Tackling Kid Clutter

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I’ve never been an organized person.  Let’s be honest, I never will be an organized person.  It’s just not something that comes easily to me.  I have a tendency to become blind to the clutter and chaos as it slowly piles up, and then suddenly feel overwhelmed with what’s in front of me.  That’s the situation I’ve found myself in with my kids’ room.

Photo credit: Chelsea Cross

Facing this level of clutter can be overwhelming, so let’s talk about how to tackle it and start to build systems that help control the chaos.

Categorize items to see what you’re dealing with.

For me, this is always step one in clearing the clutter.  I separate the items into piles for cars, dinosaurs, other animals, action figures/characters, interactive toys like masks and magnifying glasses, stuffed animals, balls, and larger items.  Give each pile a separate part of the room so that you can start to get a sense of which categories are larger, and of which items you have duplicates.

Be brutal in your decluttering.

It’s easy to talk yourself into keeping everything you own.  You paid your hard-earned money for it.  You’ve seen a kid play with it once in the past month.  You remember how cute they were playing with it that one time when it was brand new.  When I’m trying to declutter the amount of things I have in my space, I try to realistically evaluate each item.  I ask myself, will my child notice if it’s gone?  Do they have six versions of this same item?  Will it increase my quality of life if it were to disappear (looking at you Blue’s Clues toy with the annoying song that plays on a constant loop)? 

Photo credit: Chelsea Cross

Go through it again.

Decluttering happens in layers for me.  I do a quick sweep through the items and toss anything that is broken or missing parts.  A second round once I’ve realized I have six different plastic stegosauruses of varying sizes.  A third round because I’m realizing that the pile of stuffed animals is massive, and most of them are never touched.  It’s easy to build on the progress you’ve made once you start seeing the impact you’ve made. 

Invest in organization solutions.

I bought these lidded baskets at Target for $40 each.  As I considered the price, I almost talked myself into buying cheaper fabric bins for the kids’ stuffed animals, but it didn’t feel like a practical solution.  I wanted my kids to be able to see what’s inside of the bin, and have ownership over keeping the stuffed animals inside of their home.  If you have access to power tools and the desire to DIY, I’ve seen “stuffed animal zoos” on Pinterest that employ a similar concept.  I, however, barely have a hammer to my name, so I was willing to pay for something pre-built.

Photo credit: Chelsea Cross

Empower your kids to keep it clean.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be buying some simple labels for all of the bins, in order for my kids to easily know which toy goes where.  I will often tell them that in order to earn a toy they’ve been really wanting, they each need to fill a garbage bag with things they no longer want or play with.  I love to show my kids how exciting it is to transform their space.  I really hype up how much room they suddenly have to play, and how nice it is to sleep in a space that isn’t messy and overwhelming.

Know that it will inevitably need decluttered again.

Kids’ toys accumulate at an alarming rate.  My kids have back to back birthdays, followed shortly after by Christmas.  There will be a time in the near future where I’ll be filling up the bags again, and re-organizing the toys that have stopped living in their proper home.  I try not to beat myself up for the mess the boys create.  We have fun in their room, and sometimes fun comes with a little bit of mess.

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