Learn more ways to help your children manage their “stuff” in this excellent Guide to Handling Kids and Clutter by Tisha Morris
Are you using your children as an excuse for your cluttered home?
If so, you’re not alone.
When I go to people’s home for feng shui consultations, I often hear clients immediately apologizing for their clutter. And then they point the finger at their children (and then their spouse!). While it is true that having a child or children is cause for more things in the house, it doesn’t mean your home has to be cluttered up.
Let’s first differentiate between simply having toys lying around the house AND clutter. For children, clutter would be anything that is no longer being used or enjoyed. And as children quickly grow up and change daily, clutter can pile up quickly. For items sitting around that are not clutter, then those are ripe for organization.
One of the best things about having children is the sense of play that they exude. And so with having kids, the perfectly clean zen home is most likely a thing of the past (that is, if you had it to begin with). That being said, there are some ways to maintain a sense of peace, balance and order in the house without the accumulation of clutter.
Be the Example.
Children learn by watching their parents. If you keep your personal spaces clean, i.e. your bedroom, then they will already have a leg up. Or if you are cleaning up, show your child what you are doing even to the point of narrating the process. Those who are clutter-prone usually had clutter bug parents. It is a learned trait. Stop the cycle in your family!
Teach Your Child Organizational Skills.
Organization is learned. It does not come natural for many people, especially more right-brained folks. So, if you are not the poster child example for your child, then teach them organization. Once they are of an appropriate age, start setting boundaries. Maybe not every room in the house is appropriate for playing. Designate which areas are for play and which areas are for adults. Then create an organization system in their room and closet, i.e. shoe racks, sweater shelves, etc. Show them where their dirty clothes go, where stuffed animals go, and where board games go. Believe it or not, they want to know.
Budget in Clean-up time.
Make it a part of your child’s play time as clean-up time. For example, if they have an hour or two of play-time, dedicate the last 5 or 10 minutes to clean-up time. This will carry over into all areas of their life for the rest of their life!
Make it Fun.
Clearing clutter does not have to be painful. And with children, it’s all about how you sell it. Make it fun, upbeat, and positive. Don’t pass the negative attitude on to your child.
Explain the Bigger Picture.
Clearing clutter can be a great teaching moment for children. Have them help you pack up toys and clothes they no longer use in order to donate to those less fortunate. Children are inherently kind-hearted and will enjoy this process. This will make it easier the next time and the next time until they automatically start collecting unused items.
The bottom line is that children want to live in a clutter-free home. Studies show that they think better, socialize better, and feel better about themselves. In my article, Making a House a Home for Children, I discuss the benefits of a clutter-free home as it relates to the development of children. And with some simple teaching moments from the above list, children will quickly pick up on organizing skills which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
So the next time you start to point the finger in the household, think about more productive actions you can take. We’ll work on the spouse later!
Article/Image Source: The Kids are Allright: A Guide to Handling Kids and Clutter
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