Kid clutter can be such a problem because kids’ toys, books, stuffed animals and plastic do-dads seem to accumulate overnight. Kid clutter can be overwhelming because of the sheer quantity and also the fact that it is usually not related to each other (putting like with like is hard!), making it next to impossible to organize.
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, 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.
Questions to ask
How to make the decision of what to keep versus what to let go of? Go for the low hanging fruit: anything broken or falling apart, anything missing pieces that make play difficult or impossible, anything they are too old for (if your kiddo is playing with the regular Legos, perhaps it is time to put the Duplos away?) and anything that they are done with – if the box it came in remains the most engaging part of play, let go of that toy!
Give ’em a challenge
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 count! Keep challenging them to let go of additional items, but don’t push your luck and ask for too much!
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!
Over to you!
How do you deal with clutter? Let’s chat in the comments below.
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