Clutter-Free With Kids: 5 Simple Tips to Manage the Mess
Every mom has stood in the middle of her living room, looked around, and wondered, “How in the world did this happen?” It goes without saying that your home won’t be as spotless as it was before you had children, but it certainly doesn’t have to appear to have entertained a tornado. Here are some ways to control the chaos, reduce the clutter, and reclaim your home from all of your children’s things.
1. Reduce the number of toys available for your children to play with.
It makes sense that the fewer toys you have in your house, the fewer will be on your floor. But you know what else? Having fewer toys is also better for your kids. Too many options overwhelm them, making it difficult to choose what to do and leaving your child more likely to be whining at you that they’re bored, despite a mountain of potential playthings. So whether you decide to pare down permanently by dropping off a bunch of boxes at the local Goodwill, or you just decide to store half your toys in your garage to swap out seasonally, simply removing them from your home will help ease the clutter significantly.
2. Have organizational systems that your small child can understand.
Kids are more likely to clean up if they know how. If you expect everything to be stacked neatly on a shelf, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment – and your child up for frustration. If, however, you have toy bins labeled with pictures of what is supposed to go in them, your child can easily match the picture and toss in the appropriate toy. If you keep kids’ dishes, utensils, and bibs in a low-level drawers, they can easily access them and help you unload the dishwasher. Their spaces might not be perfectly organized according to your (adult) standards, but the clutter is hidden, and the home is cleaned up.
3. Contain the toys to specific areas of the house.
You can either do this by making certain areas of your house (like the dining room, kitchen, or formal living room) “off-limits” to toys, or by insisting that toys remain in specific rooms of your house like the playroom or your child’s bedroom. To do this, you’ll need to make sure the “toy rooms” are completely safe for your little one to play in so they can remain unsupervised. Bolt furniture to the walls and ensure there are no structures they are likely to climb. Make sure they don’t have toys that are too small to choke on. Once you have areas of your home that are permanently toy-free and easier to maintain, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by the potential clutter in the other rooms.
4. Implement the “one-toy-at-a-time” rule.
Train your child early to play with one toy at a time, and to put it back before they take out a new one. This will be labor-intensive for you at the beginning, but over the long haul, it will be worth it as the clutter in your home is reduced, and your child automatically cleans up after themselves out of habit.
5. Break up with the artwork.
If your child is in daycare, preschool, or attends any sort of children’s group regularly, you know that they will come home with crafts, art, and half-finished coloring sheets. These things get piled on your kitchen counter as you hesitate to display them but wrestle with guilt about tossing them. Let me save you both time and sanity: choose a few extra-special pieces to keep each year, but throw the rest in the recycle bin. If it pains you too much to simply discard them all, take a photo with your cell phone or consider a service like ArtKive to preserve your child’s creativity in a way that doesn’t contribute to the clutter.
By limiting the number of items available to clutter up your floors and restricting the mess to specific rooms in your house, you’ll be able to reclaim your home from your kids and reduce the chaos that can easily overrun a home with small children. Even better, you’ll raise your kids in an environment that will help them develop their own healthy housekeeping skills that will follow them into adulthood. What are some of your best tips to contain the clutter in your house?
This is a guest post from Jenny Silverstone, just another mom trying to do her best. When she’s not trying to trick her kids into cleaning up after themselves, she enjoys writing about her struggles with breastfeeding, breast pumping tips & more on her blog Mom Loves Best and on Pinterest.