One of the most common questions I’m asked and biggest pains of the modern day mama is where the hell do I put all of this STUFF?? The ‘decluttering with kids’ struggle is real.
Along with babies and kids comes a lot more stuff than we’re used to having. They grow and change and learn so fast that the ‘things’ quickly accumulate.
My answer to this: You need to get rid of it!
At least some of it anyway..
It doesn’t matter how much concealed storage or how many gorgeous baskets you have (and ya’ll know how much I love me a pretty basket), it ain’t gonna cut it. Eventually all of the loving gifts, school projects and hand-me-down clothing from your cousin will end up taking over your home and your sanity!
So here’s my step-by-step guide to decluttering with kids.
BEFORE YOU START
Tell your kids that you’re going to be decluttering
It sounds simple but tell them what you are going to do! Use the word decluttering so that they understand it. Explain the benefits to them such as how much easier it’s going to be to find their favourite toys and how much faster it will be to clean up.
Get them involved
Make it fun for your kids by allocating jobs for them. They always love to help – at least when they’re little anyway! It may take a bit longer for you this way but you’ll be teaching them how to do it themselves. Hopefully this pays off when they grow up and decluttering is second nature to them.
Let them choose their favourite items
For each of the sections below let them pick out their absolute faves. It’s much harder to choose things to get rid of than it is to pick out your most loved belongings! Once they choose it’s important that you do not get rid of these items (unless of course they’re broken or dangerous). You don’t want to scar them for life by throwing out their most loved teddy!
Don’t get overwhelmed
If you’re anything like me you want it all done NOW. But it’s seriously not a race. Even one basket or drawer a day makes a huge difference, starts the ball rolling and will make you feel lighter. Work through each area as time permits. You might be able to smash out a room while the bub naps or just sneak in a few baskets in the toy room while they play. Whatever you can do, it’s all good.
Build decluttering in to your schedule and routine
It is an ongoing process and to be honest it never ends BUT if you make it part of your life it gets much faster and easier. It might be once a month or once a season, whatever works for you. But make sure you schedule it in! It’s super easy for me to tell when I need to have a quick declutter now. If I start to feel overwhelmed and like I can’t tidy anything properly, I know it’s time to have a clean out.
Pop on some music, pour a glass of wine or grab a coffee (or a green smoothie!) and enjoy the process. It really doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming. And I promise Mama, you will always feel so much better afterwards!
HOW TO DECLUTTER – BY CATEGORY
Ok, now to the nitty gritty!
Here’s what you need to do for each category of child-related clutter. I’ve broken it down in to the four main culprits: Toys, Clothes, Art & Crafts and Books. But really these guidelines will help you get started with any area of your home.
- Sort by type of toy. For example all cars, all dolls, all lego etc
- Keep all of the same type of toy together. It can be in a basket, box or shelf, it doesn’t matter.
- Have an allocated home or area for everything. That box of cars? That goes in the cupboard. That basket of blocks? That goes on the second shelf. And so on.
- If possible keep all the toys in one room or area of the house. This can be a play room, on one side of the bedroom, a play area off of the living room or wherever best suits your home.
- Have one box with a small mix of toys that can be moved throughout the house. This is great for when you want to watch them play while feeding or if you have visitors. It also stops toys being scattered all over the house.
- Discard, donate or sell toys that are:
- Broken or easily broken. No brainer.
- Duplicates. You don’t need two play kitchens or two dolls houses. This doesn’t apply to sets or collectibles.
- Not age-appropriate. If your child is not ready for that toy yet, pack it away til they are. If they’re too old for it, either pack away for your next babe or pass it on.
- Never used. If a toy is never played with you can try moving it to an easy-to-see and easy-to-reach position for a week. If your kids are still not playing with it, time to say goodbye.
- Single use. Also known as uni-purpose. These are usually fancy looking toys that only do one thing and don’t encourage imaginative play. They are usually played with a little bit when first received but kids quickly become bored with them.
- Overstimulating. Toys that are loud, noisy and have flashing lights or other over-stimulating and distracting features. Children just don’t need that. You can either remove the batteries or get rid of them.
ART & CRAFT
- Have one area allocated for art & craft supplies storage. It might be a cupboard in the playroom or drawers near the kitchen table. As always, whatever is best for your family.
- Once the area starts to get full, it’s time to declutter again. This is a good indicator of too much stuff coming in and not enough going out.
- Sort and store everything by type. Same as with the toys, this makes organising and finding much easier.
- Keep art and craft creations for an allocated amount of time. This might be for a week or a fortnight. Put them on display somewhere so they can be viewed and admired. But once the time is up you should:
- Name, date and photograph to store digitally. Explain to your kids that this is a way that you can keep them forever! Of course, feel free to keep anything super special but for the majority this is the best way to go. Not only does this reduce clutter but it allows us to avoid the guilt that inevitably arises when dealing with sentimental items. Which leads me to my next point!
- Let go of guilt around discarding items! Anything hand-made with love by our babies holds a special place in our heart so of course this can bring up guilt when it comes to letting go. This is why I love digital storage so much! We get to appreciate their master pieces forever minus the clutter. But it’s also worth a gentle reminder that when we get rid of belongings that we associate with our children and fond memories of their childhood, it doesn’t mean that we love them any less! Or that we are going to forget those moments or value them any less. I’m not saying you should get rid of everything, just to be kind to yourself if you are feeling pulled to clear these items out. It’s ok babe, you don’t have to feel guilty.
- Get rid of:
- Broken crayons and pencils
- Dried up textas, markers, paints and glue
- Small, broken or dangerous bits & pieces
- Items that are never used
- Any glue, markers or paints that are not non-toxic and specifically for children
- Have one main area where all books are kept. This can be where the books are most often read or simply where you have the room. It can be a bookshelf in the playroom or a cupboard in the lounge room, wherever’s best for your family.
- Have one or two other areas with a small amount of books. You don’t have to do this but more often than not there are several places in the home where books are read. This could be one shelf next to your child’s bed or a basket in their reading nook. Wherever they like to read!
- Swap the books in the ‘other’ areas every month or so. This gives your kids a chance to read all of the books they own and keeps it fresh so they don’t get bored. You can keep their faves there all the time and swap out the others to ensure all of the books are getting a turn. It’s also an easy way to identify books that your children don’t read and makes it easier when it comes to culling.
- Discard, donate or sell books that are:
- Torn or damaged
- Not age-appropriate
- Never read
- Inappropriate content
- Remove all clothing from your wardrobe, drawers and anywhere else that you might have some hiding. Don’t forget the laundry!
- Sort by type of clothing. Once everything is all pulled out, sort them in to type before you start culling e.g. all shorts, all skirts, etc. This makes duplicates easy to identify and allows you to see exactly what you own before making any decisions.
- Discard, donate or sell clothes that are:
- Stained, ripped or damaged
- Incorrect size. If too big, pack away and store until they fit. If too small, keep for next babe or move on.
- Uncomfortable. If it has a big bow on the back and your baby is only 2 months old, it’s probably not practical for them when they’re laying down all day!
- Never worn or used
To help you get started I’ve popped all of this info in to a handy printable checklist! Just enter your email below and I’lll send it straight to your inbox so you can get started right away!
I’d love to hear how you go with your decluttering or any other tips you might have so leave a comment below or come say hi over on Insta! You’ll be feeling calmer and lighter in no time 🙂