How to Conquer Kid Clutter before the Holidays

Merely Me Health Guide
  • To say that my Max is "messy" is probably the understatement of the year.  I have been to many of my friend's houses some of whom have several children under the age of five.  But these tots have nothing on my Max as far as making a mess of their surroundings.


    Right now he is into taking toys apart.  He has many toy trains and he is fascinated with unscrewing all the screws.  I blame my husband for showing him how to use a screwdriver.  Needless to say, I am finding these parts of trains and screws all over the house.  He also loves to paint and do crafts so the items needed for these projects can also add to the great household clutter.  Toys, books, games, paper, art supplies, DVD's...the list goes on.  What do you do with all this stuff when you have a kid who likes to pull everything out at once?  And too, Max doesn't like to throw things away.  He has collections of things such as his train parts he cannot bear to part with.

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    If you have a child like mine who likes to hoard items and inevitably creates a mess wherever he goes, then you might be dreading the holidays as this is the time when more stuff will come into the house.  This is a good time to think of strategies for helping your child to get more organized and clear out the clutter (without freaking out your child).

    Here are just some of the ideas we have come up with over the years to help organize and manage our household while living with a messy Max. 

    • The laws of messiness dictate that your child will make a mess from whatever items he or she has available. So to have less mess, have less stuff available at one time. Keep your child's room simple. Leave open spaces for them to play and spread out.

    • Don't start buying more storage devices. I am personally addicted to these stores which sell all the cool organizational stuff. Our Deobrah Gray was telling me about some nifty lego container which automatically sorts the legos by size. Of course I was immediately attracted to this contraption as our legos seem to reproduce overnight. But let's face it, it is yet another *thing* you will be bringing into the house. I have a closet full of these bins, sorters, and wonderful gadgets for getting organized. You would like to think they help and sometimes they do. But usually what happens is that you buy more stuff to fill up the organizer! Now don't tell me if you went out and bought another bookcase today that you wouldn't be filling it up with more books. You don't need more organizational contraptions. What you need is to get rid of stuff you don't use or need.

    • There is a wonderful site called eBay if you are the last remaining hermit who has not heard of this site or the wheel. Get three boxes and one garbage bag. Label the three boxes with "Keep," "Store away," and "Sell/Give Away." The garbage bag is for the items that your child, and nobody else for that matter, can use. Sort through your child's things with your child present. There will be negotiations to be made but I think it is far more respectful to do this with your child, than years later hear about some therapy session where your adult child says, "My mother threw out my baseball cards and didn't tell me!" In the box of items to give away or sell determine which things you might get a good price on eBay. Most kids are excited about the prospect of making cash from their unused junk. You can also have a garage sale or give the items to a charity of your child's choice.

    • Make it a ritual to do a big de-cluttering at least once a year preferably before the holidays. Otherwise you will soon run out of room for anything new. Make it an on-going habit to recycle your old stuff as in sell it or give it away.

    • Create a clean up system which works for you and your child. We have a system using big baskets here. I put an empty basket downstairs for Max's stuff. When the basket gets full then we bring it upstairs and put the items away and replace the empty basket.

    • Have a designated place to put items you do not need at the moment. We purchased a steel cabinet like you might see in a classroom. In this cabinet we put things like extra art supplies, projects, and videos. There is a lock on the cabinet so Max must ask permission before we pull things out of it.

    • Create a special shelf to display all your child's crafts. We have one above the sliding glass door leading to our deck. We also have a screen divider where we hang up his art work. When things get too full we take a picture of the artwork and pieces we cannot keep.

    These are just some ideas to get you started.  I know it is a lot of work but once you have an on-going system of de-cluttering then it gets easier as time goes on.  The holidays are stressful enough without wondering where everything is going to go.   The more stuff you have the more cleaning and effort you must use to keep that stuff.  Enjoy the empty spaces in your home free of clutter. 

  • Now how about you?  Do you have some tips to share about organizing your home or helping your child to de-clutter their space?  Let us know.  We are always eager to hear from you!

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Published On: November 09, 2009