I was reading an article about kids and minimalism and it made me think about my own kids and how we have dealt with clutter and organizing their spaces throughout the years. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on Kids and Clutter and how making them responsible for their own space helps them in other parts of their life also. Having 8 kids I have had ones who keep their rooms neat and tidy most of the time and others who you couldn’t see their bedroom floor most of the time. Here are my 7 tips to help your kids gain control of their space and have an environment they feel comfortable and peaceful in.
Set an Example – We can’t expect our kids to keep their spaces neat and tidy if we don’t keep ours that way. By keeping the rest of the house decluttered and organized you are setting an example for your kids and it’s also something they will become accustomed to. Let them see you putting things away promptly, tidying up when necessary, and have them help you be responsible for the family areas.
Start with the Easy Stuff – Your kids will be more likely to stick with the task if you start with the easy stuff so they can see a fast improvement. Have a garbage bag ready for garbage, old school papers, broken toys, etc. Another quick area to declutter is clothing. Toss any worn or stained clothing in the garbage bag and place outgrown clothing in a donation bag. Return anything like cups, extra blankets, or anything else that doesn’t belong in their room to where it goes. They’ve got a really good start to decluttering already.
Teach them to Share with Others – Now it’s time for the more difficult items: toys, games, art supplies, books, etc. Once you can get them to realize there are children who need what they have and no longer love, it is usually easier for them to be generous with their things. Have them make 3 different piles of their toys: keep, giveaway, undecided. Then move onto games, art supplies, books, and anything else that is stored in their room. We like to go through this process twice a year, Spring and Fall. We have always made it a point to donate our gently used items to a charity or others in need, so our children hopefully have that though in their minds while we’re cleaning up their space.
Assist them in their Decisions – Even if you have taught them to share the things they no longer play with, it can still be difficult for them to make decisions. Remember those piles of undecided things? Go through that pile with your child helping them to decide what to keep or give away. Ask these questions: When was the last time you played with this? Why is it special to you? Do you think someone else would enjoy this more than you? My kids have a box they can put things in that are special to them. It is their decision what they think is special enough to keep. I also remind the younger ones if they are too old for a toy it can go in their box or be shared with someone else.
Talk with them about New Purchases – As we’re decluttering we have a conversation about having space for gifts or new purchases. Sometimes it’s easier for younger children to get rid of their things if they know they are making room for new things. Before Christmas and their birthday is a good time to do this. We’ve also decided as a family that we enjoy spending time together participating in activities or going on trips. Those are often used as gifts instead of something physical taking up space.
Teach them to take Pride in their Room – Once the room is decluttered and organized remind them how good it feels to have space to play. As they get older sometimes they are embarrassed to have their friends over if their room is messy. Remind them how if they want to feel comfortable having friends over they should keep it tidy. They should have a decision in how it looks even if you want it to look a certain way. Give them choices you approve of when it comes to colors or themes and you will both be happier.
Schedule Time to Do it Again (and again) – When my kids were younger we would schedule time to declutter, now that they are older they do it on their own. They will bring me a stack of things to donate or will pass down books to their younger sibling. They are really good at decluttering and keeping their rooms tidy. My mind is clearer and I feel calmer in my home when it’s decluttered and organized and I think kids feel the same way. Our homes should be a refuge where we feel comfort and peace and I believe our kids want to feel the same way in their rooms.