Sure, you can clean and organize your kid’s room for them.
However, I think giving your kids the gift of knowing how to declutter and part with their own items is valuable. I am also a firm believer that kids need to take ownership of their own items, from toys to books.
You wouldn’t want someone going through your things and tossing them without your input, would you? We should respect our children’s things and get their input as well.
There are plenty of ways to give your children guidance in cleaning and decluttering their room – from toys to books and beyond.
Cleaning and Decluttering Kid Room Basics
Start with cleaning/decluttering one area in the room.
My child has his books (yep, he is a book hoarder) in his room, as well as toys. He also has two or three areas where toys are stored. I started with one area and picked the toy box first. This allowed us to declutter and purge toys from this (maybe even some he hadn’t seen for a while) and make room for other toys that needed homes as we went along.
It doesn’t have to be the toy box. Just pick any area or corner. Or better yet, let your child pick. This will keep it from being overwhelming and too much to handle.
Remember: One area at a time. Don’t let this be overwhelming.
Let your kids take time to make choices.
Make piles that represent “Keep”, “Toss”, and “Maybe”.
Tip: We actually make our toss pile into two separate areas – a sell/donate pile and a trash pile. We have a yard sale every year, and some things are worth selling or donating. Other things that are broken or just junk, go in the trash. We bring a black garbage bag up and place it at this station, so we can immediately trash it.
Make an area for “items that need a home”.
If your house is like mine, when cleaning a kid’s room (ok any room for that matter), you can sometimes find something you want to keep in an area that it totally doesn’t belong to!! For example, we would find a stray sock stuck in the toy box or even a kitchen item in the toy box!!
We make an area that we place such items and in the end, we take them to their appropriate “home” or place they belong. I’m very big on the fact that everything should have a “home”. I think it’s easier to find the things you need and it is more likely to keep things tidier.
Clean the areas prior to putting the toys or books back.
Once you have gotten all of the toys or books (or other items) out and sorted into their piles of keep, toss, or maybe, clean the area prior to putting back your keepers. My son loves to use our handheld vacuum to suck the dirt and grime out of corners! Once the area is clean, then place the keepers back neatly. This is a great time to add new cubbies or storage areas to make it more organized for the future.
Purging Children’s Toys
Allow them to pick up each toy, and in Marie Kondo’s style decide if it’s something that they want to keep, or as Marie says “sparks joy”. I think with children, you have to be a little cautious to just use the sparking of joy as a guiding tool. Every toy may spark joy.
I think it’s helpful to give some guiding questions.
- Is this a toy that you have outgrown? (If yes, time to part with it. If no, move to other questions.)
- Is this a toy that you have played within the last month?
- Is this toy one that you want to play with or are still interested in?
- Is this in good condition?
- Do you have a “home” for this item that you will put it in?
You can be introspective with this as well. You may get some insightful answers.
- Why do you want to keep this toy?
- What about this toy makes you happy?
If they are struggling, let it go to the “maybe” pile!! They can come back to it. There is no pressure to make an immediate decision!!
At the end of the decluttering, after you place the keep items back neatly, revisit your maybe pile. If any item is still a struggle for your child, allow them to keep it and deal with it again during the next purge and declutter session. There is nothing worse than the regret of getting rid of something you later wanted.
You also don’t want them to have a bad memory of decluttering and purging their items. This is something you should do at least every 6 months. If you make this painful to them or make it feel like punishment, they won’t be encouraged to do it again.
Purging Children’s Books
When it came to books, this was a bit more tricky for my own child. He finds value in every single book.
I do the same types of piles – “keep”, “maybe”, or “toss”.
If it’s a book he has outgrown, he knows to put it immediately in the toss pile. If he is reading chapter books now, there is no reason to keep a “stepping stone learn to read basic” book. If it’s a book that he read and didn’t particularly love and doesn’t think he will read again, it also goes into the toss pile.
Here’s another tip: When it comes to our Toss Pile with books, we also like to exchange them for cash or new books at Half Price Books. They will “buy” your used books and give you the option to use as a store credit or get cash. We don’t make a ton of money from that, but it’s more than I would get from a yard sale typically, and my son loves the idea of getting new books from the older ones he doesn’t want anymore! Knowing we can take books to basically exchange for new ones is a great incentive for my son to rid himself of older unwanted books! If you don’t have a Half Price Books near you, I know Amazon will also buy back books!
Make decluttering your kids’ room stress-free!
Remember, practice makes perfect. The first time you declutter with your child helping, you may not feel like you get much accomplished. Just take solace in the fact that you have done a little decluttering and some organizing. The practice of decluttering gets easier as you practice it every few months.
To recap, here are the basic steps:
- Pick one area at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself more than one section/corner/storage area at a time.
- Make piles that are “Keep”, “Toss”, and “Maybe”.
- Don’t pressure your child into decisions. Guide them, but don’t make this an unhappy event.
- Put the keepers back after cleaning out space.
- Make sure everything has a home, with small bins and cubbies.
- Revisit the maybe pile, and make a final decision!
I hope this helps your decluttering process for toys and books a little easier. Involving your kids gives them the gift of learning how to part with their items.
Let me know how it goes!