Let’s face it, very few kids are organized by nature. Keeping their belongings neat and orderly just isn’t a priority to them – if they even know what those words mean in the first place!
As a parent, you probably understand the importance of keeping some order even when it comes to your belongings. Realizing that your kids’ rooms are cluttered and unorganized may give you the impulse to simply run in and purge old toys and toss together everything else, but resist this urge! Your children’s things are theirs, and just haphazardly tossing things away may be hurtful to them, even if they haven’t touched that particular toy or read that particular book in years.
So what to do? How to bring some order to the chaos? Here’s some tips:
Identify the important. The first step in de-cluttering is identifying which toys and other possessions are truly important to the kids. What do they play with, what do they love? Then get rid of as much of the rest as possible, keeping only those they use and love. But remember, you do need to get the kids involved in this process. It’s easy for you to think that a particular toy is no longer used, when in fact, it could be greatly missed.
Children of course are hesitant to toss out anything, not realizing that even if they got rid of half of their items they’d still be left with quite a bit! So be delicate in this process. Ask them to choose one thing they no longer want, then make it two. Have them choose between two toys so they feel as if they’re keeping something, not throwing something away.
You might also implement the rule that for every two new things they get, they need to get rid of one old thing.
Donate! Find a local charity that you can give some things to. This can also help with the child’s attitude of getting rid of things, if they know that their old doll or teddy bear won’t be thrown away but will go to another child that will really love and appreciate it. Older children especially can be taught this lesson of giving.
Leave space. When you put the important stuff back, don’t try to fill up each drawer, shelf or closet area. Allow there to be some space around the objects. It’s much nicer looking, and it leaves room for a couple of extra items later if necessary. Also, this lets the children get used to the idea of having some room, not of stuffing every corner with a “thing.”