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The best time to declutter with kids is about a month or so prior to birthdays and holidays. Remind them that they will need to make room for new things coming in. Most importantly, they will be giving their things to other children in need! Include them in the donation process by visiting your local goodwill or shelter together. Praise them for their donations, and celebrate their generosity!
Another great way to inspire your family to declutter is to simply lead by example. Work on a couple of spaces of your own first. Follow up with some open discussions about your feelings around the process:
- “I found it really difficult to give up those old books and board games, but the library was to thrilled to have them. I realized that we really don’t need them anymore, and I love having the space for photos on that shelf instead!”
- “This box is full of shoes and clothes that I haven’t worn in a really long time! I cleared my closet so I have room to see all of the beautiful things I wear regularly. It feels so good to give these to people in need!”
- “Isn’t it so much easier to get to the dishes and cups now that I cleared out the ones we don’t use very often?”
Do your best not to pressure them to the point of anxiety; you want it to be a cleansing and stress-free process. If they don’t seem ready, simply celebrate their small victories, and re-visit the idea at a different time.
Three things I learned as a nanny:
- Kids thrive in a structured atmosphere;
- Kids respond well to praise; and
- Kids respond well to rewards!
Take time to develop a routine around cleaning up. Just as you would with a bedtime routine or morning routine, add time for a clean-up routine. Incorporate cleaning up into an existing routine, if that makes sense for you!
Make sure that it is easy for them to clean up. Clearly label things, and give them easy to manage and accessible storage. Work with them the first few times to teach and guide them. Once they have the general idea, let them do it on their own, but follow up as quickly as you can! Correct any issues with clear explanations, making sure your littles understand your expectations.
You can also give small rewards to encourage your kiddos. Use a sticker system so they can visually monitor their progress with you.
- “After 3 days in a row of cleaning up we’ll go get frozen yogurt!”
- “After 7 days in a row we’ll have a movie night (kids pick the flick).”
Help guide them while they learn this new process. Patience is key, as it is with most aspects of raising kids. Praise them throughout, and thank them for being a contributing member of your family!
I have two organizing tools that I use pretty regularly:
- Ikea Variera shelf inserts. These are so easy to assemble, not to mention inexpensive. I have used them in countless homes across Southern California. They are literally all over my own home; in my laundry closet, in my kitchen, and in both of my bathrooms. They are great for making use of that extra vertical space in cabinets and closets!
- My beloved P-touch label maker. This was a gift from my sister-in-law as I was starting my business 4 years ago. I take it with me to every client’s home, and I would say I use it in about 75% of the homes I visit. I label anything and everything, if the client is willing! In kitchen cabinets, kids craft supplies, home files… It is so helpful to have things labeled, especially as you are learning a new system!