Children can, and usually will, make your desire for a clutter-free home a challenge. No matter how many outfits or toys you manage to mandate, throw away, or give away, kids need clothes, as well as everything else that comes with childhood. Toys, games, bikes, costumes, etc. will be a part of their lives, and will fight to find a place in your space.
For example, my 7 kids wear close to 230 items of clothing. These include their long and short pants, long and short shirts, underwear, socks, shoes, jackets, etc., and most children could care less how hard they are on them throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to have to change an entire outfit after a meal for every kid under 4, and it’s not always an easy task to have the older kids put their dirty and clean clothes away where they go when they are done playing. I say this hoping that I’m not the only parent in existence that lets their children wear the same pair of jeans more than once before a wash.
The kids also have very loving and generous grandparents that show their affection by their love language of giving. My brother and I’s childhood was filled with Transformers, He-Man, Star Wars, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and funny enough, so is theirs. With girls in the picture, I now also have My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shops, and every form of crafting kit you can imagine within my house. Add in miscellaneous toys such as balls, hoops, bikes, cards, and for some reason or another, sticks, pine cones, and rocks, and you have quite a collection of childhood treasures just waiting for an imaginative kid to release their potential. While that’s a lot of toys, especially when you own the whole set of a certain brand, it’s all happily tucked away where it belongs until it is played with again.
That’s the first step towards staying clutter-free with children:
Everything needs a home.
Just like clothing has a dresser to lay in or a closet hanger to hang from, all the rest of a child’s possessions needs a home as well. A home that is purposefully out of sight, and if your smart, locked away. Sounds cruel, right? It’s not. It’s crucial. It’s crucial for you as a parent to not get stuck with the thought that your child will go to his multi-colored toy stand at the front of his bed, pull out a few toys, play with them nicely, and then put them back in the proper place when done. While I commend you for trying to maintain order, there are a few flaws to this method of storage:
1. The bins are usually left out
Many parents believe it’s cruel to lock away a child’s things. The common phrase, one I used to utter myself is, “If they can’t see it, then they’ll never remember to play with it!” The best part about having the toys locked away is if they forget about them, then it’s okay to get rid of them. The second-best part is that they can’t just play with them. They have to ask. That lets me know who is getting them out, and who will have to put them back. I can also initiate a time limit for play, and a time for cleaning up, which is something I’ll talk about in a bit.
2. Most kids will not put their toys away
Besides the obvious fact that they just don’t care, this has always been a peculiar riddle to me that I think I’ve finally figured out. I’ve always wondered why kids don’t put the things they cherish more than their own brothers and sisters in a place that’s safe and secure when they are done playing. The answer is simple. They weren’t done! This “aha!” moment finally came to me when, for the 1,689th time, a little child found some older child’s unmonitored toys or cards on the floor and began to play with them. When the older child finds them a bit later, the normal outburst is, “I was still playing with that!” I don’t care if it was 7 hours ago since they touched it, they had the mind to come back to it. Knowing this helps me to remember that it’s not always because they don't care.
3. They end up everywhere, always
If you leave all, or a lot of their toys out in the open, then don’t be surprised when you find yourself spending an hour or more a day making them pick up their toys or helping them pick up their toys. Not just because they don’t want to pick them up when they’re done, or because the little one randomly dumps them for no reason, but it’s because there’s a break in the communication concerning timing. That's the 2nd step, and that's up next!
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Thank you for reading this post and I hope you found it helpful. It is my heart's desire to see you living a life that's not only clutter-free, but filled with family, friends, and fun. If you find that your belongings are beginning to bring you more stress than joy, and you live in the Richmond, Virginia, and Tri-Cities area, then I would be honored to come to you for a free consultation. You can find out more at declutterplanning.com or check us out at Facebook or Pinterest.