Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff the kids have collected in the small time they’ve been on the planet? Is your home overrun with toys, books, and kid’s clothes?
Despite their tiny size, kids sure do collect a lot of stuff. Every birthday and holiday, they are showered with gifts. Stuff comes home from school and daycare every day too; artwork and junk-models can quickly clog up your kitchen counters. And, as for the clothes and shoes, they seem to have way more choice than you, plus they constantly outgrow them all too.
So where do you put it all? If it really has gotten too much, then it’s time for a drastic overhaul. Here are 5 ways to banish the clutter for good.
1. Blitz it All
Desperate times may call for desperate measures. If you need to lose some of the clutter because you are preparing to move home, then professional decluttering service may be on offer with your removal company. They can work with you to take the stress out of moving preparations.
If you prefer a DIY option, then you need to work systematically throughout every room. Divide everything into three categories: needed now; not needed now but will be needed later, or unlikely to ever need again.
In the first category should be the things your children really need: toys that are often played with or particularly cherished and adequate amounts of clothing and footwear without excess.
In the second pile, put the things you’d like to put away for younger or future children. Investing in some sturdy plastic, fully-sealed and lidded storage for attic spaces or the garage is a good option. You need to make sure everything that goes in is clean and completely dry to avoid mold problems. If this isn’t an option for you, look into getting help from local storage facilities.
There are some great options for the items you no longer need at all. Try making a little money through a yard sale, a stall at a baby and children’s market, or an online auction or selling site.
Alternatively, you could donate items to help out those in tough times: a charity shop, a shelter, or the children’s ward at your local hospital, for example.
2. Involve Your Kids
All but the youngest children can and should get involved in the decluttering process. It’s a great time to discuss some important issues of our timesuch as excess and greed; the environmental impact of plastic, and the plight of children who are less privileged.
All this can be explained really gently and in an age-appropriate way. Your child may really like the idea of giving toys away to those who need them more. Some children may initially react less positively but it is important to stand firm, to keep framing the situation positively, and to persist in encouraging them to give up their barely-used possessions.
3. Get the Right Storage
It might be time to overhaul your kid’s storage. Appropriately-sized furniture keeps everything neatly hidden away, so be sure that there is adequate clothes storage in the bedrooms. It’s possible your child may need to step up from the nursery furniture you bought when you were expecting.
For toys, the storage that generally works best for families isa system where individual boxes can be stowed away. Toys can be sorted into themed boxes, pulled out for play, then placed back into the box afterward and returned to the storage unit.
For hallway clutter, some pegs at child-height and some cubby storage for shoes, school bags, hats, and gloves work well.
4. Rotate Toys Regularly
This is a neat hack for encouraging your child to play with a range of toys but also not allowing chaos to reign. Try only allowing access to certain toys for a week or two before stowing them away and swapping others in instead.
You’ll need to find an out-of-reach place where you can store the toys out of rotation. Although this may mean additional work on your part, it will help solve storage issues in the play space.
You’ll notice an amazing effect from toy-rotation: there will be less clutter and your kids will delight in different toys being swapped in. They’ll also pay way more attention to the usually neglected toys. Plus, you’ll notice them broadening their horizons and experimenting with playing in different ways too. This is great for their development.
5. Get Creative with Artwork Storage
Kids love art and you’re proud of their masterpieces too. There’s only so much you can keep, however. Here are some nifty ideas for avoiding consigning it to the trash before you’re both ready.
Get some handy kids’ art frames that double as storage. A current favorite picture sits at the front and older artwork can sit behind it in the storage part of the frame. Alternatively, try using string tacked up on the wall with pictures held in place using tiny craft pegs.
An idea that takes up zero space is to snap a picture of artwork as it is created. You can then display their artwork on a digital frame or create an album or photo-book of their creations ready to show off. This way, there’s no need to keep the actual piece.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Needing to lose some of the clutter is also a sign that your child is growing, developing, and gaining more and more independence every day. While this is exciting, we may feel a little sad that babyhood is disappearing into the distant past. Make sure you make space fora few little mementos: a baby romper suit, the first little pair of shoes and a favorite cuddly toy, for instance. You’ll cherish these forever.
Craig Jones is the Managing Director at Aussiemove, Australia’s largest independent moving alliance. Craig is a respected member of the removalist network in Australia, having served in senior positions, including the President of the removal industries governing body, the Australian Furniture Removals Association (AFRA). With 23 years of experience at Aussiemove, he has the skills and the highly trained team to move families safely and reliably, in Adelaide, across Australia and around the world.