I used to think you couldn’t be a minimalist with kids. But you can. You just need to be strict with new replacing old, not adding to it.
It’s my daughter’s eighth birthday in a week. Yes, she’ll be getting a few tiny pieces of plastic that pose as toys (Shopkins, Littlest Pet Shop etc.), but she’s already keenly made way for the new by passing on some of her old toys to charity and the trash.
The kids rooms still get cluttered, and I still think they have way too many toys. But overall we have a “one in, one out” policy that works well, plus a few other techniques listed below that keep the home neat and tidy.
Ways to keep kid clutter under control
1. Teach kids to make space for anticipated new belongings by passing on old items before the new stuff arrives. We do an old toy, stationery and clothing cull before Christmas and birthdays. The kids see this as “making space” and look forward to what might come to replace the old, outgrown items!
2. Sell old toys for a profit. Some secondhand toys do very well on the secondhand market. Lego is a great example of this. My son has made over $100 selling his outgrown lego, and does not regret it in the least!
3. Take the children with you to the charity shop, and encourage them to hand over their belongings. Some children – not all – will delight in giving away their old items, especially if the volunteers at the charity shops explain that needy children will really appreciate their generosity.
4. Encourage children to clean and dust their rooms from an early age. Point out that a more sparse room with fewer belongings would take less time to clean!
5. Encourage outdoors play, sports and online gaming instead of play with toys. Activities that don’t require clutter are a winner! As an aside, secondhand outgrown DVDs and computer games also sell well on the secondhand market, as do sporting goods 🙂
6. Encourage organisational routines. When my kids come home, straightaway they take their shoes off, take out their lunch boxes from their bags, and get their homework out. They have a quick snack, then do their homework before any play. Routines help keep a house tidy. The kids also have a morning routine (making their beds, tidying their rooms, picking up clothes etc.). Adults don’t strew their clutter all around the house – why should we educate our children to do so? Teach good habits from an early age, and it will be worth every minute of the time spent doing so.