Decluttering is hard. Decluttering with kids is even harder. When we start to sort through our kids belongings, we get nostalgic, they discover how much they really love that thing they never played with for the last year, and letting go becomes hard. The following 5 tips will help you to declutter your kids' rooms with less stress and more fun!
1. Start With the Garbage
Starting with the obvious garbage in your kids' room is the perfect way to ease into decluttering. By garbage, I don't mean that pet rock, or the scribble on a piece of paper. Those things may be garbage to you, but very meaningful to your child. If you try to toss that out, your cleaning might be over before its begun.
What I mean is things like a sticker sheet where all the stickers have been removed, a candy wrapper, or used tissues. The things for which there is no other interpretation but that they are garbage. This allows you to jump right in and gets your child used to the idea of throwing things out.
2. Go Through Artwork and School Work once a Year
When your child goes to school or daycare, the influx of artwork and school work can be intense. My son is in preschool and each week he comes home with a folder full of projects. Mid year, it can be hard to determine what is their best work and what is really representative of that year.
Instead, have a bin where you collect all the school work and artwork for the year. Ours is a bin that we keep under Tyler's bed. Determine with your child how many items you will keep to represent that year of school. This can usually be about 5-10 items. Then at the end of the year, you and your child can go through the bin together. You can then choose the items that you will keep and put them in your child's memory box. The rest can be tossed and the bin is all ready for the next school year.
3. Understand that You May be Sentimental About Different Things
Our children are unique and creative individuals. They assign value to things that we may not understand and they are not capable of explaining. Telling your kid that something they love is junk is not the most successful way to go about cleaning. Explain to your children that in order for new things to come into our lives, we have to make space. This is true for many aspects of life.
You can provide guidance, but ultimately the decision should be made by your kids. They will choose what to keep, what to toss, and what to donate. The more often you declutter, the better they will become at making these decisions. Your first cleaning may not have the biggest impact on their room, but you have to start somewhere.
4. Be their Assistant
In line with number 3, different kids will want different kinds of involvement from you the parent. Some kids may like to process their things on their own. You can set them to the task, leave them for a while, and come back to see their work. These kids may not appreciate your input unless it is specifically asked for.
Other kids may want you to do the leg work. You sort through the toys while they play along side of you. Then you offer what you think can be tossed/donated and they give their judgement. It's important to follow the lead of your child in order to facilitate a successful cleaning. No matter how much gets tossed/donated, praise your kids for their kindness and hard work. Also, comment on how much better the room looks and feels.
5. Let Your Kids Deliver Donations
Once you have sorted through everything and you have set aside the items to be donated, it's important to actually donate them. Don't just chauffeur them around in your car for months on end until you finally remember that they are there. Make sure the donation gets delivered.
It's also helpful to have your kids with you to perform the donation. Letting your kids see the impact they are making and how appreciative others are for their kindness will encourage them to be more generous in future cleanings. It will also demonstrate the benefit of their hard work.
When dealing with your child's belongings, it can be easy to overlook their attachments, and push through what we think should be done with their belongings. It's important to let your child take the lead and determine their own role in the process. Make clear your expectations but don't expect a perfectly clear room in one decluttering. By allowing your child to make the decisions and showing them the benefits of having less stuff, we can encourage even better decluttering in the future.
I hope you feel prepared to tackle decluttering with your kids as part of your spring cleaning process!
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