Declutter Kids' Rooms
While the same basic guidelines
for decluttering apply when you declutter kids’ rooms, some additional
considerations exist as well.
It’s important to involve your
children in the process of decluttering their rooms. It will take more time than it would to do it
yourself, but the benefits outweigh the inconvenience.
Teach Principles of Organization
Make decluttering a learning
experience. Teach basic principles of
Help children begin to
understand how to care for things so that they remain in good condition.
Establish guidelines and systems
for keeping kids’ rooms clean so that your efforts don’t go to waste.
Before you begin, briefly explain the process to your children. Children tend to be much more cooperative when they understand what is expected of them.
Check out these pages for a refresher course in organization basics.
The basic process to declutter
kids’ rooms is as follows:
Start with a trash bag, a box
for items you’ll be getting rid of, and a box for items that belong elsewhere
in the house.
- Any toys that are broken
or missing key parts automatically go in the trash, along with any actual trash
you come across.
Trash vs. Treasure
Your kids will undoubtedly try
to argue that some toys are not trash simply because they are broken. For instance, my sons never wanted to get rid
of the Star Wars figurines with missing heads or limbs. Their argument: they played an important role
as victims in intergalactic battles.
My advice is to be reasonable
yet firm. If a toy still gets a lot of
valid play time despite its apparently diminished state (and it’s not in any
way dangerous in its current condition), it’s a keeper. By letting them win the occasional trash vs.
treasure debate, you provide yourself with leverage. Pick your battles.
- Decide beforehand what
guidelines you wish to establish with regards to getting rid of toys. Instead of just telling your kids they need
to get rid of some of their toys, discuss with them the reasons for doing
so. These might include: freeing up
space in kids’ rooms so they have more room to play, decreasing clutter, or
donating to charity. Children have a
tremendous capacity for compassion. If
you’re asking your kids to donate some of their toys to charity, make sure
they understand where the toys will go and who will benefit from them (at least in a general sense). They will be much
more willing to part with things.
- Decide together what
will stay and what will go. Most
children, especially children under the age of eight, have a difficult time
making such decisions. Their natural
tendency toward possessiveness, lack of perspective, and immature reasoning
skills all combine to make the task overwhelming to them. Help them look for toys they really don’t
play with and won’t miss.
Sort Items by Type (including trash and give-aways)
- Establish piles – one for dolls, one for action figures, one
for art supplies, and so forth.
- If a toy comes with multiple parts, group the toy and its
attendant parts together.
Be Prepared for Distractions
Asking children to sort through
toys is an uphill battle. The temptation
to play is just too much for most kids to overcome. They will
get distracted from the task at hand.
Be aware of this before you
start and establish ground rules at the beginning. The younger children are, the less should be
expected of them. They should help you
identify things to get rid of. Their
participation beyond that will be somewhat dependent upon their attention span.
As long as you have their
attention, take advantage of it. Once
their attention starts to wane, it will be up to you to decide if you keep
harping on them to get back to work or just do the sorting on your own.
Older children can be bargained
with. For instance, if they work
steadily to assist you for half an hour, then they are free to play with
whatever they like.
A friend of mine once gave me
some parenting advice that has stuck with me ever since. She said, the purpose of the task is to
strengthen the relationship. If what
you’re doing is driving a rift between you and your child, it’s not worth
it. Step back and reevaluate.
Clean as You Go
- Toys can be germ magnets.
It’s a good idea to use this opportunity to do a little sanitizing.
- This is a good task for kids to do. Provide them with a container of disinfectant
wipes and demonstrate how to use them to clean toys.
Place Like Items Together
- If you
don’t have enough containers for everything, stash the overflow in an
out-of-the-way corner for a day or two until you can get what you need. Keep in mind that the sooner you can get
everything put away, the better. The
kids will automatically be drawn to those piles on the floor, and it won’t take
long before you are forced to begin anew the effort to declutter your kid’s
- Find a permanent home
for everything. Click this link for
detailed guidelines regarding toy storage.
For more information on organizing kids' rooms, check out these pages.
Decluttering kids’ rooms can be
a challenge. If you need to, do a little
every day until you get the job done.
Once the job is done, it will require regular maintenance. Click here for more information on maintaining kids' rooms.
The parental default is to tell
kids to pick up their rooms. This
statement rarely results in success. Be
specific and break the task into manageable chunks. Instead of saying ‘pick up your room’, say ‘pick
up all the Legos®’.
The biggest benefit that comes from the effort to declutter kids’ rooms is the renewed interest kids gain in their toys. Do you feel like your kids are spending too much time watching TV or playing video games? Get them involved in decluttering their rooms and they’ll rediscover all the options at their disposal. One good decluttering session can lead to countless hours of positive play time!
My best wishes to you and your kiddos in your organization efforts.
If you found this page helpful, please consider sharing it on social media. Please leave me a quick comment below as well in the section below. I'd love to hear from you!
For inspiration to fuel your organization efforts, follow my Kids' Room Organization Board on Pinterest.
If you would like help tackling your kids' room organization project, click on the link below to contact me.
Click here to return to Step-by-Step Declutter.
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