It seems like kids these day have So. Much. Stuff. Clothes, toys, school art projects, prizes, birthday cards…despite my best efforts, the clutter builds up over time.
In the past, I would wait until my daughter Lilu was away to do a major clean-up, afraid that she would be upset about getting rid of things. However, one day I decided that it wasn’t fair that I had to do it all by myself. It is her room after all!
What a pleasant surprise when Lilu was not upset to clean, but rather she was HAPPY to help! I hadn’t given her enough credit, but she was actually very capable of making thoughtful decisions about what to do with each item we evaluated during the cleaning and organizing process.
For each item in question, there were three possibilities:
- Trash. The item is broken and not fixable. Or it is legitimately trash. (It was crazy how much actually trash I would find in random places! Clothing price tags that fell behind the bed, used scrap paper, etc.)
- Keep. It is a clothing item that is in good condition, still fits, and is still worn on a regular basis. It is a toy that still gets frequent play time. It holds high sentimental value (for Lilu, not me — I did respect her feelings on certain things that meant a lot to her, but that I might not see as valuable).
- Yard Sale. My mother in law has a big yard sale each fall and spends months beforehand gathering and sorting items to include. Any clothing that Lilu has outgrown, toys that weren’t a hit, and/or any baby gear that Annabelle is done with goes in this pile. Might as well find these things a good home AND make a little extra cash at the same time! (Items that don’t sell are donated).
Determining if an item was trash was fairly easy. However, it could be a bit more difficult to decide what to do with the rest! I made it as simple as possible for Lilu with a two-question system that was VERY effective.
When we were evaluating whether to keep or save an item for the yard sale, these are the two questions I would ask Lilu:
- Have you used (worn, played with, etc.) this in the past year?
- Does seeing it make you want to use it right this moment?
If she answered “no” to both of these questions, then the item went in the yard sale bag. By following this simple system, we were able to finish her entire room in just a couple hours!
The final result of our clean-up: 2 bags of trash (seriously, where did all of that come from??), 1 bag of yard sale clothes, and 2 bags of yard sale toys. Her room wasn’t a disaster before, so it was amazing to see just how much of the stuff that was in there was unnecessary!
Recommended Reading: Teach kids from an early age that cleaning can be fun with the playful, rhyming book Clean-Up Time (Toddler Tools) by Elizabeth Verdick
Kids usually won’t initiate a clean-up or organize their own room without prompting, but you might be surprised when they actually want to help and be a part of the decision-making process — if you just ask them. Even if they don’t tell you so, many kids are comforted by order and cleanliness and they will enjoy the quality time spent with you. (And you probably will too!) Plus, the end result is SO worth it!
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