21 Tips To Help Kids Conquer Clutter
(These tips can help adults, too)
- Cleaning their rooms involves making decisions. The more you
help to simplify the room, the easier the cleaning and the
- Check out books from the library, and buy only the ones your
children really love. Why spend money on books they’ll never read?
- If toys, books, puzzles and games don’t have a happy home that
the child can reach easily to put away, then, you’ve got clutter.
- Help them get drawers and the closet to a state where they can
easily fit their clothes and other belongings into them without
pushing or shoving.
- Make it easy to keep clothes neat. Put shoe boxes without lids
in drawers to help keep clothes from getting jumbled. Maybe socks
in one shoe box, underwear in another. You can use any kind of
container, but if you are a true Clutter Glutton, you still have
every shoe box that has ever entered your home, so you may as well
- Put a large container (box or basket) on the closet floor for
shoes, flip flops and slippers. Another one for sports equipment,
art supplies, Barbie dolls or whatever.
- Provide containers for different toys. When they don’t know
where to put things, it’s hard to keep clutter under control. Make
it easy to put toys, clothes and other items away.
- Let children help label containers (they will be more open to
using them) They can be as creative as they want with the labels
-- either with writing or drawing pictures. Or take photos of the
child showing what goes in each container. Encourage them to “ham
it up”, to hold the toy up to his face and exaggerate pointing to
where it goes like we see in commercials. Have fun with it, and
your child will be more open to making the system work.
- Put clothes hampers (or baskets or boxes) in each child’s
room. Any dirty clothes not in the hamper don’t get washed.
- When your child receives new toys, help them select old ones
to clean up and donate to a local charity. Children love the
feeling of helping others.
- Some children have an extra twin bed in their room “for
sleepovers.” But most friends know to bring a sleeping bag and
pillow when they sleep over. Space is too valuable to waste on a
spare bed that just collects clutter on it. Unless the extra bed
is used frequently, sell it or give it away to someone who will
use it, and free up some space in your child’s room. Two options
that do not use up floor space are:
- a trundle bed where the mattress stores under the bed.
- a bunk bed, but the extra bed could still become a magnet for clutter.
- Clear off furniture tops in the room so visual space is open,
clear and clean.
- Set up a box or plastic bag in a permanent spot, such as a
closet or the garage. Encourage your children to contribute items
to the donation container that you’ve set up for the family. When
the bags are full, donate them to your favorite charity.
- Teach children to keep asking themselves, “Why keep broken
toys, tired stuffed animals, books with torn pages or covers,
games with broken or missing pieces?” Especially if they are no
longer interested in these things.
- To simplify the children’s laundry, try assigning a separate
“signature” color to each child for towels, sheets and blankets.
- Roommates handle their shared space better if a parent or
someone helps to establish clear boundaries. This is Meghan’s
drawer and this is Cassidy’s drawer; or this is Connor’s shelf,
this is Noah’s shelf. And so on. Sometimes labels are needed to
help keep things straight.
- When helping them de-clutter, give children the opportunity to
decide what stays and what goes. If they can get rid on only a few
things at first, let it be. Let them see how you’re getting rid of
- If the family is working together to de-clutter one area, have
a big celebration when it’s clear or a mini-celebration after one
solid hour of work.
- Too many toys, puzzles and books? Pack some away to be brought
- when a babysitter comes
- for a long car ride
- on a rainy day
- when visiting children have left your child feeling used and abused
- on a sick day
- when your child just needs a "spirit lifter"
- Don’t give space to games no one likes or games with broken or
Help your children (teens need help too) to de-clutter but let
them make choices. Then teach them to cultivate simple habits to
help them maintain a clutter free environment.
- Help your children (teens need help too) to de-clutter but let
them make choices.
Then teach them to cultivate simple habits to help them maintain a
Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook,
Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop
Putting Things Off and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a
“Recovering Procrastinator” and professional speaker. She can be
reached at 847-699-9950 and her email is
To subscribe to her free monthly “Anticrastination Tip Sheet” with
quick short tips & ideas to help break the procrastination habit, go
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