How to get your kids on board with decluttering

It’s tricky to get your children to part with 3000-odd pieces of Lego when your own drawers and cupboards are filled to the brim.

Leading by example and involving your kids in the decision-making process can help them be more receptive to the decluttering process.

Here are some tips to help your children declutter, tantrum free.

Explain why (and how) you’re decluttering

Your child might not understand why they can’t keep all of their toys, so explain decluttering to them in simple terms.

“Reinforce the benefits of living in a clutter-free home,” advises professional organiser and mum-of-two Amy Revell from Simply Organised.

“Explain how easy it is to find the toys they’re looking for and how quick they can pack up when their play space isn’t cluttered.”

Describing how their donated toys and clothes will benefit other children can motivate your child, but don’t put too much emphasis on this.

“Be careful not to use this to guilt them, or to manipulate your child’s decisions,” says Amy.

Involve your children in decluttering

As tempting as it can be to declutter your child’s possessions for them, this can do more harm than good.

“Decluttering in stealth mode (while they’re at day care or school) creates a fear of letting go in kids and mistrust toward you, their parent,” says Amy.

“As soon as they’re old enough to start packing up, at around two or three years old, it’s great to involve them in decluttering so it becomes a natural part of life for them.”

Ask what they want to keep, not what they want to get rid of

Have you asked your kid what they can get rid of, only to be told “nothing”?

You may know they haven’t played with that toy for ages (it has the dust to prove it), but they’ll be convinced it’s their favourite toy in the world.

Instead of making these decisions for them, ask what they want to keep.

“Create a natural limit of sentimental items they can keep by having a special box. Once their special box gets too full, go through it with them to only keep the pieces they still love,” says Amy.

Reduce incoming clutter

“In our family, we gift experiences rather than physical toys wherever possible, to give our kids a childhood of rich memories rather than excess toys,” says Amy.

Watch your own spending habits

Be conscious of how much you buy as well.

It’s hard to get your children to value experience over things when you’re racking up purchase after purchase.

“Minimalism and conscious consumerism begin with modelling from parents,” says Amy.

“When you’re out at the shops, watch your language (‘I have to have this!’) because your kids will start saying it back to you.”

Get more decluttering advice in The Art of Decluttering podcast, which Amy co-hosts with Kirsty Farrugia.

Written by Samantha Allemann.