Hopefully, you didn't curl into the fetal position and cry after walking through the door Christmas evening.
Sure, the perfectly clean house that awaited the arrival of Santa now looks like something from a hoarder's reality television series. But a few post-holiday organizing tips can help you get through the week after Christmas without weeping.
Let the chaos happen
You can not only let it happen, but you can enjoy it. This event comes only once a year. It's anticipated for months. It would be a shame not to enjoy the part our children have so eagerly awaited. Instead of coming home and quickly cleaning up everything in sight, let the chaos happen. Try going back to the magic of your own childhood through your children's eyes. Sit down in the middle of wrapping paper, bows, tape and torn-up boxes and try and enjoy this special moment with them. There is plenty of work to do in the days ahead.
If you don't start cleaning sometime, you'll be ringing in the New Year with a mess. But start small. You don't have to take the tree down and remove all traces of Christmas immediately, though you may be tempted to do so. Your children will be devastated, and you will be exhausted. Pace yourself through the post-holiday process.
Sort, toss, repeat
This process can start the minute presents are unwrapped by bringing out a big black garbage bag to throw away as much as possible. But with children wildly shredding paper, it's almost impossible to catch everything. That's why the "repeat" step is the most important.
Consider having your children set up their newly acquired gifts in one corner of their rooms. This process keeps gifts from being scattered around the house. You can also take a picture of the kids with their stash of gifts (It's fun to look at these pictures and remember the gifts they've received throughout the years).
While the kids sort through toys, books and games, you can sort through the stocking-stuffer items. Children sometimes get more candy for Christmas than they do for Halloween, so put their treats into Ziploc bags with their names to keep in the pantry.
Through this whole process, you'll toss out boxes, tiny twisty ties and more wrapping paper. Consider allowing your children to keep all their new items in the designated spot in their rooms for the next week (you want to give them a chance to play with them).
The constant sorting, tossing and repeating can last the entire week after Christmas.
On New Year's Eve day, consider having an "un-decorating" party. You can play fun music, eat all the yummy treats from neighbors and put away the decorations as a family. This will make it seem like a party instead of a chore. Spend the day cleaning and preparing for a New Year's Eve party that night.
Back to reality
The first week in January, it's time to get back to reality. Let your family soak up all the fun the week following Christmas, but one week is long enough to indulge.
Now is the time to de-junk the playroom. Let the children know they have to get rid of some old toys to make room for the new ones. This process may be painful at first, but with time, they may become a little too good at trashing old toys. Bring out two black garbage bags this time — one for broken toys and one for donations.
So enjoy the holiday season. But in order to survive post-holiday madness, let the chaos happen, pace yourself and take little steps along the way. Eventually, you'll be led happily back to reality just one week after the holidays are over.
Brittany Jones lives in Herriman with her husband and three boys. On her blog, brittsbroadcast.blogspot.com, she loves sharing ideas about family life, organizing and decorating.