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Creating Clutter? Minimize the Mess.

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No doubt about it, Americans like to accumulate and surround themselves with material things.

The late George Carlin nailed it when he quipped, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”

The problem is, that same “stuff” creates a mess, and most people also like to be neat and organized, if not downright minimalistic. This makes for two unlikely bedfellows and is the reason companies like The Container Store boast close to billion-dollar bottom lines.

And when you have kids? Fugehdaboutit. The potential for messiness multiplies ten-fold.

For those wannabe organized families who would like to declutter (or at least keep the squalor at bay), look no further than these tips:

• Buy bins. These plastic tubs can be a godsend for parents whose kids refuse to throw (or give) anything away, or for those anal-retentive parents who want to try and teach their kids to organize things at an early age. It keeps the mess to a minimum and makes cleaning simple for both parents and children.

• Learn to purge. The first step in decluttering is identifying which toys and other possessions are truly important to the kids. What do they play with, what do they love? Then get rid of as much of the rest as possible, keeping only those they use and adore.

• Use hangers and hooks. These minimally priced inventions that hang on the backs of doors helps keep towels, scarves, coats and other items off the floor. Similarly, a shoe rack that hangs in the closet can also be a great organization tool for little ones.