Even if you didn’t have a clutter problem prior to having children, there’s a good chance clutter has somehow found it’s way into your home post-kids. It seems that even the most clutter-free couples often have a problem with toys taking over their house once they have kids.
Being clutter-free and organized pre-kids is one thing. Being clutter-free and organized post-kids is a completely different skill set.
It takes determination. It takes a plan. But it can be done!
Being Clutter-Free with Kids
Contain toys to one or two areas of the house.
A child’s bedroom is the perfect place to keep the bulk of his or her toys. Depending on the child’s age, they may have a playroom or even keep a few toys in the family room. However, if you don’t want toys to take over the house, children should be aware that the master bedroom is for you. The kitchen and dining room are for eating. The office is for working.
Now I’m certainly not suggesting you be a drill sergeant. If the kids want to bring a toy or two into another area of the house, that’s should be fine…as long as they’re playing with it…and as long as they put the toy back in it’s place when finished!
If kids understand that the entire house isn’t available for full time storage of their toys, it’ll prevent toys from taking over your house.
Contain toy collections.
Every kid gets focused on a particular cartoon character at some point. The child becomes enchanted with Mickey Mouse and all of a sudden every beach towel, sleeping bag, bicycle helmet is full out Mickey. I’m not sure if it’s innate or if we as parents push on them as parents. Perhaps a mixture of both.
For my oldest son, the character he’s obsessed with right now is Thomas the Train. He can sit and play for hours with Thomas and his friends. On the one hand, it’s great because it keeps his interest and I can get a few thing done around the house. On the other hand, our entire life savings could be spent collecting all of Thomas’ friends!
I’ve found that if you can find a way to contain toy collections, it helps eliminate some of the need for more, more, more. For example, I found 2 Thomas cases at a consignment sale recently that are perfect for holding my son’s trains. All of his trains fit nicely in the two cases leaving just a few empty spots. When my son wants a new train, we tell him there’s only room for 3 more trains in his cases. If he wants to take up one of the last 3 spots with this train of the moment, he can. It’s his choice. When there’s only one slot left, he know’s it will be his last train.
Put one toy away before pulling out another.
One way to stay clutter-free with children is to teach them to be the same way! Basically, how to clean up after themselves.
Now this idea isn’t meant to be seen as a hard an fast rule: When you’re finished with that block, you have to put it away before playing with the toy car. That could be a little extreem in my opinion.
For toys with multiple pieces, however, this concept can be a sanity saver. For example, if the kiddos have Lincoln Logs scattered all over the floor, they should learn to put them up before dumping 20 match box cars in the middle of the room.
Teaching children to clean up their toys when they’re finished playing can help eliminate some of the chaos that scattered toys bring.
Eliminate toys…and eliminate often.
When you’re early in your childbearing years, there can be a tendency to keep everything…you know, just in case. I’m as frugal as can be and a saver by nature so I completely understand this concept. However, I’ve learned a couple of things about clutter control during my few short years of being a mother.
The first is that you really do have to eliminate often because, somehow, you always end up with more than you need. After your first baby, you realize that you could never use all of the 400 newborn outfits you received at your baby shower; even if you had 6 more kids of the same gender and born in the same season. You realize you prefer one baby carrier over the other. You realize could get by with 2 newborn rattles instead of 5. Whatever the example, you learn a little bit about your mothering preferences after your first child. That means anything you have multiples of or don’t like, you can sell or give away. It will do a small part to keep your home clutter-free.
The second is that good deals always come around. If you like to shop at consignment sales and second hand stores for kid toys and clothes, you can trade often. Even if you plan to have more children, you can cut clutter in your home now by reselling kid items instead of storing them for the future. You can also use that money to buy a new batch of clothes and toys with little to no money out of pocket.
Having young kids doesn’t mean our homes have to be overrun with their stuff. It does take a little work, but for every ounce of effort you put into eliminating clutter, you’ll gain ten-fold in sanity!
I’d love to hear your tips! How do you eliminate kid clutter?