Clutter creates stress.
Why? Because having unnecessary items floating around your home, car, or personal space creates a general feeling of chaos and disorganization...both of which feel overwhelming and stressful!
The issue of managing clutter becomes even more complicated when you have kids. Kids of all ages have an uncanny ability to collect things that move well beyond the regular day-to-day clutter of the adult world.
Toddlers are magnets for stickers, game pieces, and seemingly useless possessions that suddenly become emotional attachments. School-age children collect all sorts of scraps of paper, artwork, and goodie-bag swag, and tweens and teens are hard-pressed to throw anything away!
And just wait until the school year starts again when endless sheets of paper find their way home to settle into a pile, drawer, or stuffed backpack.
I'm stressed out just writing about this!
So, how can you help your kids de-clutter ASAP so your entire family can de-stress a little? Here are 5 great ways to start:
1. Sort on your way in.
Keep a trash and/or recycling bag right outside the door you usually use to enter your home (for us, it's the interior garage door). This way you can coach your kids to sort through belongings in the car before entering the house. What never makes it in the door never has a chance to become clutter in the first place!
2. Give your child a space that's his or her own.
Choose a drawer, basket, or bin and allow your child to use that as a place to store items that might not have a specific "home" yet. This prevents things from accumulating on counter-tops and allows your child one catch-all place to store things until they're ready to use them or part with them.
3. One in, two out.
This is a great rule to of thumb that keeps the flow of "stuff" from outgrowing your physical space...for each new item that makes its way into your child's life, ask him or her to donate two similar items. This concept helps kids pause and reflect before asking for a new possession and offsets the all-too-common consumer mindset of more-more-more!
4. Stay positive.
De-cluttering isn't a punishment and judging your child's desire to keep every single gum wrapper from the past school year probably won't help you streamline your family's organizational systems. Remember to validate the fact that getting rid of things is hard and communicate that while you understand it may be boring or annoying to de-clutter, it's important to do anyway.
5. Make donations a way of life.
The act of giving to others is a fantastic practice to instill in your child. Once every few weeks give your kids a bag and encourage them to fill it with toys, clothes and personal items that they've outgrown or no longer use. Having your child accompany you to donate the items makes the act more personal and will hopefully encourage more giving (and less clutter) in the future.
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