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by Ann Douglas

Eager to chase the baseball caps and sandals out of your closets before the toques and winter boots move in for another season? There’s no better time of year to do battle with closet chaos than right now.

As your family’s Chief Motivation Officer (CMO), it’s your job to convince the entire family to buy into the closet cleanup process. After all, this is definitely an all-hands-on-deck proposition. Fortunately, you’ve got the ultimate weapon at your disposal: our ten-step weekend makeover plan for conquering closet chaos. Not only can the entire process be accomplished over the course of a weekend: we’ve worked in enough opportunities for fun to convince the entire family to stick with the programme.

STEP ONE Family pizza party Friday evening 6:00 p.m.

It’s amazing how receptive kids are to new ideas when they are dining on a favorite meal, so take advantage of this basic motivational principle as you sell the kids on the weekend agenda. Let them know that when they get up in the morning, they’re going to have the opportunity to make a mess beyond anything they might have imagined in their wildest dreams—and they’re actually going to be rewarded for their efforts.

But, first things first. You’re going to need as much floor space as possible once you start dumping out the contents of all those closets, so what the kids need to do tonight is tidy up their rooms. Sweeten the deal by announcing a 45 minute cleaning challenge: if each kid can have his or her room in reasonable condition in 45 minutes then the entire family will hop on their bikes and head to the park.

STEP TWO Breakfast of champions Saturday morning 8:30 a.m.

You can’t expect the troops to put in a full morning’s work on an empty stomach, so start out the day with a family favourite like French toast. While everyone’s gathered around the table, explain the first phase of the morning’s mission: emptying the closets and tossing everything into a giant heap in the middle of the floor.

STEP THREE Mess patrol Saturday morning 9:30 a.m. Now that the closets are empty, it’s time to move on to the next phase of the operation: sorting through the resulting mountain of stuff.

At this point, you simply want your kids to divide the mountain into three distinct piles:

1) stuff that belongs in my room; 2) stuff that belongs in someone else’s room; 3) stuff that doesn’t belong in this house at all.

STEP FOUR Time off for good behaviour Saturday noon 12:00 p.m.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill rather grouchy, so give the troops some time off for good behaviour. Take them for a swim at the community centre or treat them to an afternoon movie matinee. You’ve all earned a break.

STEP FIVE Sizing up the enemy Saturday afternoon 3:00 p.m.

Now that you’ve had a chance to size up the enemy—the piles of stuff on the floor!—you should have a clear indication of what’s got to find its way back into each closet. Armed with that knowledge, you can start coming up with a shopping list of what you’re going to need to whip each person’s closet into shape. Here are a few tips.

- Closet organizers massively increase the amount of useable closet space by allowing garments to be hung above and below one another—and, what’s more—they can be customized to meet each child’s unique storage needs. So plan to invest in a good quality closet organizer.

- Stackable clear plastic bins with snap-on lids are ideal for storing toys and art supplies because they allow your child to see what’s inside each container. Hint: If you assign each child a set of containers with a different colour of lid, toys that “migrate” to other parts of the house can easily be returned to the room of the rightful owner.

- If your child has a huge collection of building blocks or art supplies cluttering her closet, you might want to store those materials in a fishing tackle box or a tool box.

- Hanging shoe bags can be used to hold slippers, baseball hats, and other assorted paraphernalia—anything to get these items off the floor of your child’s closet.

- Shoe racks can be used to tame the shoe collection of a pint-sized shoe diva or to hold the stuffed animal collection of a veterinarian-in-training. STEP SIX Family movie night Saturday night 7:00 p.m.

Your mission for Saturday night is simple: get all the extra stuff out of each child’s room so that they’ll be able to find their beds again! Stuff that is destined for a sibling’s room should be shuttled off to its destination immediately, while stuff that is going to be exiled forever should be dragged to the TV room for a final round of sorting. Your final task for the evening? Watching a video together while everyone sorts through the mountain of stuff on the floor. By the end of the movie, you should have five smaller piles on the family room floor, sorted according to ultimate fate: 1) to give away 2) to donate to charity 3) to sell 4) to recycle 5) to throw in the trash. STEP SEVEN Tool time Sunday morning 9:00 a.m. The kids get the morning off while the grownups spend some time assembling the new closet organizers. To reward yourself for getting to work this early in the morning, whip up a pot of the most decadent gourmet coffee money can buy. (Hey, I told you there were perks for sticking with the programme!) And to really get your blood pumping, dig through your old LP collection and fire up some inspiring tunes from your younger years. (Chances are you could use a bit of Saturday Night Fever to jumpstart your Sunday morning work bee!) STEP EIGHT Coming out of the closet Sunday afternoon 2:00 p.m. Now that the closet organizers have been installed, it’s time to start putting each person’s stuff away. Your best bet is to organize your child’s clothing by seasons, making sure that the current season’s clothing is stored down low where your child can reach it easily while the off-season clothing is stored at the top of the closet. (Of course, if you have a six-year-old who insists on wearing sleeveless sundresses in the middle of winter or polar fleece tracksuits on a blistering hot day, you may have to resort to packing her off-season clothing away in the basement or storing it in containers under her bed. Remember: out of sight, out of mind!) STEP NINE Celebratory dinner Sunday evening 6:00 p.m.

Your work is now finished and it’s time to reward your kids for all their hard work by having a celebratory family dinner. While they’d never admit it—doing so would be a clear violation of the kid code of honour—your kids are bound to be pleased with their new-and-improved bedroom closets. After all, they’ve now got a whole bunch more room to accumulate a whole bunch more stuff! STEP TEN Late-night bubble bath Sunday evening 10:00 p.m. Once the troops are in bed, head for the tub. Operation Closet Cleanup is now complete and, by all accounts, it was a roaring success. Congratulations, Mom. I knew you could pull it off. After all, you didn’t get that CMO designation for nothing!

Ann Douglas is a bestselling pregnancy and parenting author and mother of four. Her latest books are Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler: The Ultimate No-Worry Approach for Each Age and Stage. You can find her online at and




Here is a response by a MOM to out question, How do we ensure that our children do not grow up with the feeling of entitlement?

This is probably one of the obvious, but it is what I plan to do. Go through my daughters playroom and gather toys that she no longer plays with, or even knows that it is there and send them to an organization to give to kids in need.

I already had the idea to give the toys away without even mentioning it to her. AS I said, she has so much, she really doesn't know half the toys she has and would never even miss them.

My Father in law brought something to my attention. He had asked her, "Are you going to give some of your toys away at Christmas to some children who won't otherwise get any?" She thought about it and replied, "No, I want a lot of toys".

Well, she is going to be a part of my plan and she will know where her old toys are going. She has to learn the meaning of kindness and giving. Hopefully it won't be too painful. This will be done hours before nap time!!!



In our household we exchange Christmas stockings filled with our favourite items that we find useful in the year. Examples of this are socks, underwear, hand cream, facial products, shampoos, conditioner, toothbrush, dental floss, a book, magazine subscription, etc. For the young kids we would fill a stocking up with dollar store items such as crayons, colouring books, stickers, arts and craft stuff, chocolate. We avoid buying big ticket items and things that they don't need.



Early in our child's life we started a tradition with friends and their kids. At our annual Christmas party we would each bring a wrapped gift for a child who is less fortuante instead of exchanging gifts among each other. This is something that I hope would become a part of our daughters lives as they grow and learn the importance of giving, volunteering and caring for others who may not be as lucky as they are.










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Copyright © 2006 Moms of Mississauga. All rights reserved. Revised: August 30, 2008