If you have children, you more than likely have this in abundance. Stuffed behind the couch, under the table, in bed, the closets may even be exploding with it! It takes many forms, but to your child it all boils down to the same thing... and you can NEVER throw it out!
TREASURE!!! What we often call clutter is actually valued treasure to our treasures! Those items so desperately wanted or found are so highly valued for a day or a week, then go unnoticed until you're ready to put them in the trash (some, of course, are not deserving of the trash). A small sampling of our treasures include: pinecones, seed pods, books, party favors, drive through toys, bottle caps, random pieces of rubber, and a host of small vehicles. I'm sure you could add to this list.
So, what to do with all this booty?
Have a treasure day! Find a location to stow away the treasure for your child to rediscover it periodically throughout the day . It becomes new again and less like "useless junk." Today was a cleaning day for me, which makes the kids frustrated that Mama can't play. The finding of treasure kept the kids busy and they didn't mind my decreased interaction. The downside to this was that Nate and Elli kept wanting me to hide treasure instead of playing with what they had. We had to make a rule that more treasure would appear only if they didn't demand it. I also stashed some learning items such as magnifying glasses and guide books for them to find which later gave me a nice cleaning break where I snuggle and explored the books with them.
Stow it! Package it up in little bags or boxes for specific situations. We recently brought 10 little plastic airplanes to a soccer game. Nate only came home with 8, but he and his friends had a great time playing with them. I've set aside some Happy Meal trucks for beach play this summer. We also rotate toys to keep them fresh.
Donate it! Some items may have value to another child. Helping your child determine what they should keep or share has lifelong value. Honestly, sometimes I include them in this process, others not so much.
Toss it! At our current ages, I find that this is best done after bedtime. My personal guidelines for this? I never throw out something they've actively played with recently. I don't throw out items that have true value to someone. So far very little has been missed and the few times it has been, I'm not lying when I honestly answer that "I don't know where your leaf is right now."
Host a Swap! Get together with a few friends and have each child bring 3-5 things to trade for someone else's treasure. Do this when children are at their best and have snacks. (I have not actually tried this.)
Create a game! As the kids are becoming older we're starting to be able to be more creative. Game play is big in our house. We can use some of our treasures as game pieces for new games.
Thoughts? How do you manage your children's junk... um... I mean treasure?