When it comes to including children in de-cluttering, there are lots of different schools of thought.
Which one is right? Well, none of them (or all of them!) You have to do what works best for you.
However, I do have some recommendations when it comes to decluttering your children’s items. I will break these down in future blog posts, but today I am going to talk about starting with a blank slate.
What do I mean by starting with a blank slate?
When working on a children’s space, I think there should be an entire initial clean-out before involving the children in the process.
This is not a completely perfect solution. Not by any means. However, when it gets down to the minutiae of organizing, it is absolutely completely overwhelming, even for adults.
There are all the tiny pieces. All the garbage. Stuffed animals. Party favors from years past. Things that adults have a hard time parting with.
Involving children in this process would make everything that much harder.
Many children are not able to let go easily – even to things that they normally wouldn’t care about.
Some adults are horrified by this process. “What is my child asks me for something that I got rid of?!”
There are a couple of options for this.
The first is to not throw anything away – yet. Put things in solid colored boxes (or black garbage bags) so that the children can’t see inside. After a couple of months, if they don’t ask for anything from the boxes, quietly dispose of what’s in them.
The other option is to get rid of things, and then when the children ask where the stuff went, be honest with them. “Your space was really messy. I did some decluttering. I didn’t want to get rid of anything important, so I tried to be really careful. The thing that I got rid of I didn’t think you were using much, so I gave it away.”
Most parents assume that their children will freak out and throw a temper tantrum. And this is true – they just might. However, some kids are able to get past it without much trouble.
“Oh. Okay.” They say. Then that is it.
Either reaction should be followed by something like this:
“Your space was so messy that it felt overwhelming even for ME to clean! Now that it is more manageable, we’ll work together on decluttering in the future.”
The thing is, no matter what you do, there’s always a chance that you’re going to get an unfavorable reaction. While you do have to respect your child’s needs, you also have to respect your need for a clean and uncluttered house. Most children are able to handle this.
That, my friends, is starting with a blank slate. After the initial declutter session, I strongly encourage you to start regularly decluttering with your children. The trick is to make sure that you do just a little at a time so that they can get used to the process – and so the space doesn’t end up unmanageable and overwhelming in the future.