Happy Halloween, fellow parents of trick-or-treaters!
Although technically candy is consumable, the size of the haul your kids bring home on Halloween can put it into the category of clutter.
How do you deal with it all?
Well, you could just not deal with it and let the kids keep and eat as much as they want. My main problem with this strategy is that having so much candy in the house is way too tempting for my husband and me! (The kids won’t notice anything missing, right?)
OK, so assuming you’d like to tame the candy beast a bit, here are some strategies that work for me:
1. The Halloween Store
We've used this strategy since my oldest was very little. The day after Halloween, I set up the Halloween Store: a tray of items that my kids can buy from me using their candy as currency. Depending on the size of candy haul, items range in price from 1 piece of candy to 10. My kids love the Halloween Store!
I make sure the stuff isn’t totally clutter-y junk. Some ideas include: sugar-free gum or mints, fuzzy Christmas socks (so they can wear them before Christmas), hair accessories, pens/markers, notepads (this year: 11” post-its that I found on clearance), stickers, and small toys.
2. All-you-can-eat for One Week (or two weeks if you're a softie like me)
This way, you don’t have to police the kids’ eating habits (Relax, it’s only one week – just make sure they floss and brush.) and the candy doesn’t stick around for too long.
3. Get the leftover candy out of the house
My husband often brings it to his college students, but if you don't have that outlet, I suggest bringing it to a Halloween Candy Buy Back location. They take your leftover candy, you get either some cash or products, and they send the candy to our troops through Soldiers’ Angels.
Click Halloween Candy Buy Back to find a location near you or contact me and I'd be happy to collect your candy and bring it back for you.
One of the books I read over the summer was The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and what I enjoyed most about the book were the descriptions of the new inventions created for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, such as the Ferris Wheel.
The invention that most delighted me was this:
“Visitors also encountered the latest and arguably most important organizational invention of the century, the vertical file, created by Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System.”
– Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City
Yes, I’m a nerdy organizer and I get excited about vertical files!
They are so ubiquitous now that we take them for granted, but at the time they must have seemed very modern and efficient. It’s hard to imagine an office today without them. How was paperwork stored before?
Need help with your files? Give me a ring! I have a very simple filing system for my household files: just one accordion file per year plus a small desktop vertical file for action items and frequently-accessed information. Whether we use my system or develop your own custom system, I’d love to help you streamline your paperwork.
The kids have been back in school for about a month and a half now and, especially if you have preschool or elementary-school-age children, the papers they bring home are starting to accumulate.
If you want to get a handle on this influx, you’ll have to be systematic and ruthless!
Your set-up should include two things:
Now you're ready to tackle the influx!
Check back here in June for ideas about how to process the portfolios at the end of the year.
If you’ve been good all year about weeding out the unnecessary stuff, this will be a quick, simple, and fun (yes, really) process.
Want to minimize the pile of mail you get? Try the PaperKarma app.
This app helps you control clutter in two ways:
1) It reduces the amount of mail you get.
2) It helps you avoid the temptation to shop by unsubscribing you from catalogs.
With your phone, just snap a photo of the address label of the catalog or mail solicitation that you want to unsubscribe from, and PaperKarma notifies the company and takes you off the mailing list.
It may seem fun to browse through catalogs, but constantly being confronted with the newest products is highly tempting and can create a sense of anxiety and dissatisfaction with the things you currently own. You can always look at that stuff online if you really need to shop for something. Letting the catalogs go will help restore peace.
There's a small fee for using the app (I believe after a certain number of free unsubscribes), but it's well worth it to help you get the influx of papers under control.
If clutter is driving you crazy, you might think the first step would be to start paring down and getting rid of things.
But how can you control the clutter when more keeps coming through the door?
Step one: Stop the mindless purchases.
Instead of buying on impulse, try this technique to give yourself a little more time to consider new acquisitions.
1. You see a dress/power tool/throw pillow that you really like (online or in a store) and have a strong desire to throw caution to the wind and buy it right now.
(Excuses abound: It's so cute! I deserve a little pick-me-up! This would make things so much easier! It would pull together the whole look of my living room!)
2. Don't buy it! Instead, enter it into your Wunderlist or calendar app with a reminder set for one month from now.
3. When you receive the notice a month later, check in with yourself to see if you even still remember the item, much less still want to buy it.
More often than not, you'll realize you really don't need that thing and maybe not having it has helped you better appreciate the things you already own. If you're still undecided, postpone the decision again with another reminder set for one more month. If you find you still really want the item, it's OK to give yourself permission to buy it. Feel good about having made a considered decision not a mindless purchase.
Look for more tips in the coming weeks about how to stem the tide of clutter coming into your home.