Every now and again I tell my kids “You have to organize your bedroom!” without realizing that I don’t mean that at all. I mean they have to declutter their bedroom. We think those words mean the same thing, but there’s a world of difference.
Organizing means taking what you’ve already got and making it easier to navigate. Socks belong in the sock drawer, toys should be in a box when not in use, crayons shouldn’t be scattered all over the carpet, etc. etc. Basically, sorting out your stuff. But decluttering, on the other hand, decluttering means making less stuff. Sounds difficult, maybe, considering the sheer amount of items the average family buys every year, but actually it’s easier than you think.
It can be difficult to convince your children of the benefits of decluttering. You may find that when you suggest to your children that their ancient untouched toys might be better off at a thrift store, you’ve got a tantrum on your hands. (Heck, you might even find the same thing with adults!) But here’s some clear and obvious benefits of decluttering that apply to your kids as well as yourself:
It makes way for new things that you actually want or need
The #1 best way to convince your children to declutter. Explain to them that if they don’t give away old toys that they don’t play with anymore, they won’t be getting any new toys anymore because there will be nowhere to put them!
Some parents may introduce a little white lie here and tell the kids that there won’t be room for anything – no furniture, no TV, no beds! – if they don’t start cleaning out their toys. But the idea that there may come a point when they never receive any new toys ever again is usually enough to get most kids motivated.
Then, of course, comes the process of ensuring your house doesn’t get cluttered again. This means being more responsible with your spending habits and not buying things on whim. Which leads to…
It teaches your kids (and you) good habits
People may think that buying lots of things leads to happiness, but it really doesn’t. Getting into the habit of actually looking at the stuff you buy and deciding whether or not you really need it is one of the best money-saving habits you can possibly get into.
That’s not all. Encourage your children to give their toys away when they’re bored of them, instead of keeping them. (Broken toys are harder to know what to do with, but there’s a chance even they might find a good home instead of ending life in the garbage.) Tell them about all the children in the world who don’t have toys and would consider themselves lucky to have even one. Talk to them about where they might like to see their old toys go. By doing this you’re teaching your kids empathy and generosity, and those qualities may stay with them their whole lives.
It raises the value of your house
Sure, your kids might not appreciate this now – but they very well may when they’re older. Decluttering a house actually adds up to 7% of value to it, because it makes it more attractive to potential buyers. Think about it, which house would you consider when looking for a new home – one attractively organized with no clutter in the house or garden, or one with unwanted items hanging off the walls and shelves? It’s a no-brainer!
It saves all of you time in the long run
Time is a precious commodity when you have kids, so what can you do to gain more of it? Turns out decluttering your house is the answer to that too. Think about it – you’ll never again have to search for a lost item under piles and piles of other ones. And you’ll cut down the amount of time you spend cleaning, because there won’t be as much to clean! This means you’ll get to spend more time with your family – and your kids will spend less time cleaning their rooms too!
There’s a lot to be said for decluttering. It may take a bit of time, and with younger kids there may well be tears or tantrums – but your children will certainly grow to thank you.