Having a clutter-free child is probably a dream, given the complexity of children’s lives
these days. However, you do have influence over your child, and can begin teaching them how to be conscious of their belongings and the impact they have on your home and family.
- Model clutter clearing at every opportunity. Make sure they see you managing clutter every day, witness you clearing your closet seasonally, clearing whenever there is a new influx of things at holidays and on birthdays. Your actions speak much louder than your words.
- Teach them the “Love It, Use It or Lose It” method of clutter clearing. Teach them that items worthy of keeping in the prime real estate of their rooms are things they love or use at least once a year. Encourage them to give away or throw away (Lose It!) any things that they don’t love or use.
- Involve your child in daily clutter clearing. Urge them to recycle school papers that are no longer useful. Have them put out recycling bins. Ask them to move items to other parts of the house when you are clearing counters and picking up rooms during your daily maintenance activities. Ask them to clean up after themselves.
- Schedule daily clean-up time. Set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes every evening before bed and have everyone use that time to put things away, take dishes to the sink, and create order in both the public areas of the home as well as bedrooms. Start doing this when children are old enough to put their toys away. That way it will become a habit before they become accustomed to Mom clearing clutter for them and then resist doing their part in household clutter clearing.
- Schedule a major clutter clearing session with each child once or twice a year. During the summer is a great time to do this. It’s a great time to let go of old notebooks and papers from the previous school year in preparation for the new year. It will also teach them that when you finish one chapter of your life, it’s beneficial to clear the old before launching into the new. Pre or post Christmas is another good time to initiate a major clearing session since there will be new toys, books, clothes and other items coming into their rooms.
- Give children gift cards to their favorite establishments instead of lots of little gifts that never get used just so they will have packages to open at Christmas, birthdays and other holidays. Instead of just giving gift cards to get more stuff, give cards foe their favorite eating establishments or for activities they would enjoy–like membership to the zoo or museums, tickets for a play, tickets for a special excursion to a place they have always wanted to visit. This type of gift sends the message that experiences and activities are a way to get pleasure, de-emphasizing the significance of things that can clutter up a space.
- Teach your child to clear clutter for good–their good, the good of the family, and the good of their community. When they clear things they no longer love or use, they will have more mental clarity, make better decisions, and make space for more of what they really want in life. Their clearing will have a positive effect on the whole house because everything is connected and clutter can cause irritation and conflict among family members. And, what they clear and donate to charities can become a blessing to people in the community. A pre-Christmas clearing can be a great community service project for a family that will make space for gifts received and will teach children that it’s important to help others who don’t have as many toys, clothes, andbooks as they do.
When clutter clearing becomes a part of daily life for your children, you’ll have fewer clutter problems. And, your children will be less stressed and better equipped to deal with the many challenges of growing into responsible, productive adults.