Life-changing ideas for clutter control from a mother of five

Mother of five June Doran shares five ideas for controlling kid clutter that will change your life!

It starts even before your first baby is born – the clutter, I mean. The baby shower, where all your well-meaning and generous friends and family, quite literally shower you with gifts.

Most of the gifts are useful: clothes, a stroller, the crib. Then there are the things that you really don’t need, like a wipe warmer.

Before you know it, you’ve survived those early months of extreme sleep deprivation, and you wake up to a home you don’t recognise. Kid clutter oozes from every nook and cranny.

And look out! Christmas is coming, and you’d better believe at baby’s first Christmas, the grandparents are going to go ALL OUT.

Then comes birthday parties.

And more Christmases.

And school. Who knew there could be so much paper?!

So, what’s a parent to do? How do you rein in the kid clutter?

Five practical tips for controlling kid clutter

1) Give the gift-givers what they want - guidance

I wish I could take credit for this genius tip, but I heard it from decluttering maestro Allie Casazza.

If you have people in your life who express love through gift-giving, you need to realise that they want direction from you. Gift-givers love giving the perfect gift, one that will actually be used and appreciated.

Make an Amazon wish list with the books, toys, and clothes your child will actually use.

Tell them about the museum membership you’ve been eying but is out of your price range.

Emphasise that time spent with your kids is the most valuable gift they could give.

2) Receive gifts graciously but don't feel obliged to keep them forever

When I first started decluttering, I put up limits about what stuff came in and out of it, including gifts. Unfortunately, those boundaries were extreme to the point of rudeness.

I finally realised that controlling kid clutter didn’t mean I needed to be rude. You see, you can receive gifts graciously and even let your kids enjoy them for a little while. But you are under no obligation to keep them forever.

Think about when you give a gift: do you want the recipient to keep it for the rest of their life, even if they don’t love it or they no longer need it? Of course not!

Probably don’t post a photo in February of the Christmas gifts your kids are now done with on your personal Facebook page. Be discreet.

Honour the gift-giver, but also honour your home: it should only hold what you love, need and use regularly.

3) It's your home, your family, and your life

Every family seems to have that one person who appears to want you to keep their gifts forever, but at the end of the day, remember that it’s your home and your life, not theirs.

Studies have proven that clutter causes stress.

Being a parent has enough stresses without adding kid clutter to it. If you have decided to live with less stuff, stand by that decision.

Friends, grandparents, aunts and teachers don’t actually have to live in your house with you, therefore they don’t get to decide what comes in and out of your home. You do.

4) Stop automatically accepting free stuff

It’s one thing to graciously receive gifts from family. They love you, and have an ongoing relationship with you and your kids.

But all the other people who want to give your kids free stuff? You don’t need to take it all.

I used to accept anything and everything that was offered to me, especially if it was free. When I started living a minimalist lifestyle, however, I realised that some of the things I accepted automatically we didn’t actually need or use.

So, if a friend offers you hand-me-downs, first determine whether you really need them and will actually use them. If the answer is no, thank them profusely, but politely decline.

When local organisations offer you free cups, t-shirts, or bags with their logo on them, you can absolutely say, “No, thank you.”

If the Sunday School teacher sends home your two-year-old’s scribbles and a craft to do later, you don’t have to take it. Or, you can recycle it immediately after you get home.

Intentionally evaluate everything that comes into your home, especially the free stuff.

5) Train your kids early on how to regularly evaluate their belongings

We have regular decluttering sessions in our house. Every item in our home has been evaluated and determined to still have a purpose here. Here’s the thing about kids, though. You need to frame the questions correctly. When you’re going through their toys and clothes, don’t ask, “Do you want to keep this?” because the answer will almost always be, “Yes!”

Instead, ask questions like:

  • Do you use this anymore?
  • Are you ready to give it to someone else who will use it?
  • What does it remind you of?
  • How does keeping it help you?
  • Why do you want to keep it?

Those questions help your child adopt an intentional mindset towards their own belongings.And if you can enlist your kids to fight kid clutter alongside you at an early age? You’re winning!

The bottom line on fighting kid clutter

Having kids means you will automatically have more stuff than you would if you didn’t have kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be intentional about what comes into your home.

If you can learn from the time your kids are small to set boundaries, declutter regularly, and be clear with your family about your desire to live clutter-free with kids, you will set yourself up for success.

Because parenting is hard enough without drowning in kid clutter.

June loves deep discussions about minimalism, homeschooling, and intentional living. When she's not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging, her favorite thing is enjoying alone time at home in perfect silence, while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts. Of course, with five kids aged nine and under, that doesn’t happen very often!

Check her out here



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