If you’re just joining us, this is part two of the kids clutter series. Check out part one here: Setting Healthy Limits with Packrat Kids.
In that post we talked about healthy limits. We talked about how parents are in control of the amount of inflowing stuff, and how taking back control of the influx is step #1.
We also talked about healthy boundaries and included a few ideas for how to start creating those boundaries using a simple family time technique.
Now let’s go a little deeper. Let’s hit up some heavy duty techniques for how to get the kids clutter out of the house. Steps one and two are important. Once you’ve got the amount of inflowing stuff controlled and the clutter contained in the child’s bedrom, it’s time to gently start weeding through the quantities they’ve got left. This is when the big decluttering starts. Here are a few tips:
1 Keep it fun. In my book I include a kids clutter day that has the 10 minute clutter boogie. Here are the quick basics. Every week everyone in the family puts on some music, dances and declutters their stuff for 10 minutes. Afterwards there’s a family outing (think movie night) as a reward.
2 Go slow. If your child’s really attached to their stuff (as most packrats are) it’s going to take retraining their thinking about possessions. Develop a long haul plan for lasting change rather than one giant clutter purge that backslides quickly.
3 Start a toy rotation. Store 50% of the toys away. Every month switch out one tub of toys in the room for one tub of toys in storage.
4 Set a new firm policy that they must clean their room every Saturday morning. As they clean they’ll start to realize that having less means cleaning less which means more Saturday fun time. They may start parting with stuff on their own!
5 Hold a garage sale and ask every member of the family to contribute 30 things. Your child won’t feel picked on, but it will reduce their stash. Keep holding garage sales every few months using the 30 thing strategy until you’ve reduced your children’s things down to a comfortable level.
6 Set a new rule where anything broken or with missing parts is thrown away. This will teach your children to care for their belongings better, and reduce the extra “random” clutter laying around.
7 Read the 10 Clutter Personality Types. See which personality types your child fits in. Start reducing clutter types that do not match their clutter type (ex. declutter the “sentimental” clutter if he/she is a “multiplier”.) It’s easier to part with things that don’t fit within their personality type so it’s a good way to start.
8 Do the money angle (love this!). Teach them to work for their toys. Break it down to the exact amount of time you or your spouse would have to work. So if a toy costs an hour of your salary, give your child the option to “do without” the toy, or work around the house for one hour to “earn” the toy. This will teach them what it’s like in the real world. A powerful lesson and a wonderful skill to teach your children.
9 Do the charity angle. Sit down and have a family meeting. Let everyone know that you want to donate unneeded items to a charity that will benefit needy children. Focusing on the generosity of giving can get your kids to loosen their grips on their old toys. It will also teach them a wonderful skill… sharing and tithing.
10 If all else fails do compromises. Ask if they would mind if you “store” some of their out of season toys for later. It will at least get some of their extra “stuff” out of the house and into storage while you work out an action plan.
11 Warning. Against most advice I don’t recommend decluttering any of their things without their knowledge. My mom did this to me and it made me clutch even tighter to what I owned (and caused a big chunk of resentment). Go the slow way, declutter with their consent and have rational discussions instead. You will show them they are a respected member of the family and increase their self-esteem. Working together you will make much more progress than through battles for control.
12 About the tip above, Jill from Daily Bread has some wonderful advice on a work-around for this. Jill is teaching her girls at a young age (4 and 6) to limit their stuff and care for it. She did a hiding method I really liked. She took the excess stuff they weren’t playing with and “hid it” in a storage box in the garage. If they ask for an item they’ll get it back but if they don’t notice it disappeared then a few months from now she is donating it all. I love the way she has the stuff “waiting in the wings” for a while in case she accidentally decluttered something one of the girls really cared about.
Kids crave love and respect. They want to feel that their voices are heard and their needs are important. They want to be talked to like adults (after a certain age :) and they want their opinions to matter. By taking the long route, and talking to your children about decluttering and simplifying, you will teach them an invaluable skill: how to respect themselves, their possessions and the people around them. The best schooling comes from home.
Part 3 (the last part in the series) will come out next week. Let me know what you think! Are you going to give these ideas a whirl? Have you done some of these before and have feedback to share? Comments make my world go round!
Additional Reading: Check out Jenny from Ex-Consumer with her follow-up post: When Your Child is a Packrat
More News: I’m still getting my new feature set up, The Minimalist Community Spotlight. It’s a fun way to share a little bit about yourself with the “minimalistish” community. It’s for anyone who’s into simple living and slowing down. I would love to get your entry! If you want to be in the spotlight send me a note!
Even More News: Guess what I’m doing this week? I’m reading two sneak previews of books about to be released. The first is by Faith from Minimalist at Home and the second is by Mike from The Art of Minimalism. I’m excited! I’ll tell you all about what I think of them later. The other thing I’m doing is the “guest post not contest” over at Karol’s Ridiculously Extraordinary. It’s been a fascinating challenge because I’ve pushed myself as a writer. So whether I’m one of the three that gets picked or not, it has been an awesome experience to push myself as a writer.