The fall is full of fresh starts for everyone in my household.
For me, this includes decluttering the house.
Last year, I started giving my children some tasks to help me out. This year, we also have an ongoing construction project in progress, so giving them these tasks has been even more helpful to me. I thought I’d share a few of the jobs I give my kids to give you some ideas about how you may have your kids help you to declutter.
The following are ten tasks on my kids’ decluttering checklist.
1) Sort crayons, pens and art supplies, and get rid of art they don’t want anymore.
My children love making art. We have storage bins full of art supplies. They have a wire line in their room where they hang up their art to display.
Every couple of months, when it seems the art supply stash is getting out of hand or their wire line starts overflowing, I tell them it’s time to go through it all. They make a pile of pictures from their line for recycling.
I also give them scrap paper and give them the task of writing with every pen, marker, and gel pen they own to figure out which do not work anymore. As a side note, you can recycle marker caps if your recycling center takes #5 plastic. There are also options for recycling pens, markers, and highlighters. Unfortunately, some of these options can become expensive or need to be set up through a school district, making using them on an individual basis more difficult.
2. Go through books.
This is a little more difficult. I like to keep board books for a while. Even though they are considered baby books, they are also great for beginning independent readers. This year, I may have them put their favorite board books aside. This way, I can box them up and store them away for a couple of years until my youngest is ready to start reading. In addition, I ask my children to find duplicates if there are any. This used to happen a lot when my children had first and second birthday parties; books are a great present and we had multiples of many board book favorites. I also have them weed out books they really don’t want anymore.
3. Do puzzles to find out which ones are too easy.
My kids love puzzles. We have lots of them! I often have my kids complete a puzzle or two next to me while I clean to see if they can do it and how fast. If it looks too easy, I set it aside for donation, consignment, or to pass off to a relative.
4. Use our ‘doesn’t fit’ basket.
My children don’t enjoy trying on their whole wardrobe in one shot. In the past, I’ve unfortunately procrastinated long enough where I made them do this. This year, as we declutter, I’m going to have them take some more initiative. I have too many laundry baskets anyway, so I figure I’m going to park one of them in their room. Each time they put an item of clothing on that doesn’t fit anymore, it can go in the ‘doesn’t fit’ basket. Of course, I will also take some time in spurts over a week or two to have them try on clothing items and put any that don’t fit in the basket as well.
5. Go through weather-specific clothing and shoes.
We just cleaned out our mudroom. In our mudroom closet, each family member has a cube bin on a shelf that contains all of their mittens, scarves, neck warmers and hats. My husband and I had our children help by going through the bins. Their job was to find mittens without matches and put aside items that were too small or in bad shape. From there, I sorted what items could be donated, and what had to be disposed of in another way.
6. Round up bubble containers and help me consolidate.
I don’t know about you, but we have containers of bubbles all over my house. Or we did before I cleaned up. I had the kids help me gather up all the bubbles around the house and I took the time to consolidate the containers into larger containers. This cut the number of bubble containers in our house by half. I was able to recycle old empty bottles and wands we were done using.
7. Sort toys and stuffed animals.
This is a two-step process for me. I let my kids tackle round one. I tell them it’s time to go through all of their toys and get rid of ones that they haven’t used in a while or don’t want. Usually, they hand me one or two things after they finish. That’s why I have a step two. I wait until my husband has them on an outing or when they are at school to sneak other toys out of their room I know they haven’t touched in months. Usually, they have no clue and I know I’ve chosen wisely.
8. Go through dishes.
My kids currently have their own sets of dishes and cups. Once in a while, it’s good to go through them. Purging any old sippy cups we’ve grown out of or recycling any old plastic plates or bowls that have seen better days is always high on my list when we declutter. My kids tend to know what we don’t need anymore or what isn’t in good shape.
9. Consider what should happen with our outdoor toys.
We haven’t done this yet, but we should soon. I’m going to ask my kids what they don’t want anymore. We’ll discuss what doesn’t get played with. We will check to see if baseball mitts are too small or if there are dead tennis balls. As a side note, if you have a lot of dead tennis balls like I do, ask a teacher friend if they want them! Many teachers put them on the bottom of chairs in their classroom to decrease background noise to create a quieter learning environment for their students.
10. Help clean out the back seat of my car.
My children are always bringing yet another toy or book into the car. Which I have no problem with until they forget them in the car and then complain that they can’t find them in their room. So, I make sure I remind them to go through the backseat when they get out of the car on occasions we are in no hurry to be anywhere. In the process, they usually find some paper that can be recycled or a missing dry erase marker that needs to be returned to a set that’s already in the house, or stickers they have forgotten about.
I have made a kids’ decluttering checklist for my family, and you can use it too! It is such a relief that my kids are now old enough to help me with decluttering tasks. I just have to time my requests so that they are agreeable and the jobs are completed efficiently. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you involve your family more in your quest for a decluttered home, too!
What jobs are on your kids’ decluttering checklist?