When you’ve got kids, the war on clutter can feel like a losing battle. It accumulates subtly one worksheet or drawing at a time until before you know it, you’re surrounded by school papers.Toys, laundry, books and stuffed animals begin to take over the house. Recruiting your child to help tackle this monster not only reduces your workload but teaches them valuable skills that will keep them organized into adulthood.
There are also health benefits to be gained from decluttering. According to science, being in a clean, organized space can reduce anxiety, encourage productivity and even boost personal confidence. The whole family benefits! For children, having a tidy room and play area is calming and helps them focus on one task at a time.
For families short on time but high on clutter, get your kids involved in these 10-minute or less tasks:
1. Give your child their own inbox. Papers make up a large part of household clutter, especially when it comes it’s school-related. Permission slips, reminders, homework, book orders and more get shuffled into household papers like mail, lists, receipts, and warranties. Get a simple inbox from any office supply store and help your child decorate it to make it a special place for all the papers they bring home. It may take a few reminders but even young children will soon learn to put all their special papers there. Keeping important papers separate and organized is a life-skill everyone can use! For parents, it means no more lost school papers!
2. Designate a clutter-free surface in your child’s room. Having a clear, clean space is as important for children as it is for adults. With your child, choose a surface to completely clear, free from anything that isn’t used daily. If the item has a place, have your child put it away. If it doesn’t have a place, help your child choose one. Once the surface is clear, it has to stay that way. Everything must be put away. This surface might be a play area, craft table, desk or even a shelf. Once your child has gotten used to this practice, choose another area to tackle together.
3. Get kids involved in laundry duty. Laundry is something that accumulates quickly especially in households with multiple children! Turn dirty laundry pick-up into a game with a race to bring it all to the laundry basket. Doing laundry is its own reward as many kids love pouring soap, pressing buttons and turning dials which is not only fun but helps them feel important. As they get older, they can learn more about taking care of their own clothes and helping with household chores.
4. Designate a donation box. Create a special place to keep toys, clothes and books your child doesn’t use until it’s ready for donation to family, friends or local charities. Sit with your child and help them choose toys they don’t play with and books they don’t read that can go to other children to enjoy. Structure a set of guidelines, such as your child can remove anything they regret donating, but must replace it with a different item, the box can never be empty, etc and establish how long before the box is donated, two-weeks or a month is ideal. This not only helps your child focus on the items they truly value but teaches them the skill of learning to let go. They can feel good that another kid will get to enjoy their toys, games and books after they’ve gone.
5. Make it a game. This is perfect for getting kids involved in the cleaning process. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and everyone races around trying to put away the most objects. Make rewards small but desirable, like sitting at a special place at the table or choosing a movie for everyone to watch. This engages the whole family in teamwork and decluttering and children from toddlers to teens can participate.
Teaching young children basic organization skills in a fun and engaging way will help them grow into capable adults. Small steps can make a big impact over time. Your child will learn to enjoy clean, clutter-free spaces and you’ll have an extra pair of hands to help out.
What’s your biggest clutter trap? Do your kids help out with household tasks? Let us know in the comments.