Tips for undecorating the house and taming the toy haul

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organzingBy Betsy Stein

The holidays are over and now the house is a mess, overflowing with toys and decorations that have yet to be put away. To help with your post-Christmas clutter, here are tips from several Annapolis/Baltimore area professional organizers.

Organizing the toys

  1. Schedule time with your children to sort through their toys. Set aside items to donate and explain to your kids where the items will go. If they are reluctant to part with anything, tell them that their new toys may have to be put away until space is made, says Jacquie Ross, professional organizer and president of CastAway the Clutter! Organizing & Coaching Services based in Ellicott City. "I think organizing kids is so important, and after Christmas is a golden opportunity to work with them," agrees Terry L. Cooch, a mother of six and owner of TLC Home Organizing and Staging Services based in Annapolis. "I see so many parents who want to sneak kids' things away from them, rather than work with them to help them learn to make those decisions." Be sure to support your children's choices, even if an old favorite is chosen over something new, Cooch says.
  2. Use containers to help organize toys. This teaches organization skills, Ross says. After doing this for a while, her own children began asking her for containers to store their new toys in, she explains.
  3. Label all containers. This saves time figuring out what's inside and, if the container has been emptied, you'll know what toy is supposed to be returned to the container, Ross says. It's also helpful to label the edge of the shelves so kids know where to return the containers when they've finished playing.
  4. Schedule time each day to put everything away. If you find you don't have a place to put everything, it's time to purge or reorganize the toy area to find space, Ross says.
  5. Go through your children's toys at least once a quarter. If the toy area is getting too full, then purge some more or add more storage, Ross says.

Read on to find out how to orgainze the holiday decorations.

Organizing holiday decorations

  1. Schedule the cleanup. Packing up holiday decorations is no fun, so both Ross and Cooch recommend planning a time to get it done. Break it down into manageable tasks and put on "un-decorating music" to make it more fun, Cooch says. "Decide what would be more enjoyable (or less unpleasant) — including the family in the task or not," Cooch says.
  2. Purge decorations. Anything unused, broken or no longer liked should be tossed, not packed back up, Ross says.
  3. Keep it organized. Put decorations in bins labeled by room or type, such as "living room" or "greenery," Cooch suggests. Purchase specialty organizers for tree ornaments, wreaths, artificial trees and more, Ross adds. "This makes it very easy to put everything away because most holiday decorations have their own dedicated containers," Ross says.
  4. Make the tree a separate task. Take a break between putting the rest of the decorations away and tackling the tree, or do it on a different day, Cooch says.
  5. Refresh the house. Treat yourself to flowering house plants or a pretty wreath for the front door to keep the house from feeling bare after all the decorations are put away.
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