The Decluttered Planet 2

Decluttering With Kids | How To Love The Mess They Make

Declutter Planning - How To Love The Mess They Make


Having young kids can mean that you only get time to yourself when they finally go to sleep, especially if you homeschool. It’s during these times that hours turn into minutes (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN!?!?) and I refuse to go to sleep until I’ve enjoyed my time alone or with my wife. My bed at night only reveals the fact that I will have to wake up and be responsible again, so there is no real rush to climb under the covers.

Declutter Planning - Dog In Bed

It’s the mornings that my blanket and pillow become a trap. You want to go to sleep early so you can get up early to spend that time doing something you love, but they hear you, no matter how quiet you are, and they join you. Your time alone is finished faster than it began. That’s why I love staying up late and hate waking up early.

There’s nothing I love more in the summer than being in bed with the A/C on full blast and nowhere to be. I hide under the covers with my wife and would stay there all day if it wasn’t for 10 banging feet, 10 slamming hands, and 5 shouting mouths that cause me to have to crawl out of bed, put on an episode of Wild Kratts (one of our family favorites), and hide under the covers for 22 more glorious minutes. Notice I only brought up 5 of my 7 children. The other two, our oldest girls, have no problem staying in their beds. 

Still, the episode ends and the call to be good parents shuffle us out of bed and into the morning routine of breakfast, homeschool (we take breaks throughout the year and have to do school through the summer), and work. But some days the littles (our youngest 5), and even 1 or both of our oldest girls, will wake up and you would have never noticed for how quiet they are. It’s during these times, these early morning hours of inspiration, that they are in the homeschool room quietly making whatever comes to mind with whatever they can find. These days, only nature’s call drives me from my cave of comfort to find them surrounded in paper, cloth, glue, paint, markers, and whatever else they decided to work with in order to bring their imaginations to life and make my homeschool room a mess. I’m happy to say that it’s a mess I love to see now, even if I didn’t in the beginning.


When kids get a mind to make, then it's safe to say one of the first things we notice as parents is the mess. Stuff is everywhere, but it is something that I have grown to love. It’s the stuff that I happily make room for when planning out storage options, and it’s in the cleaning up that I remember to say thanks for being alive and having healthy kids to clean up with. All of these times are where true memories are created. I believe that wonderful redhead from Avonlea said it best:

“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”

These are the times, glitter or not, that I have made up my mind to enjoy with my children. This took some time for me because I truly hate any kind of a mess, but learning to see it from a new perspective is something I’m glad I did. I even went from wanting to do everything on the computer (Photoshop and Krita has zero cleanup time) to mentioning to my wife how I would love to chuck all of their toys and games and give them cardboard, markers, glue, paint, paper, and tape to see what they can make for themselves. Help them to think outside of the box by cutting up the box to use in their next project. The hardest part is the cleanup, but even that has a purpose if you let it.

Declutter Planning - Hiding Boy

It’s not a secret that I loathe having to constantly hunt down those responsible for making the mess, but it’s actually become a time that I can use to talk to them about what they are working on instead of complaining that they never pick up their toys. While I’m not happy that I complain in the first place, it’s even easier to overlook their amazing imaginations in their creative expressions of play when they are playing with something that they got from a store. I’m not saying anything bad about store-bought toys here. Please don’t think that’s the case. More so, the fact that I need to learn to honor and express my interest in their times of play during their times of cleanup, no matter what it is they are playing with.

Make sense?

Declutter Planning - Hospital Room

In all of this, and as much as I love the process of decluttering and organizing, I have to admit that I do not want my house to be mistaken for a hospital. Hospitals, like hotels, lack personality, something that you need to remove if you are trying to sell your house, but something that is comforting and inviting when you come home from a long days work and want to be surrounded by the people and items you enjoy. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, not a thousand items that cause stress, but enough to let you know you're home. This is important when you begin to let your children create and is something you’ll do well to teach in the beginning if you can.


One of the main reasons that I can enjoy the times of creation, crafting, designing, and making is that we’ve learned that we can’t keep it all. My wife and I are okay with letting almost all of their masterpieces find the recycling or trash bin within the day or 2. This is only after we’ve taken a picture, of course. The kids still have a hard time throwing away their crafts, but we do our best to compromise when we can. For instance, instead of just having them draw on individual sheets of paper, we give them all notepads to work with. Knowing that we won’t make them recycle a notepad until there are more than we feel necessary keeps their spirits up, their designs and drawing in one place, and their creativity flowing.

Another instance of compromise is when they get the drive to create a board game. This usually takes more than a single go at it and having an extra storage container or 2 about the size of a shoebox or bigger is perfect for housing their ideas and all of the intricate pieces that go along with it. My favorite one being my 8-year-old’s game she titled, Distraction.

Declutter Planning - Going For A Walk

So, to wrap up, it’s good to remember that how we deal with issues can rely on how we perceive them. If we end up walking away from a situation feeling like a horrible parent, such as the guilt you feel from your recent neck vein protruding declaration of, “CLEAN UP THIS ROOM OR NO ONE DOES ANYTHING EVER AGAIN FOREVER!!!” then maybe it’s not so much how we react that needs to be adjusted. First, go for a walk and scream at the trees like this guy, and second, maybe it’s our perspective on the issue itself that needs adjusting. Here are a few points on how to try and look at the big picture of every mess your kids make from a different point of view.

  1. It’s probably not a mess to them. I figured out long ago that my standards are not their standards, and as individuals, they may never fully value mine. This sounds weird, but it really helps to curb your anger and not take personal offense at what they do.
  2. How can you work with them to see that they understand your heart for a clean house and how they can help your heart be happy? This is a really good stance to take when they are around 4 or 5 and starting to learn how to process and express their feelings. Your gentle way of expressing your desires of a clean house, and what that means, can guide them in how to speak to you about their own. This is one that I wished I figured out long ago.
  3. As I mentioned before, join them in the clean up process if you can, and let them know you value their time of play by asking them about it. This is hard for me personally because I always have a situation going on somewhere or another, but every now and then it becomes a wonderful time of bonding with 1 or 2 of my children.
  4. Finally, and while I honor Mary Poppins for trying to give Jane and Michael a new perspective on cleaning up, and for being one of my first childhood crushes (is that weird, cause it’s always felt weird to me), snapping your fingers will never get the job done. Not only that, unless you enjoy it, cleaning up sucks to most every and all kid, teenager, and many adults. Cleaning up will always be a time to stop playing, and no kid wants that. If you’re trying to make it something fun for them, then I would suggest you stop trying. I only say that because I’ve been there and done that, and the truth was always there before me. It’s okay for them to learn that there will be things in life that they may hate, but they still have to do, and they will regret you for not being honest about it in the beginning.

That’s it from me. Got anymore ideas for changing your perspective on the mess kids make? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. My Mother-in-Law always says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I’ve come to not only agree with that expression, but understand it in light of my oldest kids growing up and seeking out another source of wisdom besides their parents. Sharing ideas with them that come from someone else always seems to capture their attention a little more than my own. I think that is true for a lot of parents and it’s why I’m so grateful for the opportunity to not only share my methods on here, but find other blogs to grow and learn from as well.

Till next time, and as always, sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, is greatly appreciated. I hope you were able to take something away, and I know that there are more that would enjoy this article, as well. 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 or check us out at Facebook or Pinterest.

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