Getting kids to clean and declutter their own spaces can be a challenge, but it’s such an important life skill that we need to teach them! In the video above, my tween daughter decluttered her room and was willing to share how we work through it.
Here are 6 tips to help you through the process:
1. Talk to them about it.
Give time for the kids to warm up to the idea. Let them know that you will help them, but you won’t force them to get rid of things.
Talk to them about the benefits of simplifying, what is currently hard to organize or keep clean and what would make it easier to keep the room clean.
2. Determine ahead of time the goal.
Enter your email for the FREE tally chart we used:
A not-so-cluttered space may have 500-1000 items to get rid of. A very cluttered toy room may easily have 2000 items.
Set a reward for the amount.
200 items= reward
400 items= bigger reward.
2000 items= huge reward
– special food date
– play at the park
– go swimming
– watch a movie together
– play a family board game
– $.05 for each item you get rid of (be careful to set an amount you’re ok with- kids always get rid of more when they can make bank! 😂)
And remember, it’s ok to barter:
If they’ve been eyeing a special lego: get rid of x-amount and we’ll get the lego set.
Or get rid of x-amount and you can have 2 hours of extra game time tonight.
3. Set a number for how many of each category should we keep.
For example: “Let’s just keep 20 stuffed animals or one box of craft supplies.”
Having a predetermined number helps so much. It means they go into the process with the mindset of “I’m keeping 20 of the best cars and giving the rest to someone else.”
It’s best if the kids come up with their own rewards and own numbers. Of course, you can guide their decision, but as much as possible, allow them to feel like they are the one that made the choice- this will make the whole process go smoothly.
4. Respect their spaces.
Make sure they know you aren’t going to pressure or guilt them into getting rid of things or keeping things that you think should be special. This is their decision- they may keep things you feel are worthless and decide to get rid of things you feel are sentimental. Allow them the freedom of deciding for themselves.
5. Ask them questions as you work.
➡️Which items do you use?
➡️Which ones bring you joy?
➡️When was the last time you used/played with this?
➡️Do you see yourself using this soon?
➡️Why do you think this is special?
➡️Why do you want to keep it?
➡️Is that a good reason to keep something?
If kids are really struggling, they may find it easier if you take a picture of each item they let go. Somewhere on my phone, I have a picture of a pen collection and several pretty rocks. They’ve never asked to see them, but at the time, it helped them to let go.
6. Celebrate when they make the decisions.
Anything they let go of is a victory! Make a big deal about it!
“YAY YOU!! Look at how much you’ve done!! I’m so proud of you!!” 🥳
Keep in mind that this is a process. Don’t expect them to go full-minimalist from the get-go. Think of it as peeling off layers. This month it may be 500, in two months, it might be 300, next year, they might be fully ready to call themselves “minimalist.”
If your children are still dragging their feet. It’s ok. Give them grace. Getting rid of things may be harder for them. In that case, lead by example. Get rid of your items before you pressure them into decluttering theirs. Let them see how clean and free the rest of the house is and then talk about how they would feel if their room was like that.
Note about stuff and family members:
I am a minimalist. But I don’t force it on my family. I’ve never guilted them into getting rid of things or convinced them to, just for my reputation sake. I have had too many people email me saying their mom would go through their room when they were at school, and now they have hoarding tendencies.
How our children learn life skills is far more important than “what would people think if they saw this room??”
My daughter Naomi has always been more attached to things and though the boys are fairly minimal, she hasn’t wanted to let things go. This week, I asked her to make another pass through her room. To find inspiration we went to YouTube and she was so disappointed that we didn’t find any videos of the kids actually doing the work. It was so motivating for her to declutter thinking about how she was going to inspiring other kids.
So, if like me, you’ve been asking your children to declutter, and they haven’t wanted to, suggest they make a video to help other kids! 😉 And if you’re not tech savvy- set your phone camera on time-lapse so they will see their work when they are done. 🙂 And if you do, please send me the link so I can show Naomi. 😁