5 Ways to Tame Your Kid Clutter, While Teaching Them Valuable Lessons

I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest areas of clutter to tame in my house has to do with the tiny dictator that runs our house. Our almost two year old somehow has more stuff than my husband and I combined! Her birthday is coming up soon, so I know that will bring even more stuff. I decided to do a major overhaul of her things recently, and here are some tips that not only helped me, but I’m hoping are teaching her some valuable life lessons as well.

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1.) Get rid of a toy before bringing a new one in: We have a rule where if we buy our daughter a bigger toy (not talking about Happy Meal toys here), that she has to get rid of something before the new toy comes in the house. Right now she is too young to understand, so I just pick something for her. Luckily since she is changing so quickly right now, she “outgrows” a lot of her toys so it’s easy to choose something that needs to go. As she gets older I plan to let her do the picking.

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2.) Don’t buy toys every time you go in the store: I know a lot of parents use toys as a reward for good behavior while shopping, or to keep a kid quiet in the cart for a few minutes. However, in my opinion, this is a bad habit that leads to an expectation every time you go into a store. Sure, there are times Emma Kate gets a special toy or treat, but certainly not every time. We avoid the toy aisle, and I make sure she has things that she already owns to keep her occupied while I shop. Not only does this teach a good lesson, but it keeps random toys you weren’t expecting on having from popping up all over your house from impulse buys.

3.) Find a cause and donate: There are some great organizations out there that will take gently used toys, furniture, books, etc. There may be a family in need in your community that would love to have your child’s toys. Check with a local church or daycare, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Again, this is a great way to teach your kids about families less fortunate than yours, and also get rid of some of the toys they no longer play with.

4.) Have a home for everything: This applies for everything in my house and I discuss it in my book, but I have found when I don’t have a specific “home” for something, I end up just throwing it wherever and that leads to clutter. We use lots of bins and baskets as well as shelves for Emma Kate’s toys. If something doesn’t fit or have a home, we either get rid of things to make room, or create another bin/basket so the toy doesn’t just get lumped in with random things.

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5.) Teach you kids to enjoy experiences and not things: Emma Kate is still a little young to understand this concept, but we would much rather do something fun with her than buy her things. She loves simple things like the splash pad and the playground at Chick-fil-A. These things are entertaining for hours and don’t clutter up your house. Our kids really just want our time and attention anyway, so save yourself some money as well as space in your home, and expose your kids to new experiences. Those memories will last forever!

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QOTD: What is your best tip for taming kid clutter?

Tips for De-cluttering Your Home

About a week or so ago, I randomly came to the conclusion that we have too much stuff. The things we have aren’t particularly expensive or fancy…just…STUFF we have accumulated over the past 10 years of knowing each other. Also, we have been in our house almost a year now, and there are things still in boxes that I haven’t touched. I mean really, if I haven’t needed it in a year, there is a good chance it should be tossed anyway.

It’s kind of overwhelming when I think about purging things from my home, and to be honest, I have to be in a particular “mood” to get this done, if that even makes sense (hopefully someone knows what I’m talking about so I don’t feel crazy? Well, at least not crazy in this instance.)

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I decided to just do a little at a time as I felt like it, and start where I felt I could do the most damage…I hit up our bonus room and guest bedroom closets and just started pulling things out. I ended up with a couple of huge piles of things and I already feel better and cleaner. I wanted to share a few tips that I used to help me decide what stays and what goes.

What Stays and What Goes:

1.) Pick a room: Pick a room and focus on it until it’s completely done instead of hopping all around your house. This will help you feel more accomplished once you get a complete room done.

2.) Make multiple piles: I like to make a “donate”, “sell” and “maybe” pile as I sift through my stuff.  Sometimes I end up going through a room and will have a huge maybe pile of things I’m just not quite sure I want to part with. At the end of it after going through everything and having some time to think about the contents of the maybe pile, I can usually go back through and get rid of a large portion of it.

3.) Pick a price: I sell a lot of things locally on Facebook yard sale groups. My rule is if it’s going to sell for under $10, it gets donated. I am not going to sell an item and then spend an hour conversing back and forth with someone about a time and a location to meet, then wasting my gas and money to go meet someone in the Wal-Mart parking lot to sell a stapler for $2. I sell a lot of baby clothes to the local consignment shop so I don’t have to waste as much time handling it myself. Also, my parent shave a used bookstore by their house that you can trade in books for money to use in the store to buy other books. I love it, so I always send my mom books I don’t want so she can go get some different ones. Search around and see what you can find!

4.) Pick a good cause: If you do some searching, you will find lots of places that will take donated items that you may not have even thought of. Find somewhere you really want to help, and that you believe in. It may soften your heart and make you more willing to give up some of your possessions for those truly in need.

5.) Do the wear test with clothes: Turn all your hangers facing a certain way. Then, as you wear an outfit and hang it back in your closet, turn the hanger facing the other way. At the end of the season, anything with a hanger turned the first way (meaning you haven’t worn it all season) pull out of your closet and sell or donate.

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6.) Get rid of multiples: Yes you may need more than one ink pen in your house, but do you REALLY need 50? (guilty.) Do you have 5 of the exact same sized pot? Are you really going to be using those pots all at once to cook, wanna-be Martha Stewart? Consider maybe keeping 2. What about your cups/water bottles/glassware? Yall, I had so many water bottles before we moved last time, it was a sin. I got rid of about 10 and still have too many. I do dishes constantly, so it’s not like I run out of clean ones. GO through your house, especially your kitchen, and consider ditching things you have multiples of.

7.) Get a file cabinet: If you don’t have one already, get one. Yes you, the one with five different stacks of mail, magazines and papers you don’t know what to do with sitting on your kitchen counter. Sit by your file cabinet with a trash can, and make folders for bills, receipts and other important paperwork, and trash anything you will never read again (or won’t read once!)

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I spy a stack of papers!

8.) Clean out that pantry: When we moved a year ago, I was embarrassed at some of the things I found in my pantry that had been expired for a YEAR. a year yall…just let that sink in. The truth is we probably all have food in our pantry that is expired, we didn’t like and never threw out, or we just plain forgot about. Clean out your pantry and stop hiding things in layers behind each other so you can SEE everything in there. The same rule goes for your medicine cabinet. Get rid of expired meds and get a basket for each person in your house to put their medicine in so it’s easy to grab when needed.

9.) Buy some bins: You know those big storage bins with lids? We have a bunch of them in our attic. I prefer the clear ones so I can see the contents, but any will do. Anything in my house that I want to keep but I haven’t necessarily used in the past year like photo albums, keepsakes, etc. go into the bins and into the attic so they don’t junk up the rest of the house. You can even keep an inventory sheet of what is in each container in case you forget or are looking for something. (Keep the sheet in your file cabinet, NOT on your kitchen counter. Smile)

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10.) Get rid of excess toys: Kids rooms can quickly become a breeding ground for toys. I don’t know where they come from…they just kind of…appear… I think a great rule (and this is one we plan to implement when Emma Kate is older) is that when it is Christmas or birthday time, she has to get rid of a few toys before she can get more. It makes sense really, because a lot of the things they were playing with last Christmas they will have outgrown or will be too “babyish” the next year. If you are saving toys for a younger sibling, put them in a bin in the attic, and get them out of your child’s room. Less mess for mom and dad to have to “help” clean up when there aren’t as many toys to make a mess with! I would involve your kids in this and not just take toys form their room if they are old enough to understand. If you are donating, explain that there are other kids who don’t have toys that would so enjoy the ones that they don’t even play with anymore. A great learning experience and lesson on giving!

QOTD: What is your best tip for de-cluttering your house? Ok I’m off to put some of my tips into practice!