5 Tips for How To Get Kids Decluttering

It’s time, you know it is.  You can feel it!  You are ready to get your house in order.  The piles of paper on the counter have to go.  The outgrown shoes in the mudroom need to leave.  The excessive amounts of toys, crafts, and trinkets in your kids’ rooms need to be decluttered.  This isn’t a job (or responsibility) just for you, it’s one to be shared.  How do you get your kids involved in decluttering?

How Can You Get Your Child To Declutter

Let’s face it, our kids are not exact carbon copies of us.  They think differently, can be more sentimental, and have different priorities. 

I am all about getting things I don’t use or love out of my house.  My daughter is all about keeping every little thing.  The tiny carved turtle from Mexico is special because her cousin gave it to her.  A star made of folded paper is important because she made it at camp. Finding Nemo Crocs that no longer fit her need to stay because “she loves them so much.”  She associates her stuff with memories of a time, place, or person.

Barriers & Solutions To Get Kids Decluttering

We all have barriers to decluttering, adults and kids alike.  If you want to get your kids on board with decluttering, figure out why it’s important to them.   Are they tired of moving stuff around their room?  Maybe they hate the feeling of their favorite t-shirt or beloved toy being “lost.”  Maybe they want to have to clean their room less often or spend less time cleaning it in general.  Identify what matters to them and explain how decluttering will help them achieve it.

Here are a few barriers that might hold your kid back from decluttering and the solutions to fix them!

Barrier Solution
Overwhelmed – child doesn’t know where or how to start
  • Partner with your child and figure it out together.
  • Break down the work into kid-friendly tasks e.g. identify 5 pair of shoes that no longer fit you, are worn out, or you don’t wear
Emotional Attachment – child is sentimental and wants to keep everything
  • Provide a dedicated container e.g. plastic bin for your child to store their keepsakes.  Once the container is filled, they will need to prioritize what to keep and what to discard.
Someday Syndrome – child wants to keep just in case they need it in the future
  • Ask your child questions like: When was the last time you used it? How frequently did you use it? What would happen if you didn’t have it? Is there something else you could use in its place or is it easily replaceable? Do you like it?
  • Give your child a deadline. If he doesn’t use the item by  X date, then it’s time to discard.

5 Tips To Get Kids Decluttering

Model the Process

One of the best ways to inspire your kids to keep a tidy space is to be an example to them. Model the process by discarding clothes you don’t wear, shoes you don’t use, or items that you no longer love or enjoy.

Talk to your kids about it as you are decluttering a space.

  • “Do you know why mom declutters?”
  • “Keeping our home tidy is important to me because…”
  • “I love the feeling after I’ve decluttered and organized a space because …” (I have more time, I can find things I need, I only have the things I really like in my space, etc.”

By talking it through with them, as you’re working on your space, you are able to teach and not preach!

Use the Container Method

I gave an example of this in the Solutions and Barriers section.  You provide a container e.g. a plastic bin, a basket, drawer, etc,  and communicate that when the container is full, it’s time to prioritize what to keep and what to discard.

This approach works with:

  • stuffed animals in a basket
  • clothing in drawers
  • boxed games in a cabinet or plastic bin
  • even school artwork that you file in a binder.

Number Game

Specify the number of one particular thing your child needs to get rid of.  For example, “Find 5 books we can get rid of today.”  This works great if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a decluttering project or if you have a young child that needs to start with an easy task.

One Thing In One Thing Out

This is another easy way to involve your kids in decluttering.  It doesn’t take much time and helps keep stuff from accumulating in their rooms.  When they bring something new home, they need to identify something to get rid of. 

The other day, my daughter asked me if she could keep a stuffed animal from her grandmother’s house.  I said, “Sure, but you’ll need to get rid of one of the stuffed animals you already have.”

She thought about it and then decided to leave the new one at her grandmother’s for our next visit.  There were no arguments or drama, she was in control.  I just set the guideline.

One Final Decluttering Tip

One last way to encourage your children to get on the decluttering bandwagon is to talk about the benefits your things can be to another person.  Your kids may have an excess of some things e.g. clothing, toys, books, you name it.  There are other kids, that don’t have those types of things.  Share how this “toy” may just be sitting in his room, not being played with by him when it could be greatly enjoyed by another boy who doesn’t have many toys. 

Here are some other options of ways to get rid of unwanted stuff after decluttering.

Keeping Your Kid’s Toys, Crafts, and Stuff Organized

Often, decluttering and home organization goes hand in hand.  If you want your kids to keep their space decluttered and tidy, a few simple guidelines can help them.

  • Everything Has A Home – Make sure there’s a home for everything
Quote from Mrs. Beeton " A place for everything and everything in its place."
from 24 Home Organization and Decluttering Motivational Quotes

If their stuff doesn’t have a designated place like, books go in this cubby, socks in this drawer, trinkets in this box, then clutter will accumulate quickly.  By designating a home for each item in their bedroom or play area they have a better chance of keeping their room free of clutter.

  • Put It Back Rule – Encourage your kids not to set things down but to put them back where they belong. Reinforce this practice regularly. 
  • Build their Clean Up Muscle – Establish routines that train your kids to pick up after

Examples include:

  • taking their plate to the sink after a meal
  • putting up their toothbrush and toothpaste after brushing their teeth
  • picking up toys after they pulled them out

Build times into the schedule to have them put things back before moving onto the next activity.

Pin Me For Later!

Kid finished decluttering and has a box of things to donate. With text 5 tips for Getting Your Kids to Declutter

Decluttering doesn’t need to be something you do by yourself.  You can train your kids to be part of the process.  As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.”  Kids may be more sentimental than you and have a hard time letting go.  Use containers and break tasks down to smaller more manageable pieces to help them not get overwhelmed.  Get your kids on board and in the routine of decluttering to save time, end the struggles of trying to find things, and keep your home tidier.






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