Monday, 25 January 2010

Get Kids' Clutter Under Control

The following is a guest post from Sherri Kruger who writes at Zen Family Habits, a blog celebrating all things family. She’s a stay at home mom of two and also writes at her personal development blog dedicated to sharing simple tips to enjoy life.
Where there are kids, there are toys. Where there are a lot of toys there is usually clutter. In fact, it wouldn't be too bad if all we had to deal with were toys. But there is also all the stuff that comes along with back-to-school, birthday parties, holidays and other events we participate in throughout the year.

Kids clutter can get out of control if you let it. So if you're feeling a tad overwhelmed right now relax, I'll share with you a few ideas on how to get kids clutter under control.

1. Take stock of what you have. Pull it all out. I mean all of it. You can't get a handle on something you don't know the full extent of. Once all the toys, winter parkas, spring jackets etc ... have been dragged out into the center of their room begin sorting. There is a number of different ways you can do this, so choose one that makes sense for you, your family and your storage abilities. For clothes you can sort by season, size, type (pants, shirts, socks) and for toys sort by recommended age, type or size.

2. Purge. One sure way to reduce clutter is to get rid of it. Take a good hard look at all the toys and clothes in front of you. If things no longer fit, are out of style, badly stained or no longer played with, it's time to part ways. Donate or sell toys and clothes that are still in good shape. Everything else that is broken or beyond repair throw it out. Most important thing here is to get it out of your house as quickly as possible and don't negotiate to bring it back in.

3. Choose a sub-set. Before you start planning how to organize the keepers choose a sub-set of toys for your kids to play with for the day/week/month. From my own experience kids become overwhelmed when they have so many toys to choose from. When they have fewer choices they learn to master the ones they currently have access to and they actually become more creative with them. The number of toys you choose to keep out is up to you. But once you've decided it's time to put the other toys away and out of reach.

4. Organize. There are a number of organizing techniques but I always say choose the one that suits you the best. There is nothing worse than going with a system that you have to fight with. For toys, books and art supplies that will be readily accessible for your kids, consider creating a system that is kid friendly. Use baskets, tubs or bins and stick a laminated photo to the front of the bin to indicate what goes in it. If your kids are old enough to read then use a label maker to label drawers, bins or shelves.

5. Switch them out. So you've chosen a few toys for you kids to play with and the rest are safely out of sight. Every week or once a month rotate the toys. Put away the toys they've been playing with and replace them with a few from the storage bin. This works wonders in terms of get your kids interested in and excited for an old toy again.

Other ideas to consider:
  • Over the door pocket organizer - not just for shoes anymore. Use it to hold dolls, papers, crayons, toy cars, small books or toiletries.
  • Cubby system - each kid can have their own set of shelves or you can label each one to corral specific items.
  • Art work - put an end to fridge clutter by framing your kids art work and hanging it in their room, the family room or play area. Alternatively, stick art work to their bedroom door or on a family bulletin board. Take pictures of their art work so you have a memory of it without having to hold on to the physical item.
  • Get kids involved in clean up - at the end of the day take a few minutes to walk around the house and put all of their stuff away. Toys, shoes, boots, jackets, clothing etc ... get your kids involved so they know what's expected of them.
Controlling clutter is easiest when there's little to control. Start small, focus on doing one thing at a time and just get started.
photo credit


  1. Welcome Sherri, nice to read you! I love the over the door organizers! We have one in each kid's room. It's so easy to have clutter all over. My worst nightmare? Glittery things that leave star dust everywhere!! :)
    Have a great week!

  2. Hi Sherri
    It really is amazing how much a family household can horde over the years. Just the other weekend I was helping my mum declutter the loft with games and clothes my sister and I accumulated from 30 years ago!! It is true…the only way to get rid of what you don’t need is to put every single item in the middle of a room and be decisive! The idea of framing artwork in the kid’s rooms/play area is great.


  3. First of all thank you Holly for running my post here at Mummy Zen. You have a lovely site and I'm glad to be able to contribute to it.

    @ Maryse - I know what you mean about the glitter. I bought Christmas ornaments this year that are all glitter ... it got every. where. Luckily have boys so I don't see a lot of glitter in my future :)

    @ Antonia - I'm glad you found this post useful. My son started pre-school at the beginning of January and after every class he has a new work of art. I've actually started putting them on his door. He thinks that's pretty neat :)

  4. I am always amazed at how good I feel after a clear-out. Getting our homes in order helps to get our minds in order too. My favourite Feng Shui tip involves de-cluttering the entrance of a home, as the main entry determines the quality of Chi and energy, that later circulates throughout our living space. With regards to unused toys and clothes, there are many collections being gathered for transfer to the victims of the Haiti earthquake right now. Thanks for your tips Sherri.

  5. Hi over here from BMB. Great tips. Thank you.


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!