bins of colorful toys

Decluttering with Kids: Engaging Them in Organizing to Get Rid of Kid Junk

Kid clutter can be such a problem because kids’ toys, books, stuffed animals and plastic do-dads seem to accumulate overnight.  

And it’s no surprise that kid clutter can be overwhelming because of the sheer quantity of it!

Plus kid clutter is unique in that there are so many random pieces and parts that aren’t usually related to each other.  So putting like with like is hard, making it hard to organize everything.

Kid Organizing Strategies

Strategies for culling kid clutter include having ninja like stealthiness and whisking away some of the junkier stuff (Hello, fast food toys!) or taking the time to teach your kids how to make decisions on what to keep.  

I usually choose the latter when working with kids.  

It might be easier to make the decisions for them and pitch it all, but they would be missing out on an opportunity to learn an important life skill.

If you’ve been following me for long, you know about my belief that our society teaches us very well to consume and accumulate stuff, but a horrible job teaching us how to make decisions on how to part with that same stuff when it is time.

If kids don’t learn how to make decisions on how to deal with their stuff, they will be dysfunctional and disorganized adults and it will spill over into other parts of their lives outside of a messy home.

So how do you teach kids this life skill, especially if it is not a well developed skill that you personally possess?


Just like anything else, the more often you practice the strategies, the easier it will be.  

Make it part of the routine.

Around birthdays and other holidays, where gifts are anticipated, work with your kids to get rid of things they are done with or no longer want before the deluge of new stuff comes through the door.

Or make it part of a weekly room cleaning routine.

The worst thing about kid clutter is that it takes over really quickly, so keep this in mind when setting a routine.Keep at decluttering on the regular.

Questions to Ask When Decluttering Your Child’s Belongings

How to make the decision of what to keep versus what to let go of?  

Go for the low hanging fruit!

But what qualifies as low hanging, easy no brainer decisions?

Let go of anything that’s:

  • Broken or nearly broken
  • Missing pieces or components that make play difficult or imposible
  • What your kids are too old for. If your kiddo is playing with the regular Legos, perhaps it is time to put the Duplos away?
  • Anything your kids are done with – if the box it came in remains the most engaging part of play, let go of that toy!

How to find out the answers to these questions?

Ask your kids!

If they know that this ia part of the regular routine of life, they won’t roadblock you.

Set natural limits and don’t get rid of things just to get rid of things.

Play a Decluttering Game

Kids respond really well to games, so do your best to turn the decluttering experience into a game!

It’ll seem less like a dreaded and unpleasant chore and more of something they’re excited to do with you.

Challenge your kids to quickly pick five things they are ready to let go of.

The items have to leave your house and cannot be given to a sibling.

My oldest always tried to get away with not letting go of anything by giving it to his younger brother.

While it is nice to share, that doesn’t exactly count for getting rid of the items since he was trying to procrastinate decluttering.

Keep challenging your child to let go of additional items, but don’t push your luck and ask for too much!

Layer on another game and aim to declutter for 15 minutes or less, following the rules of the Timer Game.

Practice What You Preach

Next, don’t expect your kids to do what you won’t.

If you’re only ever asking them to declutter, but you aren’t following a similar routine, then you’re missing out on an important opportunity to walk the talk.

You really need to demonstrate to your children that decluttering and letting go of broken or unwanted items is normal.

After Decluttering

Once some of the clutter has been cleared, you can organize the remaining belongings just as you would anything else.

Sort like with like, containerize and then label!

Speaking of labels, may I recommend a fantastic set that will help bring your space together quickly?

I love these printable toy organizing labels.

They help bring the random clutter into order pretty quickly.

The labels have both words and pictures, so they’re perfect for pre-readers!

Ready for more strategies for organizing kid spaces? Read the article for 8 additional tactics to incorporate Ito your next organizing session with your kids!

Over to you!

Hope this article has given you a different way to approach decluttering your children’s belongings and useful strategies for boosting your overall organization.

Additional Resources for Managing Kid Stuff

This post focuses primarily on cutting kid clutter mostly of the toy variety, but I have other solutions to bring other types of kid clutter under control too!

If your child’s room is overrun with nothing either too big or too small that you’re saving for when they can fit into the clothing or for the next kid, then check out this kit!

Inside you’ll find a simple system for bringing order to the clothing situation in a snap!

Kid clutter also comes in the form of school papers, sports medals and other memory items. Corral everything into one system with this kit!

Get your copy here:

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