One of our family goals each year is to declutter and simplify our belongings. It seems that every year after the holidays we are drowning in "stuff" and in desperate need of detoxing some of our unused/unnecessary items. It is amazing how quickly we can accumulate things! I wanted to share with you 5 tips that help our family to simplify our home and contain the clutter. Trust me, my two little people can still create a mess like nobody's business, but it is much more manageable when we are organized and intentional with their belongings.
Here are my tips for simplifying your home with kids: 1. Identify the Important: The first step in decluttering is identifying which toys and other possessions are truly important to your kiddos. For about a week, I watched what the kids were primarily playing with and surprisingly they gravitated towards the same items over and over. Once you figure out what these items are, then you can let go of as much of the rest as possible, keeping only those they use and love. I’ve been working with our kids to recognize quality over quantity. We love to buy wooden, classic toys and purge some of our plastic items. I find that the quality is so much better and lasts so much longer.
2. Massively Purge: In the beginning, if you have a lot of kid clutter, you’ll want to go through a massive purge. The easiest way to do this is to block off a day to go through their rooms and play areas. Do one area at a time: a drawer, a section of the closet, a shelf. Take everything out of that area, put it in a pile. From that pile, take only the really important stuff (See Tip 1). Get rid of the rest. Donate it to charity or family shelters if possible. Get some boxes and put all the stuff to donate in there, and when they are full, load them up in your car to donate on your next trip. Then put back the important stuff and tackle the next area. If you do this quickly, you can do a room in a couple of hours. 3. Containers and Bins: The key for us has been to contain the kid clutter. We just had an addition put onto our home that will serve as a school and playroom. One of my first goals with this space was to be intentional with my organization. It is so important to create a space that invites your children to play; sometimes bins are the best way to do this and sometimes displaying specific toys and rotating them can help aide in meaningful, self-directed play. The key is to make clean-up as streamlined and easy for your kids as possible. You can label each bin/basket with the item that belongs there (blocks, art supplies, stuffed animals, Legos, games). If your child isn’t reading yet, you can use picture labels. 4. Teach Them to Clean: This is a work in progress for me. I often find myself cleaning up once the kids are down for the night. I have been making an effort to “teach” Hadley and Nash that they are responsible for their things and therefore need to help with the clean-up process. Does it take longer? Absolutely… but each time we struggle through a clean-up it gets a little better the next time! The bins have made it so much easier for them to find a home for all their items. 5. 30-Minute Cleanups: On Saturdays, do a “30-minute cleanup”. This means that every child has a chore, and the whole family (including parents) pitch in to clean up the house. Set a timer and see if you can do it all in 30 minutes. This gives us a clean house and the rest of the day to have fun.
I hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your decluttering/simplifying process. I honestly think that the minimizing our family has done over the years has truly reduced stress, anxiety, and wasted moments of conflict when it comes to cleaning up and organizing. Our spaces can completely shape our experiences, mood, and well-being; give yourself the gift of letting go of things that no longer serve you and your family. Happy Minimizing, Jessie