10 tips to de-clutter your family home

Clear out that garage and turn it into cash
 Last week was our 15-year wedding anniversary and it is amazing how much “stuff” you can accumulate over this time. Prior to having children, we lived a very minimalist life; our first house was described by the estate agent as “Show Home Standard”. Now, with two children, it is often more resembling “Toy Shop Standard”

In these last few months, we have started to develop some strategies to deal with all this “stuff” and to teach the children to live a less commercial life.

If you are interested in de-cluttering your life with children, please see below our top 10 tips to help you on your way:

1. Lead by example

If you really want your children to declutter their lives and appreciate experiences more than possessions, you need to lead by example. Do you really need the latest digital TV? Will you ever use the record collection gathering dust in the garage? De-cluttering your life is a difficult thing to do, we all have emotional ties and memories linked to our possessions so do not even start this journey with children until you are ready to let go, yourselves.

2. Donate to charity
The first step to leading a more minimal life is to start to let go of things. Start by visiting charity shops with your children, explain to them the purpose of the shop and the charity it is supporting. Get over any stigmas you may have and buy a few little bits (but not too much). Talk about the environmental impact of buying new items and how much better it is to buy someone else’s unwanted items. Once your children are familiar with the process ask them to donate something; this may be a small teddy or unwanted gift. Let them take the item to the store and let then buy something “new” whilst you are there. Build this routine over a few weeks and increase the donations with each visit. Never force them to donate anything they are not comfortable with or take things without them knowing. After a few weeks take home a cardboard box, explain to the children that if you can fill the box with unwanted stuff you can visit the charity shop again and each bring home something new. Our children now look forward to the visit and we often combine it with ice cream or a trip to the park. We never bring back more than we take.

Parting with our CD collection was a very difficult decision

3. Set a goal
It is important when de-cluttering your life to have a goal, something you are aiming for as well as a clutter-free home. Would the children like to visit a theme park or book a family holiday? Use this as the incentive, print out a picture of the goal and stick it to the fridge. Work out how much you will need to fund this and how much you all need to raise. Then get together to think of what you can sell to raise some or all the cash together.

4. Clear out that loft, attic or garage space

How many of us have a space that we use to store things we no longer need? These items all have a monetary value and can be easily sold to help de-clutter and fulfil your goal. We suggest Facebook Marketplace or eBay as the easiest place to sell unwanted things. Some people would suggest a car boot sale but standing around all day watching people argue about paying 20p for an item that is clearly worth much more is not my idea of fun. Clean the item, take good photos with a clear concise description and do not set the value too high. Most items sell within days if not hours.

5. Understand their feelings
Children may feel more strongly about some items than you can imagine so it is important not to push too hard. Some items evoke strong memories for children and adults alike, taking possessions away that they are not ready to part with can cause them to have hoarding tendencies later. One good technique is to have a holding area for unwanted stuff. Ask the children to choose some items that they no longer play with as much. I suggest that these are boxed up and moved into a holding space to create more room for new things. An ideal time to do this is before Christmas or birthdays. Once the items are in this holding area they should be boxed and only removed if missed. After a set period let the children know that these items have not been played with and can now be taken to the charity shop or sold.

6. Say “NO” to other people’s offers

There is nothing worse than spending an entire weekend sorting through a pile of old toys to then have some more donated on Monday. Friends mean well when they hand down old toys or clothes, but this doesn’t mean you have to accept them all. Be wary of those who pass you a large bag of stuff unchecked. I suggest you sift through the bag before it is handed over and politely decline anything you don’t want or need at this time.

Rotate the toys to create more space in your home

7. Rotate their toys
Children love toys but often only play with certain things at certain times, by keeping some toys packed away and some out they get the joy of new (to them) toys every few weeks and you get less clutter around and fewer things to pick up.

8. Buy less "Stuff"
This is the most difficult to achieve. Living in a world of consumerism it is easy to get caught up buying the latest toys and gadgets. Children will be bombarded with adverts for the latest dolls or games and before you know it, they are all on the Christmas list and then spread over your floor. We have taken some serious steps to buy less stuff, but it is definitely not easy. Last year for Christmas the children got a keyboard each to learn piano and this has really been put to good use. We also bought them fishing rods and things we could use on days out but that didn’t stop them spending their birthday money on LOL dolls and Roblox toys. To this, I say take it easy, buy second hand where possible, buy things that will last and consider each purchase carefully before committing.

9. One in one out
Once you have your house how you like it, with less clutter and more space it is important to keep it this way. One way to do this is the One in One out technique. Each time something new is purchased something old must be sold or donated. Think about making charity donations on the way to the shops before you go out and buy the latest fashions.

10. Take small steps and don’t overdo things

It is important for children that you take things slow. Do not decide to have a clear out over the weekend and throw away half their toys. No one with children should expect to have a clutter-free home all the time. Allow the children to play and make a mess but encourage them to clear it up afterward. Give them plenty of storage boxes and shelves with doors so the mess can be hidden from few. Take your time, have patience and don’t overdo it.

Don't overdo things, I'd love this to be our child's bedroom but it is unlikely


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