A Parent’s Guide to Cutting Clutter

March 2019

Thanks to the popularity of the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” going clutter-free is all the rage. From social media influencers to celebrities to your next-door neighbor, it seems like everyone is combing through their closets and dresser drawers in order to take serious inventory of their belongings. And with good reason! There’s something incredibly freeing about editing our everyday items and getting a “fresh start” in our homes. But with kids around, the actual purging process can quickly turn into absolute chaos. Not to worry! We’re here to help with these tips on curbing clutter with kids afoot.

Make Your Own Rules

While Marie Kondo’s KonMari method relies on only keeping items that “spark joy,” many families with young kids find that they need to take a different, more targeted approach. “Do these snow pants still fit? Should I hang on to them for my younger child to grow into?” In other words, keep whatever de-cluttering principles work for your family’s needs and discard the rest—no pun intended!

Consider Each Personality

Keep in mind that each family member may have a different view when it comes to clutter. While one person may abhor non-essential items, another might have an “I may need this one day” attitude. A great alternative approach is to give clutter-lovers their own designated area for “backup belongings” that they don’t use every day—and ask them to limit the items to whatever can fit into provided storage bins.

Go Area By Area (Not Room by Room)

Weekend time is precious…and limited! So rather than overwhelm yourself by de-cluttering an entire room on a given Saturday, give yourself one designated area to clear at a time. For example: Instead of tackling the kitchen, tackle the pantry. Or even the spice rack. Slice and dice each job into manageable chunks to make the project more realistic to your family’s schedule.

Let Kids Help—and Learn to Give Back

De-cluttering and donating with your kids is a great teachable moment that emphasizes giving back as a family and minimizing the number of goods that end up in landfills. Make little ones feel like they’re part of the process by assigning them jobs—such as trying on clothes to see if they still fit, matching socks and gloves into pairs, or boxing up books to be donated. Once your donations are ready, drop them off at a charity together so kids can see the full “giving back” experience firsthand.

Curb Kid-Related Keepsakes

Having a kid typically means claiming ownership to endless kid-related memorabilia: from baby booties to macaroni art. Because it can be emotionally taxing to go through things that stir up memories and tug at our heartstrings, it’s best to keep this task for last. Look for an app that lets you snap and store kids’ artwork digitally in order to save precious shelf space, and try your best to be discerning about which items will really mean something 10 or 20 years down the road. It can help to have a spouse or a friend go through the process with you in order to keep you on track!

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