Image Credit: Babar Ali
Kids mean a lot of clutter!
It just is one of those things that you have to put up with when you become a parent. Firstly there is all the equipment that you need, the stuff it is handy or just plain fun to have. Then there are the rapidly outgrown clothes and all those toys!
So, how can you get your house back and get your kids into the idea of decluttering from a young age? It is much tougher to have to learn to declutter an adult, I know from experience.
The first thing you need to do is to start by setting them a good example.
Start by decluttering your own items; if the kids ask what you are doing focus on the positives. ‘I’m clearing out this cupboard to make space for new things’. For half-hearted declutterers this will also help you to focus on the positives too!
If you do not feel that decluttering is your strong point, it is a good idea to learn how to declutter your own stuff. Decluttering is skill that can be learnt and improved, I promise.
Marie Kondo’s books and Netflix series has made clearing out your house mainstream, and her gentle Japanese-style decluttering techniques have struck a chord with many people. I found The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying very useful myself, because it gives you a plan for decluttering as well as helping you to think differently about the objects that you choose to keep or discard.
Alternatively The Minimalists have gamified decluttering by creating the 30-Day Minimalism Game. On the first day of the month, declutter one item. On the second, declutter two. Continue each day until you declutter 30 items on the last day. (Adjust as suits you in February!) You will have got rid of over 465 items if you make it to the end of the month.
Ultimately you need to find a way that works for you.
Once you have dealt with your own clutter, then you are ready to move onto the unused baby equipment.
If it is in good condition you can advertise items for sale on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or selling group. If you are not bothered about getting money for it, you can also put it on a local group such as Freecycle.
If this has been sitting in a loft, garage or basement for any length of time give it a good clean.
Also consider donating it to your local charity shop or a jumble sale. You could also take your good condition items to sell at a Car Boot Sale or have your own Yard Sale. Remember if you live in a quiet street you have to advertise a Yard Sale really well for it to be successful.
However if any of the equipment is in poor condition throw it out – in the bin, at the local household waste recycling centre or if necessary hire a skip!
Baby Clothes tend to get us mums a bit more sentimental!
If you catch yourself saying ‘but baby looked so sweet in that…’ remember that it doesn’t fit any more and you probably have a photo of your baby looking sweet in it. Save one or two of the most sentimental items and bundle up the rest. When you have children you always know someone who is expecting, maybe a mum in your child’s class at school.
Good condition clothes can also be sold on eBay, and many NCT groups hold regular baby sales, where you can sell your items. You can find listings for sales on the NCT website.
A popular way to sell kids clothes is using apps such as Vinted, Schpock and Depop. If you have good quality brands or designer items consider using Poshmark, and if you have any top designer name clothes, Vestiaire Collective.
Otherwise charity shops can always sell baby clothes that are in good condition.
However if they are very badly worn or stained, they cannot be resold. Ask your local charity shop if they accept items for “rag”, which means they can accept unsalable garments for recycling.
You will now have much more space, and hopefully a much tidier house.
Image Credit: Steve Buissinne
Next we tackle the problem of the kids toys and games, how to persuade children to part with their outgrown toys and games, and a few strategies that can help.
So far we have only looked at how to clear out the kid clutter that parents can take responsibility for, such as baby equipment and clothes. Now we move onto a trickier area, kid’s toys and games.
You would have to be quite hard-hearted to go into your child’s toy box and simply throw out all the toys you felt they had outgrown. Apart from upsetting your child you would miss out on a great opportunity to teach them how to declutter for themselves.
This is a gift that will last them a lifetime, so don’t pass up this opportunity.
The best time to declutter is close to Christmas or a birthday. You can explain to them that they need to make space for all the new toys that they will be getting as presents!
When you decide it is time to declutter, work with your child, and be prepared to respect their opinions – what looks like junk to you may be their favourite toy (well, this week anyway!).
You will need three piles to sort your child’s belongings into, Keep, Bin and Give Away.
Anything which is completely unusable or dangerous should go straight into the Bin. You may need to be the Big Bad Wolf at this stage, especially if any items are dangerous.
Then you have to persuade them to part with toys, games and books that are in good condition but they simply don’t use.
Don’t expect them to get rid of much the first time – it may take several goes to make a difference, and decluttering is a skill that can be learnt and improved with practice – that applies to adults as well as children. As long as they choose a few items you will have made some progress.
Your child could be much more willing to part with items if they feel that they will give pleasure to someone else. If you have a friend with a baby, your child will be delighted that the baby will enjoy playing with them.
Children also love to feel that they are helping people in need, so if you give the items to a charity shop, explain who will be helped by their donation. If you are lucky enough to have a number of charity shops nearby, let the child choose where to donate.
Maybe they can donate to an animal charity or one that helps children, whatever interests them.
For the toys which the child wants to keep, you should make sure to provide suitable storage if you want your kids room to stay tidy.
Finally, here is a little trick that can work if your children have a wide enough age gap.
The younger child needs to be around one year or below, and the older one at least three years older. Suggest to the older child that they choose some of their outgrown toys that are in good condition to wrap up as Christmas or birthday gifts for their younger sibling. The child get to truly give a gift rather than just choosing something that you pay for. The younger child will not really understand gifts at that age so will not notice. The older child still has access to their toys and you do not have to spend so much on presents, so everyone will be happy.
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!