Let’s get straight to the point.
Do your kids have too many toys?
Naturally, the answer will vary from household to family and from income level to age of the children, nevertheless it is a question that still isn’t being addressed often enough these days, by this I mean in the current state of rampant consumerism.
We love our children, truly we do, but we aren’t doing them any favors by buying them more than they need, in fact, most of the time we are unknowingly causing them harm.
Too much “stuff” invites jealousy, envy and feelings of under-appreciation, it acts as a cover for what is really missing in our lives.
At first glance, it may appear that we are doing well in life, when we have more than enough, yet when we cannot appreciate the abundance of what we have, it all starts to fall apart.
And if it is hard for adults to realize that, then what are children to think?
After all, we are the “ones in control”, we are the purchasers and funders of their amusement and entertainment and we try our best at buying them what we think they need for their education and companionship.
If somehow, by a stroke or luck (or genius) you are able to see the danger of too much stuff and how it is guiding our kids in the wrong direction, then know that there are some gentle, yet effective actions that you can take as a parent, grandparent, caregiver, close relative or friend that can reduce the amount of unnecessary clutter in a child’s life.
If it so happens that an outside source calls your child a spoiled brat, or points fingers at their ungratefulness or wantingness, take a mental note, remain quiet and move on. There is often little point in arguing, just be the change and make your point that way, by setting example, rather than enforcing strict rules.
Kids learn by watching, especially when they are of a young age. It is your responsibility to show them some behaviors worth repeating!
Is your kitchen tidy and ready for preparing family meals every day? Is your living room uncluttered and ready for entertaining guests at a moment’s notice? Are your clothes put away and your books too?
How to unclutter your kids’ room?
First things first, it starts with you!
What you allow in your home, will come in directly through the door, willingly or not. However it is not for you alone to decide what leaves at any given time, you wouldn’t want someone to toss your stuff away while you were at work, right?
Get your kids to help in uncluttering their toys, their clothes and their books.
Discuss with them why it is good to give things away that they no longer need or use.
Help them decide why a few good quality things are better than 100 cheaply produced ones.
Show them, while shopping together, the difference between fast fashion and ethical clothing, so that they can make their own wise decisions in the future.
Trust that your kids can think in complex terms, about how everything they buy or receive as a gift impacts the environment, far or near – treat them as adults and encourage them to be a critical part of the advertising and buying process.
It doesn’t matter what age your kids are, get them started early on the concept of volunteer simplicity and how to become a minimalist. Have just enough stuff to care sufficiently for your children, allow them to be creative and give them every opportunity they need for interest-led learning, show them how to be happy and content, but for fulfillment, teach them to look outside of brand names and the shopping mall. You can find plenty of stuff there, a disturbing amount in fact, but it won’t foster personal growth or much intelligence.
Time spent with friends and family, dinner parties, camping, hiking, going to the beach – these are the times well spent, away from stuff, at the same time creating the experiences and memories that really matter.
If you arrived here expecting a how-to list to unclutter your kid’s room, here it is in the most minimal version available.
- Separate toys that are played with from the ones that are not.
- Put lonesome toys in a box.
- Let them sit a month unattended.
- If they aren’t asked for – sell, donate, recycle, throw away – whatever is best.
Now repeat the same steps with clothes, then with books.
If you, or your child, doesn’t use it, then clear the space (making it available for creative, undisturbed play) and remember not to bring more of the excess back in!
Get comfortable with the idea of less, let your kids in on the enjoyment too. Children catch on quickly, so start soon, the younger the better. Trust me, as a mother of a six-and-a-half-year old, they will understand and they will develop good habits about recognizing clutter among the stuff and be able to get rid of it without shedding a tear. It will also help prevent them from developing the habit of buying too much once they are the one carrying a wallet.
What do you struggle with in uncluttering your kids’ room? Let us know in the comments below!
If you need help on your uncluttering journey, I am here to guide you along the way.
My Unclutter Your Home, Unclutter Your Life, Unclutter Your Mind virtual declutter coaching is available for Pay What You Can till April 30th, 2017. Spring cleaning is the best time to organize and freshen up your home, start getting uncluttered today!