Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Decluttering Chaotic Kids’ Spaces: 8 Weeks at Home Series

Welcome to week 5 of the 8 Weeks at Home Series! We’re spending eight weeks decluttering, simplifying and cleaning up room by room in preparation for summer. So far, we’ve decluttered and cleaned the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen and the master bedroom. This week, we’re working on probably the most chaotic spaces of all — kids’ rooms and playrooms. In our house at least, two boys = utter chaos when it comes to their rooms and shared playroom. It’s a never-ending battle trying to keep up with the toys, books, clothes and trinkets.

In this series, I’ll do two posts per week for each room. In the first post, we’ll talk about decluttering and simplifying. In the second post, we’ll clean it all up and get it looking nice and shiny. While you’re working in each space, keep some paper and a pen handy and make note of any repairs that need to be made, any supplies that need to be restocked, or any decorating changes you’d like to make. As you decide to get rid of stuff, remove it from the space right away and get it out of the house ASAP so that it doesn’t worm its way back into the space. Take out bags of trash and recycling daily so they don’t pile up in your workspace.

Finding the Floor in the Kids’ Rooms

We have two boys who do not share rooms, so I’m dealing with two bedrooms and a shared playroom. Tweak these tips for your family’s situation as needed.

  1. It’s up to you whether you want to declutter with your kids or wait until they’re away from the house to tackle the toys, books and trinkets. I’ve done it both ways, and honestly, it’s just easier to do it without them most of the time. They rarely notice anything missing — they just think it’s clean. When I declutter with them, the older one (8) gets defensive about anything I try to get rid of, including trash, and the younger one (6) gives me big sad puppy-dog eyes whenever I set anything aside. Still, it’s important to teach them these things when they’re young, so I do make a habit to work with them to clean their rooms regularly. Big purges like this though, are just for me.
  2. Toss any toys that are broken, games missing pieces, and any toys or books that your kids have outgrown. This can be very tough, especially if you’re sentimental about growing kiddos! I have a tough time getting rid of toys that were expensive even if they don’t play with them, toys I would love for them to play with but they don’t, favorite toys that they’ve outgrown, and toys that are still “good.” You’ve got to be brutal though and cut out the excess so your kids can truly enjoy what they have and so you don’t feel like you’re living in a toy store.
  3. For any toys or books you’re undecided on, box them up and get them away from kiddie view, then wait and see if they miss them. You can also save a few to rotate in as your kids get bored or set a few aside for a rainy day.
  4. Organize the keepers according to type — dress-up clothes together, cars together, Legos together, etc. Like with like. Make labels with photos or pictures for non-readers.
  5. Keep a few favorite books in a basket that can be moved by the bedside or a favorite rocking chair, and keep the rest in a bookshelf. I’ve taught my boys to put books back on the bookshelf “like a library” so the books are upright and facing the same direction.
  6. Be ruthless with artwork, scribbles, school papers and other papers. Keep only your favorites and recycle the rest! If you have trouble letting go of artwork, take a photo of your child holding it, then toss it. I would drown in paper if I kept every picture of the Titanic my 8-year-old draws.
  7. Make it a habit to go through toys and books once a season, or at least before gift-giving holidays such as Christmas and birthdays. If you notice your kids aren’t playing with certain games or toys, go ahead and remove them from the space as needed.
  8. Go through clothes each time the season changes, and keep a box or bin in the closet where you can toss outgrown clothes as you notice that they’re too small.
  9. Keep clothes that are the next size up separate from the current wardrobe.
  10. Use containers liberally — baskets and boxes for toys with small parts, socks, books, anything that can be contained should. Opt for clear boxes with lids as much as possible.
  11. Consider selling outgrown or unused toys, books and clothing. Options include Facebook sale groups, local kids’ consignment/used stores and seasonal consignment sales. I sell at a mix of Facebook sale groups and seasonal consignment sales, and I use the money I make to buy the next season’s clothes and shoes.
  12. Keep one box per kid for sentimental items. Each of mine has a clear tote that I can tuck favorite baby clothes, outgrown lovies and special toys.

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