8 Tips For Conquering Kids Room Clutter
1. GET YOUR CHILD ACTIVILY INVOLVED.
Unless your child is under the age of 3, involve your child in helping with the clean up process. Engage them in simple sorting activities that they can do themselves. For example, ask them to gather all of the Barbie dolls and their clothes and sort them into separate containers. They may even find these searching and sorting tasks to be fun! With young children, try to keep tasks simple with only a few steps so that they don’t get confused and frustrated. Actively involving them in the clean up process, will not only teach them valuable organizing skills, but will also help them to remember where to put things away when it is time to clean up on their own. Be sure to give your child plenty of praise as they work for a job well done. Try to make the cleaning up process fun and take breaks if the job is a big one. Kids have short attention spans and may need to be refueled with a special treat after a given task is completed.
2. PERGE, TOSS, DONATE, SELL.
Have a large trash bag available for junk to be discarded. Designate a box for items to be donated or sold and let your child fill it up with unwanted toys. If you are donating the items, explain to them that the toys are going to other children who could use and enjoy them, this will make it easier for them to depart with their beloved toys. Select a charity and have your child come along with you when you drop it off so they take part in the process of giving. If you plan to have a garage sale, tell them that they can sell the toys themselves and keep the money that they earn. I have allowed my children to use their money to purchase 1 new toy as an incentive to sell the old ones. This makes selling their toys fun and we get rid of a whole box of unused toys in exchange for just one toy that they will actually use.
3. CONTROL CLUTTER PROBLEM SPOTS.
If your child has empty space under their bed that inevitably ends up crammed with junk, fill that space with under the bed storage containers so that there is no room for junk to accumulate. Label the containers and fill them with sorted toys or keepsakes no longer needing to be displayed on your child’s desktops. This is a great solution for the multitudes of knick knacks that kids accumulate resulting in desktop clutter, like that bottle of sand art they created two years ago that accidently got shaken up. If they just can’t part with these treasures yet, let them store them under the bed for a while in a container labeled “Keepsakes.” Hopefully after time passes, the items will become less important and your child will eventually be willing to part with them.
4. EVALUATE YOUR CHILDS CLOSET.
Is your child's closet appropriate for their height or is there only one high shelf with a clothes rod that is out of reach? Traditional homes typically have closets that are made for adults rather than small children. Install shelves that are reachable and lower the clothing rod so that your children can hang up their clothes themselves and put their own belongings away. Open shelves or cubbies in kids closets are a great alternative to keeping clothes in dresser drawers, they make clothing not only easily assessable but also easy to put away. Put items that are fragile or are not used often on high shelves out of the way. Frequently used items should always be stored where you child can easily reach them.
5. USE THE RIGHT CONTAINERS.
Get rid of the toy box if you have one, this container is too big, and ends up inevitably being a place
to fill up with a hodgepodge of junk. Use clear, smaller containers with labels for specific items. Do not buy containers until you have completed the sorting process of your project. This prevents you from having to guess at what you need to purchase. If you sort first, you are less likely to buy too many or the wrong kind of containers. Label everything so that your child knows exactly where everything goes. Messes are easier to clean up if everything has an easily identified home. If you have small children, who can’t read yet, you may want to print off pictures of toys on the computer and make picture labels.
6. HELP YOUR CHILD TAKE PRIDE AND OWNERSHIP IN THEIR ROOM.
Let them choose where they want some of their belongings to go, and which items they want to have displayed. Allow them to take part in how their room is decorated and be sensitive to your child’s wishes. Of course this is done within reason, what child doesn’t want the bunk bed-race car-fort combo? Let your child’s room reflect their own personality and preferences. Proud achievements, awards, photos and artwork can be displayed in bookcases and on bulletin boards. If your child takes pride in how their room looks when it is clean, they will be more likely to want to work to keep it that way.
7. MANAGE THE “TOO MUCH STUFF” PROBLEM.
Kids accumulate stuff quickly these days, constantly bringing home art projects, Burger King toys and other treasures. Look around your child’s room, is every nook and cranny filled with stuff? Are walls and desktops
completely covered? Have your child display only his most valuable possessions and put away the rest. Make sure that their room has plenty of empty space on both the walls and tops of furniture. Evaluate the amount of furniture in the room and get rid of anything that is not absolutely necessary. Leave plenty of empty space on the floor of your child’s room to play. If you and your child struggle with discarding old art or school projects, try taking a photo of it before tossing it. This is a great way to make sure that it is not forgotten, and makes the discarding process easier to stomach.
8. KEEP IT UP AND KEEP IT SIMPLE.
This is the most important and challenging step of all, set up a routine schedule for daily clean up sessions to keep your child’s room looking clutter free. For example, every night right before bedtime can be clean up time. Make a “one at a time” rule; tell your child that they cannot take a new toy out of the closet until the one all over the floor is cleaned up. Keeping the daily cleaning up process simple for your child will help them keep things in their assigned homes. Be sure that there is a hamper and a trash can in your child’s room for quick dumping. Leave off the lids of containers that are used often for easy access. Label everything so that containers are easily identifiable.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.