When I first read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I started decluttering our entire home, Barry was 100% on board. I actually think he wanted me to start this process 12 years ago…when we got married.
But then, there was Annie.
Let me tell you about my Annie (age 6) – she’s a firecracker, a smart cookie, an actress in the making….and a PACK RAT. She would save anything her little hands grabbed hold of: junk mail, broken toys, wormy chestnuts (yup), toilet paper tubes, empty packaging, you name it.
I thought, “Annie is going to FREAK OUT.” But guess what? We didn’t encounter the fight that I thought we would.
I know the struggle is real – because you’ve asked me here on the blog and over on Instagram as I share our decluttering pictures: BUT STACY!!! WHAT ABOUT MY KIDS?! If you think decluttering with kids is impossible, I’m here to tell you that it’s not.
I want to share with you how we’ve done this alongside our children and made it work – because I don’t think anyone should be decluttering out from underneath someone. Don’t declutter your kids’ stuff (unless they are toddlers/babies) with no help from them or they won’t understand…and they won’t pick up on the new change in your life….and what change is that?
Teach your kids to be happy with LESS. If you do it for them, how can they cultivate that attitude?
You shouldn’t be ripping stuff out of your kids’ hands while they drag behind you holding your skirt screaming like a mountain lion. Okay? Okay. 🙂
Marie Kondo says that if you declutter YOUR life, others will see your happiness and follow suit – including those in your household. And let me tell you – I’ve seen that to be true in the lives of a few of my friends whose husbands were NOT on board at first.
I began talking with Annie while she watched me declutter the house. I started with a few things in our basement while doing that – and then we moved on to toys.
The things I told her to talk up the decluttering?
- If you’re surrounded with less, you’ll be able to play with the things that you REALLY love! We will keep your very favorites. No worries.
- If we declutter, you’ll have LESS to clean up when I say “time to tidy up!” And guys – this is the one that REALLY spoke to her, because she hates spending her time cleaning up. Less cleaning?! YES PLEASE!
- We can donate your unused toys to children who don’t have any of their own – so we can share our happiness with others.
- You can help me and we will decide what is your favorite.
Now, I didn’t do this with my 2 year old or my 9 month old for obvious reasons. I was able to keep their favorites because I see what they play with every day and what they neglect. Neglected toys are not loved toys. Out they go.
So, we started with moving all the toys to ONE location (post coming on this very soon). As we did this, Annie helped me decide what to keep and what went away. Being part of the process really helped her.
“But Mama! I want to keep this! I love it!!!!!” When was the last time you played with that, Annie? Don’t you think another child might play with that every day? We can keep your favorite backpack baby instead. “Hmmm, okay Mommy.”
Things that I didn’t think should be kept, but caused her anxiety when I mentioned getting rid of them? They went into a box – and if she never mentioned them again, we donated them. If she did mention something she wanted, I went and got it for her. Most things she forgot about immediately. Neglected toys are not loved toys.
This is where a Toy Library comes in VERY handy – if your child wants to keep more than you think they should, but they are all loved toys, you might consider a Toy Library so you can rotate loved toys without the clutter of them ALL being out.
So, we were able to declutter the toys and Annie’s room…but, I didn’t want to squash her spirit or creativity – so we came to an agreement.
See this tub? This is Annie’s treasure box tub. In it, she is free to keep anything and everything she likes. BUT, it must fit in this tub. If the tub gets too full, she cleans it out and keeps only her favorites and starts over.
I have found that just being able to completely control this one area has made her totally happy. This is her box. She’s in charge of it. I know it might not work with an older child…but instead of a box, how about a certain area of the house that is completely theirs? A chest of drawers? A closet? Under the bed tubs?
If you have a pack rat, this might be the solution you’re looking for.
However, I’ve noticed that as we’ve decluttered, her pack rat tendencies have dwindled. Not gone away, but dwindled. “We don’t want to keep that because we would have to clean it!” Yup – you got it, baby cakes.
So, let me encourage you other parents out there. This process CAN be done. It CAN be done with children. Do NOT use your children as an excuse for leaving your entire house cluttered and in shambles. They will learn what you teach them.
I’m also in the process of reading Simplicity Parenting and learning what toys are best and how to declutter your child’s ENTIRE LIFE…not just toys, but electronics and outside influences that can harm them mentally at a very young age.
I plan on doing more posts on decluttering with kids – and lots more on how we’re making it work here.
Have you begun the process of decluttering with your kids? How have you made it work in your family?