I did our first big purge of toys while my girls were sleeping—it was easier that way, they were too little to really understand what we were doing. Since then though, we’ve done a few decluttering sessions together. Because I do think it’s important to involve our kids in the process and let them have a say in what goes. Otherwise we're not teaching our kids anything, they're just having our will imposed on them. Not going to lie, it can be difficult doing this with your kids. There have been a number of times when they want to give something away that I think they should keep. I've had to fight the urge to force them to choose something else a couple of times. This isn't to say that you can't tell them no, we need to keep that. There are times for that too, like when your kid wants to get rid a toy you see them play with almost everyday.
In addition to adapting one of the techniques I talked about in my last post, here are a few kids specific tips for you.
Three Ways to Tackle Clutter from Kids
- Treasure Boxes
If you have a collector like my Stella--give them a designated area to keep their collections. Stella's used to be a drawer in her jewelry box. But recently we "upgraded" her to an old diaper box that I covered in paper and she decorated. Just find something that works for you and your child.
What goes into the treasure box is up to your child. Stella keeps rocks, strings from her blanket, some dead flowers, a pipe cleaner bracelet, and a bunch of other random stuff. To me the majority of the objects in that box are trash. I'd throw them away in a heart beat. But to her they're truly treasures. But here's the secret...the box limits the amount of stuff she can keep. When she goes to put something in it, and there's not room for it, she has a choice to make. She has to reevaluate what's she wants to put in there and what's already in there and then pick something to give up. This works because it puts distance between when the treasure was found and it has to be given it up. Often times it doesn’t mean as much after a couple months or so.
- Display or Photograph Artwork
If your lucky enough—like me— to be on the receiving end of countless drawings and crafts then you're probably asking, "What the heck do I do with all these priceless, wonderful, meaningful works of art?!" Well, you can do what I do and sneak them into the recycling bin after a day or so and then blame your husband when your annoyed 4 year old finds them and asks, "Why is my drawing of X in the recycling?"
Or you can create a display board and rotate the artwork out as new stuff gets made. This is on my to-do list, but I haven't finished Pinning ideas of how to do it yet ;) One other option is to photograph the special pieces. I have a friend who has an Instagram account dedicated to her kids' artwork. I love this idea! Then you could have photo books printed for each kid. I really need to get around to doing this for my girls too.
- Limit Gifts
Some minimalist families have eliminated gifts all together. Others have found creative ways to limited them. This is how our family has approached limiting gifts through out the year. You don't have to do it my way, get creative and find what works for your family!
Birthdays: They get one small, inexpensive gift plus we take them on a Birthday Field Trip.
Valentine's Day: Tim usually brings home from work a balloon for each of the girls and movie to share
Easter: $20 budget for each basket
Christmas: 4 gifts each—a need, a want, something to read, something to wear—and we have a $20 budget for each stocking.
Making the decision to limit the amount toys in your home or gifts might also mean you'll have to have some uncomfortable conversations with your family. It might mean being honest with yourself and confronting your excuses for over buying at holidays, birthdays and everything in between. It's super important that we recognize and comes to term with the fact that it's us not our kids who are buying all of these toys we're tripping over. We're the parent. We have to set the boundaries, our kids certainly aren't going to do that for themselves.
Keeping Clutter Out (Part 1)
Keeping Clutter Our (Part 2)