Teaching Kids to Declutter in Se7en Steps…

I know – Another post on decluttering!!! But now you can see I am working it out and passing the gift on to my children! We are about to have our winter break from school. The first thing we do whenever we go on a school break is declutter – whip though everyone’s drawers and start fresh and clean. You would be (maybe you wouldn’t!) amazed at how quickly it becomes a disaster zone, mostly it is just not putting things back where they belong… a secret lego cache, a pile of books, stuff on their beds that needs to be out of the way to sleep – all jammed in.

The thing about homeschooling is that you have to learn to declutter with your kids watching your every move. No sneaking things out the house while they are at school! Interestingly enough our kids are mastering the art of decluttering and it is becoming a habit for them to be discerning as they realize their space doesn’t get any bigger. Every school holidays we spend the first couple of days decluttering and organizing what is left behind! It has just got to the stage where I cannot declutter my way through all the kids goodies as well as the rest of the house so I am teaching them to declutter for themselves.

This is our Se7en Step Plan to decluttering:


Step One: Empty the space out completely.


Step Two: Only put back what you want there.

Step Three: Split what is left out into a pile of things to put back where they belong and a pile of things you don’t want, need or love anymore.


Step Four: Put all the things in the pile to put away back where they belong. Everything. Make the effort to put things where they belong! Buttons in the button box, coins in the wallet, needles in the needle tin. You get it! If you run out of steam then you probably don’t need that stuff quite as much as you thought you did!!!


Step Five: The second pile split into a donate and a discard pile. The discard pile can usually be recycled: art projects and papers galore – put them straight into the recycling bag.


Step Six: The donate pile needs to be checked for broken beyond repair, or does it need a quick fix then fix it! Does it need a quick clean – then clean it!


Step Se7en: There is always a pile of goodies that is dubious… doesn’t belong anywhere, can’t chuck out and aren’t ready to discard… Pop those in a box and plonk them in the cupboard where I keep these boxes… just ignore them – forget them, let them go. Whatever you do don’t look in them for a long time, when you do you will probably have a good laugh and be ready to part with the contents!

These are exactly the steps I use to declutter around our house – works for the in-tray, a kitchen drawer and even an entire cupboard. I guess that they have seen me declutter a spot often enough to know how it is done and they are starting to figure out how to do it for themselves. Amen to that!!!

I popped this post onto The Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

22 Replies to “Teaching Kids to Declutter in Se7en Steps…”

  1. I loved this. I just recently decluttered my entire house with the help of some great friends. Two of them LOVE to do that sort of thing and by the end I could see why. I love all the room I have now! And we don’t miss anything. THe house is so much easier to keep clean. I can have it all picked up in less than an hour. SO lovely. (also, I have just two children…I’m sure that once there are more things will change a bit. lol).

    I wondered if you could give tips on discipline. My husband is gone for work for 18mos. We are 9mos in and have been doing all right, I think. My biggest trouble right now is with our 3 year old. She talks back all the time, I can’t seem to get her to listen (the first, 5th or 20th time), and she takes an attitude with me on almost everything. She doesn’t have a lovey or anything she cares enough about for me to take away. I realize that she is just being 3 and that life is a bit crazy right now…but I need to regain control here and I’m at a loss. Any advice?

  2. Hi, Im Taryn’s sister and I wonder if the decluttering is also what people call nesting!
    We are in the same boat right now, I’m 38 weeks and the last weeks we have been doing just that: decluttering. We have our 2 month summer break her in Israel right now.
    Nesting seems to be something that happens near the end of pregnancy!

  3. Hi S, Isn’t being decluttered lovely!!! I will think about your discipline question and generate a post in the future. Not that I am the grand master of discipline by any means. But my children have trained me well – you have to be consistent or they will conquer you. Let me think about it for a little while and then post on it in the next week or two. Good luck and have a great weekend!

  4. Hi K, How nice of you to stop by!!! We call the decluttering madness of pregnancy nesting as well… I don’t know what we will do when we stop having kids every other year!!! Because surely our house won’t get the “every other year” massive clean sweep that it does now and will soon disintegrate into total chaos!!! All the best with your new baby! Have a great weekend…

  5. Hi there 🙂 I had to comment because I’ve got the decluttering plan for our first week back to homeschool (was supposed to be last week of hols, but ahem, didn’t happen!) I have Monday morning all figured out for decluttering the kids stuff – once again, well timed, because besides our similar methods, I, once again, learn one or two things more from you! Thank you!

    PS I see my sweet wonderful sister commented above too – you’re 2 steps ahead of her – she’s pregnant with #6! 😉 My folks are going to be spinning with all 13 grandkids come September!

  6. Hi T… I have to laugh because there is not a chance on the week back at school that I could ever do a declutter… really first week back I just grit my teeth and hang on for the ride!!! Good luck with back to school!

  7. hee hee – yes, I don’t actually plan to school on Monday – unless you count decluttering as a “home management” module or something! 😉 I’m hoping that a few “15 minute” moments should get the kids clutter boxes sorted at least.

  8. Great article!
    My decluttering tip is to buy a buy a large notebook and divide your page into two columns – “Essential” and “Non-Essential Items”.
    Then go around the room and put every single item in one column or another.
    When you have finished your “hit-list”, move the offending items (from the non-essential section) to a designated collection point to get your room “clutter-free”!!!

  9. I need to start prepping our kids for our upcoming roadtrip. This will be that farthest we’ve traveled together in the van, and they’re sure to get antsy!

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