history and experiences. Feel confident putting things back into the world, after their time of service to you is over. But don’t feel bad about wanting to hold onto a few things, to turn them into memory pieces, or to keep them close to help you remember the moments that have meant the most to you.