Boston parents of two boys (ages 2 and 10) and one girl (age 8) committed to five consecutive days of tidying over their February vacation. With three full-time jobs between them including a budding start-up, the parents reached a point where the clutter in their home stalled their ability to efficiently run their household and lives and it was time for a reset. With little ones at our feet, this five day tidying marathon kicked off. Then, something somewhat unexpected occurred…the children became involved almost immediately and turned into KonMari Kids overnight! Here are five tidy tips that are kid-tested and mother-approved based on one family’s experience:
Lead by example, because your kids are always watching. You may think not even a minor earthquake would take your child’s gaze away from Minecraft or Pokemon. However, as you tidy, you create a commotion (the life-changing kind :)) and the kids will come running! Use their curiosity as an opportunity to explain that you are simplifying things in the household so you all can be more happy and spend a lot more time together. Now that you’ve captured their attention, try to learn more about their ideal life. Ask them what their dream room would look like or ask them to make a wish list of the things they want to do this summer.
Prepare to help them by setting their items aside. Set aside kids clothing, artwork etc. that are integrated into shared areas of your home so you can be prepare to address them with your children when the moment is right. Younger kids rarely curb their enthusiasm, so you may notice that as you move through clothing, books, paper, etc. they tell you they want their room to look like yours! Tidy the moment they’re ready, but try not to use their interest as a way to avoid completing your own journey!
Make it FUN! Let them choose what they want to keep by category (Clothing, Books, Paper, Miscellaneous, Sentimental items). After they’ve made a pile representing one category, have them close their eyes and grab the first thing they reach out and touch. They should be able to describe what they like or don’t like about the item and understand how to distinguish joy. If they have trouble understanding this concept or making a decision, lay three similar items down and ask them which one they like the most.
Compromise your way to clutter free kids. It is important to listen closely to the way your child considers the objects they are surrounded by with zero judgement or interruption. You’ll be surprised what you hear. After they’ve selected what they want to keep, gently make the case for the items you noticed may need to go due to condition, fit, etc. Remind them of their dream life and/or the storage limitations their room presents to keep them grounded. If your child wants to discard something that sparks joy for you, discuss the value of the object and the reason it should stay out loud. As you continue your journey you may realize you agree it can be discarded after all!
Use tidying to spread lessons of gratitude, respect, and joy. Unlike adults, kids don’t immediately judge or dismiss ideas that may seem quirky or different. For example, they quickly embrace the idea of saying “thank you” to each object they’re discarding without question and feel good knowing their things are going to someone in need. This is a teachable moment, so work with them to come up with a donation plan. Memorialize this activity by making a “Thank You Box” where they can discard future joyless items on their way to a new home.
Let’s watch these tips in action!
What challenges do you experience when trying to tidy with kids? Let’s chat.
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