Clutter Challenge: The Kids’ Rooms

Hello, Readers!  Okay, today’s topic is one we all dread: our kids’ rooms.  They can be filthy at times, with toys and books and clothes everywhere, not to mention food or drinks if they happen to sneak them in.  They can be a disaster zone!  Most of us just want to close the door and never look again.  But we can’t; it has to be addressed.  And for good reason.

Okay, so confession time: I was a slob as a little kid.  I hated cleaning my room when I was ordered to do so.  In fact, I often crammed things in corners or hidden nooks and crannies (like under the bed) when I was little.  And my parents often got on me about my room.  About how dirty it was.  The order “go clean your room” didn’t matter to me.  My idea of cleaning it was to shove everything under the bed or in the closet.  I had more important things to do as a kid than clean my room, right?

Well, the truth is that I didn’t really understand what it meant to clean my room when I was little.  Sure, I had chores as a kid, but they were direct and focused: set the table with plates, silverware, cups, and napkins; feed the dogs and the cats in the morning; turn on the coffee pot in the morning; take the dishes from the table to the sink; help load the dishwashwer/do dishes.  And from what I’ve learned, that’s what all parents do: we give our kids direct orders when it comes to their chores.

So, why don’t we do the same thing with their rooms?  And why not help them get started?

That’s where we really do need to be better parents.  Our kids will never learn what it means to “clean their room” if we don’t give them a direct order and teach them how to properly clean their room.  So, where do you start?

You start by decluttering.  I know this sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it does and it will.  First, you need to go through their toys and figure out answers to the following questions:

  1. Is it broken? If yes, then can it be fixed?  If it can’t then put the toy in the toss pile.  If it can be fixed then fix it and move on to the next question.
  2. Is it the right age for them?  If not, then is it too young for them?  If it’s an older toy that is too young for your kid, then put it in the donation pile.  If it’s too old for them, then prepare it for storage until they are old enough for the toy.  If it’s the right age then move on.
  3. Is it well loved and played with often?  If so, then add it to the keep pile.  If not, then put it in the donate pile.
  4. Now, go through the donate and toss piles and ensure that their favorite toys are not there.  Maybe they have a favorite teddy bear that came home with them, or they have a toy train set made by a family member or friend.  Whatever the case, make sure their favorite toys or any sentimental toys are kept in their keepsake box or memory box.  This shouldn’t be every toy, but you should know by now which toys are favorites or are beloved.  With those broken toys, make sure that the toy is still put together well enough to keep the toy.  A missing eye on a teddy is much different than a missing arm or a snapped train.  If they are beyond keeping, then toss them.

Once you’ve done that, your toy pile should be smaller, though it may not be too small.  Next, try to split up toys based on seasons or uses.  For example, the pool noodle or pool toys are not needed in December, and they should be stored away until they can be used.  The same is true with almost all sports equipment.  Baseball equipment, volleyballs, etc., should be put away until warmer weather returns, and skates and hockey equipment stays out for the colder months.  Another thought is to separate the remaining toys into different piles and store half of the toys away until another time.  By storing half of your child’s toys for another time, you can manage the toy piles, rotate through toys, and prevent too much boredom with your kid’s toys.  Just sort through the toys and separate them into separate piles, such as Lincoln Logs out and Legos packed away for later play, or train sets packed away and matchbox cars kept out for now.

Now, set up a toy storage area in your child’s room.  For us, we have a large, handmade toy chest for Sean in his room.  It holds all of his toys and is convenient for him to open and close, even though he is barely learning to walk.  But, maybe you want to separate toys by type and store them in bins on shelves, or you want to store toys in a chest and stuffed animals in a hammock (we personally have the stuffed toys all kept in a low chair that Sean can reach right now).  Whatever you choose to do, keep it simple and consistent.  It will help your kids keep their rooms organized and clean if you can tell them to put their toys away and they understand what it means.

After finishing with the toys, go through their dressers and their closets.  Again, you want to sort clothes by answering the following questions as you go:

  1.  Is it stained, torn, ripped, shredded, or ruined?  If yes, then can it be repaired or patched?  If not, then toss it, or consider keeping one pair of pants and one shirt for “painting/cleaning clothes” that they can wear when needed.  If it can be repaired or patch, then fix it and move on.
  2. Does it fit?  If it doesn’t, is it too big?  If it’s too big, then store it until it does fit.  If it is too small, then place it in the donation pile.  If it fits, then move on.
  3. Is it a special occasion garment?  If is for a special occasion to come?  Or has the special occasion passed?  If it’s for a special occasion to come, then place it neatly in the closet or drawers until later on.  If it’s passed, then was it for something extra special (such as their Christening or other special event)?  If it was, then store it in their memory box or remembrance box.  If it was for an event like Easter or Christmas, then put it in the donation pile.
  4. Does your child wear it?  If they don’t wear it, find out why.  Maybe it’s too itchy for them, or they may not like the feeling of the cloth.  If they don’t wear it because it’s too itchy or something similar, take note not to buy it in the future, and put it in the donation pile.  If they do wear it, then move on.
  5. Is it for the right season?  If it’s for summer wear, such as tank tops and swimsuits, then decide whether to store it (if you think it will fit next year) or to donate it (if you know it won’t fit next summer).  And then move on.

Lastly, organize clothes in a way that makes sense and will be easy for your kids to understand.  For example, socks and undergarments in the top drawers, pajamas in the next drawers, shirts underneath that, and finally leggings, skirts, and shorts (if the proper time).  Jeans, sweaters, blouses/button downs, and dresses/suits should always be on hangers in the closet.  And a very last step you should do is to go through the donation pile and throw out any undergarments in it, even if they appear clean and presentable.  Typically, most donation centers will toss these to prevent any concerns with disease or contamination.  Save them a step and toss them in the trash.

Now, the clothing should make sense, including in the closet.  If kept this way, and if you help your kid by putting pictures on the front or helping them put their clothes away a few times, they will begin to understand the purpose of putting their clothes in the proper location.

And, finally, we come to the books.  When it comes to this, ask yourself the following questions as you go through the books:

  1. Is it damaged, ripped, torn, or broken?  If so, then can it be repaired?  If not, then toss the book.  If so, then fix it and move on.
  2. Is it the right age group?  If not, then is it too old for them?  If so, consider putting it in storage or adding it to your own book cases.  If it’s too young for them, then consider adding it to your donation pile.  If it’s the right age group, then put it back on the shelf or in the keep pile.
  3. Does it have sentimental meaning?  If so, then consider storing it in their memory box or remembrance box, or consider keeping it on their shelves.

Lastly, consider organizing their books in a certain order.  Maybe you want to organize based on subject matter or purpose.  Maybe by author.  Whatever you choose, make it consistent and easy for your kids to understand.  And, by now, your kid’s room should be decluttered and much cleaner.

So, tell me Readers, have you done something similar in your kids’ rooms?  I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,



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