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How to Cut Kids’ Clutter

Updated on September 28, 2007

Unless you've been living in a cave or are extremely self-disciplined, your kids (like you) probably have a ridiculous excess of Stuff. We can all tell tales of how it used to be when we were kids, but those days are over. Stuff is a modern evil that we constantly must battle. We have become such a consumer society that we are bombarded with Stuff all the time.

Buy Less Stuff

At the same time that we're complaining about our spoiled rotten kids (who knows how they got that way?), we're also doing every last thing in our power to makes sure they have all the dance lessons (and costumes!), dirt bikes, and birthday parties we think we missed out on.

Clutter is nothing but physical proof that we have something. By having something we are worth something. But it's not true is it? Not only will cutting down the clutter make your home a more peaceful place, but you will also be teaching a valuable lesson to your kids.

Stuff doesn't make you happy.

Are your children earning their Stuff? Do they receive gifts on special occasions like birthdays or holidays? Or do you pick something up every time you set foot in a store? Are your kids begging at the store? If so, you may have a problem on your hands. And Stuff galore.

How does it make you feel when you finally get frustrated enough to toss it all into an oversized Hefty and pitch it toward a landfill? Not too good.

Create Zones

Do you get upset when you tell your child to go clean his room even though you know he can't do it himself because it's such a mess? Do you end up cleaning it yourself and then complain that the kid is irresponsible?

Break the room up into zones: dresser, closet, bookshelf, dolls, trains, whatever. The old saying ‘a place for everything and everything in its place' is going to be put to the test.

Once you have established zones, you can spend fifteen minutes at a time de-cluttering. There is great power in being able to accomplish a discrete task. If you are making headway on a big job, you feel motivated to continue. Kids are no different. They're just like us!

Play ‘Keep or Toss’

We play ‘Keep or Toss' at our house. I hold up a toy and say "Keep or Toss". The kids decide, so it's not Mom throwing out their stuff. Before we begin I ask them to really think about the items and whether or not they actually use them. I keep their trust by not tossing things they really want to keep and not trying to talk them into anything. They hold the power.

Once we have a good ‘Toss' pile, we all drive down to the Salvation Army to donate a load of what was junk to us. It will be a blessing to a single mom who can't plop down $20 for a toy. Or if you've got the endurance, have a garage sale. Just don't spend the proceeds on more Stuff!

Take small steps when trying to get rid of your Stuff. You didn't collect it all at once so be patient. And remember, the best way to keep the clutter out is not to bring it in!


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  • Whitney05 profile image

    Whitney 10 years ago from Georgia

    I like the idea of creating zones. It makes the chore look like less work if you think of it like 'I'll clean the closet, then the book shelf, then vaccuum.' Versus 'I have to clean the WHOLE room!!!'

  • profile image

    smiley_rama 10 years ago

    great advice. I will try to follow that. I have the most stress ddealing with the toys clutter. But hey kids are going to be kids only once. I have the rest of my life to keep things straight!!!