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  • How To Declutter with Kids

    by Elizabeth Meehan

    I personally feel the guilt when I get rid of my girls’ toys without their knowledge and I’ve experienced the struggle with clients too. We have this vision of a broken hearted 5year old when they discover they’re valuable stuffed toy from the fun fair has gone - 9 times out if 10 they don ’t, but it’s that slim chance that terrifies us. But we all know how suddenly attached they get to that half complete toy they got from a £1 machine in the local park cafe, or a toy they haven’t even looked at for months or even years; if we sit with them and try to get them to separate with anything they see as theirs it can be like pulling teeth and you end up after a long time only throwing out maybe a dried up bit of play-doh! Exasperating.

    However, I stopped with the toys and tried a clear out with my daughter’s wardrobe. This was a different story. She loved it and now most days she wants to do the whole process again. She creates three piles: Yes, No and Maybe; she creates her own responses to each piece of clothing, this may vary in arm movements, different head movements or whole body movements, indicating the Yes, No or Maybe category. A double tap of the head may mean Yes, a sudden whoosh of the up arm may mean No and a little wiggle of the body may mean maybe. She really enjoys it.

    We approach it in categories e.g. T-shirts, long sleeved tops, jumpers, trousers etc. In order for it not to be overwhelming we tend to do one category per evening whilst waiting for the bath to run; most of the time she wants to do more, so we may do another category whilst she’s drying off. She’s even keen when it comes to every pair of socks and knickers!

    She really enjoys deciding what to do with the unwanted pieces of items. Whether, it goes to her little sister, friends or a charity shop. This gives her a sense of control and a direct involvement in deciding what happens to her possessions. Which is very important when you are decluttering other peoples’ property.

    It has now transcended over to her toys and books - hallulah! We approach it by category, e.g puzzles, soft toys, dressing up clothes, etc. Not doing it in categories makes the whole process even more overwhelming and causes the reaction to hold on to everything and not let go. We also discuss where we can give her old toys, bringing in the subject of charity, schools, friends etc. So not only are you decluttering your home, you’re educating and nourishing their empathy and thoughtfulness. Again, loving the feeling of being involved and consulted on her toys.

    However, if there is still a struggle especially with items you know your little ones will never play with again, I do admit to hiding these items either in a cupboard away from their play area or the loft. I wait for about a week and if they haven’t been noticed I discard of them appropriately. If I need to to do a big clear out, I wait for the kids to be out of the house. There are times still where my 5 year still get attached.


    TOP TIPS

    1. Make it fun. Put music on, make up songs as you go along etc.
    2. Make them feel like they’re in control and tell them about passing things on
    3. Never keep broken toys or toys with missing parts.
    4. Do it when they’re not in if they can’t let go of anything.
    5. Think about toys you can put into storage for rotation.
    6. Place toys into categories eg all puzzles together, soft toys together.
    7. Invest in some storage. Create an orderly environment to create a calm space.

    The Great little Trading Company have an amazing range of storage solutions for any space and really fun designs for the storage cubes.

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    For a more adult friendly system, these ‘Drums’ from Camerich provide a chic and stylish solution. A leather finish on the base and a wooden lid.

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    These play and go mats are great for toys like lego. Quick and easy to get out, play and pack away.

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    Ikea have always had good storage solutions at reasonable prices

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