Ducks 'n a Row: The Rule of 3: Practical Tips To Help Kids De-Clutter

22 January 2015

The Rule of 3: Practical Tips To Help Kids De-Clutter

Guest Post by Victoria Mininger of Simplified Life

When my kids were little it was a lot easier to keep their rooms de-cluttered.  I would wait until they were down for a nap or off with grandma and then head into their rooms and do a "Mom Sweep."  Taking out what they didn't need, outgrown or broken, and disposed of it as I saw fit.
Then my kids started getting older and more aware of what existed in their spaces.  They were now going to school and bringing home every single paper that they touched or drew a line on.  All of those things were "special" and nothing could be thrown away.
Before you knew it, the underside of the bed looked like a paper factor. Inhaling whole sheets of paper on one side and spitting them out as wadded up balls on the other.  McDonald's toys and Dollar Store finds littered the floor and found themselves in every nook and cranny of the room - only to re-appear later, underfoot, in the middle of the night, as you stumbled to your child's bedside to check on their welfare.
On occasion a smell would begin to emanate from under the bed, and upon further exploration there would surface a soured cup of milk and hundreds of little candy wrappers.   ("So that's where all the Halloween candy went.")
Many times I would stand aghast at my child's door and holler and fuss - "Get this mess cleaned up!"  Which we all know, never really works.  If I felt overwhelmed by their stuff,  how do you think my child felt?
So I would try giving them one task at a time.  "Clean under your bed and throw all the papers out." But even that task was too much.
Finally, I realized If I wanted my kids to de-clutter their rooms I was going to need to get into the mix.  So we came up with a strategy.  It was a strategy I had heard of somewhere in my Mom journey, but one I had yet to implement.
The Rule of 3
Take 3 bins/boxes and write the following words on them: 
Trash -  Donate - Keep
1. Trash - Obvious trash and anything that was broken and beyond repair went in this box.
2. Donate - Items that were outgrown, including clothes, toys and books went into this box.
3. Keep - Items that were still being used or sentimental went into this box.
Giving my kids a solid visual (the boxes) of how we were going to de-clutter their room really helped them get on board with the project.  There were still tough decisions to make (like all the paper under the bed) but by allowing them to make the decision helped them to embrace it fully.
Sometimes you might have to come up with a unique solution, if it doesn't quite fit in The Rule of 3.  For example: all the school papers were important to my daughter - so I purchased a large accordion file and told her that whatever fit into the file she could keep.  Obviously, all the paper was not going to fit, but then she could set her mind to really picking out the best of her work and getting rid of the rest.
The point is: empower your kids to the change you want to see. By giving some guidance and direction it becomes a win-win situation for you and for them.
Have you ever encountered this same struggle with your kids?  What other creative ways did you help them to de-clutter? Jump in and join the conversation.
Keeping it Simple,
Bio: Victoria is a wife to Brian and mom to four daughters. She is a writer, a homesteader and a homeschooling mom. She has a passion for simple living and inspiring others to live a simple life so they can focus on what really matters too. She resides in Virginia with her family and blogs over at Simplified Life.  

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