Decluttering With Kids
Yes you can work on your own decluttering projects with kids at home. But why not teach them how to declutter themselves and give them lots of practice in their rooms!
Does the mess in your kids’ bedrooms drive you crazy? Do you find that even though when their bedrooms get cleaned and tidied up, its not long until its a mess again? YES!!
It could be that your kids simply have TOO MUCH STUFF in their rooms!! Too much stuff means keeping a space tidy is a lot more difficult.
Rather than go and buy more storage containers, consider teaching your kids how to successfully declutter their room. Their bedroom will become more inviting and usable, and so much easier to keep clean and tidy.
As our kids get older and start to mature, they can learn the skill of going through their own things and deciding what to keep and what to let go of themselves. Kids can learn the skills to successfully declutter their room!
How To Teach Kids To Declutter Their Room
Here’s a few tips to make the process go more smoothly before you start:
- Make sure no one is hungry or tired. You need lots of energy to make decisions!
- Have several large bags or containers on hand for items to be discarded and donated.
- Break up the task depending on the age or personality of your kids. Tackle just one space or set a time limit.
- Err on the side of keeping an item, rather than forcing your child to get rid of stuff they don’t want to. Your relationship is more important than the decluttering.
- Do something fun or relaxing when you are finished. Enjoy your hard work!
Ok, let’s get on with it!
Step 1. Put Like Items Together
Empty the space you are working with and sort the items into categories.
In my 10 year old daughter’s room we had groups of soft toys, craft items, Barbie dolls & accessories, photos, Lego, bags, hats, dress-ups and nick knacks which my daughter renamed “little teeny weeny things that don’t have a category” and a miscellaneous pile.
Create whatever piles are suitable for your child’s belongings. Keep sorting until all drawers, shelves, and storage containers have been emptied.
Are there any personal items kept in different areas around the house?
Don’t forget to include those things in the sorting! Miss K remembered she had a container of colouring-in items in the living area. This got added to her growing collection of stuff.
Ok now’s the time to stand back and have a look together at how much stuff there is. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff!! Take a photo or two if you want to have some before photos.
Now parents, you may be tempted to make comments along the way. Like,”Gosh you don’t play with x,y and z anymore you will probably want to get rid of that.” Please refrain! This first step is simply about sorting items into categories.
Similarly to how us adults can find it difficult to let go of our “stuff” so can our kids. So it’s important that they feel a sense of control over the process of deciding what to keep and what to discard.
Ok success with step 1!! ? Hurrah, let’s move onto the next step.
Step 2. Does this item make me smile or is it really useful to me?
Step 2. is the Organised Pretty Home version of Marie Kondo‘s, Does It Spark Joy? The important part is that we are teaching our kids to recognise how they feel about their belongings.
Encourage kids not to get distracted by opening items, reading, browsing through, playing with items etc. It’s so much harder to let go of anything that way! Simply have a look at each item briefly.
Is it something they really like or use?
- Yes definitely, I am not giving this away!! The item goes into the To KEEP pile.
- No! Does it have missing pieces or is it broken? The item goes in the DISCARD pile.
- No! The item can be place in a bag to donate.
Decluttering Tip: Start with the easiest items first. Maybe a collection of toys they play with often and really love.
Miss K started with her favourites, a collection of soft animals and teddy bears. That made it really quick and easy for her to go through and put aside her keep items. Simply, the toys that didn’t have names and a story about their personalities didn’t get kept.
Check out these Stuffed Animal Storage Ideas!
We chose to put most of the discarded items in a separate box so I could go through them later on to decide what could be re-used and what wasn’t in good condition anymore.
Both adults and kids can over value the worth of what they own. Sometimes it’s better for a person who isn’t emotional attached to those belongings, aka Mum, to sort through them and decide what can be given away or sold etc.
If you decide that the parent is doing the final sort make sure to respect their choices about what to let go of. Ignore the temptation to run back into their room with toy x saying,” I thought this was your favorite. How can you get rid of this one?” etc.
Problem Solving Decluttering With Kids
What about gifts kids have received from family and friends?
This was probably the area Miss K found the most tricky to make decisions about. Letting go of gifts can be hard because there can be strong emotions guilt attached to the item, and letting go of it.
Give your child permission to graciously let go of gifts they no longer want or need.
How many activities, projects or hobbies do they keep?
Unfortunately, time is a finite resource. You cannot spend all your time on everything you find interesting and neither can your kids. Why did no one teach me this when I was younger?
Your kids will have numerous items that are intended as a play activity, craft or hobby to try. I suggest choose 2 to 3 hobbies or play activities that they really enjoy and want to spend time on. Let go of the rest!
What if my child wants to keep everything?
Consider whether now is a good time to declutter their room. Is there anything else that’s happening for them that is making it hard for them to make decisions?
Just have a child who is strongly attached to their toys (and sometimes even rubbish) but has too much stuff in their room. Let them know they don’t have to get rid of anything right now.
Instead suggest that they choose some toys to pack away and store out of their room. Put them in a storage container out of sight. You may find those items are much easier to declutter in 6 months or 1 years time.
Making choices about what stuff we keep and what stuff we let go of, is not easy! Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many adults that live in cluttered homes. Yet teaching our kids these principles of decluttering and organising, will hopefully lead to life time benefits.
More Help With Decluttering
- Toy Declutter: Before & After
- How To Declutter Kids Books
- Benefits of Living With Less
- The Container Concept
Step 3. The Fun Part! Organise And Display All The Stuff You Love!!
Decluttering with kids is tiring! Depending on your stamina, how hot the weather is etc. you may want to do this part on a different day.
We left the organising for another day as I was still in the process of finding the right pieces of furniture for Miss K’s room. We put all the keep items in a vintage suitcase ready to be organised and put away another day.
Organisation Tip: Make sure everything item has a home.
Here are some suggestions for keeping groups of items contained and displaying favourite items. You could use any of the following for storage or display.
- plastic storage containers
- magazine holders
- small trays or containers with lids for fiddly items
- pinup boards for hanging items to be displayed
- wall hooks
- picture ledges
- shoe boxes or even cereal boxes
It may take a bit of trial and error to work out the best way of storing items. But making it easy to put things back where they belong is more important than making those things easily accessible in the first place.
When it is all finished and your child can successfully declutter their room, take time to celebrate! Enjoy what a difference it has made and appreciate the effort that has gone into it. Maybe even take an after pic if you want.
Remember, being able to successfully declutter their room takes practice!! You will need to go through the process again as they get older.
Monday 7th of May 2018
I used old tackle boxes to organize our lego into colours and small pieces. They kids love it.
Thursday 10th of May 2018
That is such a great idea Amanda for organizing toys with lots of little pieces like Lego!