Decluttering with Kids: 9 Tips to Make It Manageable

A little over a year ago, I started working on the decluttering process. The whole minimalism movement is getting a little cliché now, I know, but all the same, I wanted to reflect on where it’s gotten us.

At the start of this journey, I was embarrassed of my house. It was hard to have guests over because I could see their eyes glancing at the piles of laundry, fabric, toys, just everything. Everywhere you looked, there was stuff. It was overwhelming. I was overwhelmed. And it seemed like a never ending cycle. How could I even start to get rid of everything?

Bit by bit, we’ve been chipping away at this mountain in our lives. I’ll be honest, it’s really difficult to declutter with little kids around. I still stand by my 4 Tips for Decluttering With Little Kids. You can read the full article, but in brief, they are:

1. Set reasonable goals.

2. Begin with areas of least effort & highest return.

3. Have a contained junk space that you regularly sort through.

4. Do it without the kids.

But with more even more experience under my belt, I thought I’d add a few more – So let me tell you what else works (at our house, at least!):

5. Send the kids to grandma’s house. This is a magnification of tip #4, “do it without the kids”. We’ve gotten the largest strides done when our families have taken the children for a few weekends this past year. You can get rid of a lot of stuff in 48 hours, kids-free!

6. Declutter furniture. I kid you not. We got rid of our bedframe (sort of) and two couches. It’s crazy how much of a difference removing a piece of furniture can make! It opens up more free space than (nearly) any other kind of purging can. (And so I guess this one could technically fall under #2). This is never something we intended on doing originally, but it’s been one of the best moves we’ve made.

7. Get an extra trash can & a large recycling can. Yes, donate first, then recycle, then trash. Nobody kill me. But seriously, the easier your exit plan for your stuff is, the faster you’ll be able to move it out. An extra trash can was only an additional $3 a month for us. I found it to be a very easy visual prompt – if the recycling can isn’t full for trash day, I purposefully go through the house or garage and find stuff to fill it (and same goes for the second trash can). Wash, rinse, repeat, and if you’ve cut back on your acquisitions department (ahem – stop shopping), then your house will just get lighter and lighter!!

8. Be brutal. I could talk for hours about this.

9. Pat yourself on the back. Purging your stuff is hard work! Take before and after pictures so you can see how much better your house looks, revel in its clean state, and then pour yourself a celebratory drink. You earned it, now enjoy it. I found that stopping to acknowledge the progress we had made gave us both a break, and motivation to do more. Without resting, you’ll just burn out.

The other night, I looked around at our messy family room. The kids were in bed, and my husband and I were enjoying a nightcap and winding down. “You know what? Right now, we would consider this messy. But a year ago, this is what our house looked like after we had cleaned.”

And that, folks, is why it’s worth it.


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