4 tips for decluttering children’s rooms

The easiest way to help keep kids rooms clean is to find ways to cut down on the clutter that makes it so hard to put everything away.

Getting kids to keep their rooms clean can be challenging and a hassle. Decluttering a room is a great way to help keep kids' rooms clean, or at least easier to put everything away.

Start by developing a system that works best for your family for keeping things in their proper place. Try one or all of these organization tips to keep the clutter down in a kid's room:

  1. Take out the trash
    The first step should be to eliminate anything you don't need to find space for. Grab a trash bag and work your way around the room to throw away any obvious garbage that may have been left there. This is another great reason for parents and children to do this task together. Children often assign value to things that wouldn't be obvious to adults and could be hurt that a parent threw out some "trash" that was actually something worth keeping for the child. Use this chore to teach your kids about responsible ownership, taking care of their things and knowing what sort of things should be thrown away.
  2. "Make purging the rooms a part of your regular seasonal maintenance."

    Sort it out
    Before you start putting anything away, sort everything in the room into four practical piles: keep, store, donate or toss. Put anything that your kids use regularly in the "keep" pile to find a space for it the room. Use the "store" pile for things that are important enough to keep, but aren't used frequently enough to warrant taking up space in the room itself. The "donate" pile it for anything that is still in good condition but simply won't be used anymore. This is a great exercise in teaching your children about sharing and charity. Ask them to honestly consider what toys they no longer play with that could greatly benefit another child. The "toss" pile is for any garbage you need to throw out that wasn't obvious at first pass.

  3. Create space
    The problem with many kids' rooms is that they tend to not have as much space as a master bedroom does, despite the fact that kids often have a lot of things they like to keep nearby. Find ways to create space in a room that doesn't have enough storage. Stack items vertically with bookcases and shelves to save floor space. Categorize toys into labeled bins, keeping one for dolls, one for trucks, one for board games, and so on, so that things that don't need to be displayed can be kept together, preventing lost parts. Hang canopies to store light objects like stuffed animals to keep the bed free. Work together to determine the best spot for each of their things. Emphasize that when they are done using something, it needs to go back in its spot to keep the room from getting messy. Remind them that simply putting things away when they aren't being used will save them from having to do massive, day-long cleaning events to put everything back at once.
  4. Take inventory seasonally
    To keep the clutter from building up, make purging the rooms a part of your regular seasonal maintenance. When the weather warms up and you're pulling the shorts and swimsuits from their winter-time storage bins, go through and ask your kids what they still like and see what still fits. Anything that can't be used anymore can be donated. Repeat each season. Around this time, also check in on what toys are still being used. Ask your children when the last time they played with a rarely-seen toy was. If it's been more than a few months, ask if they'd like to give it to someone else. Holidays and birthdays are another good time for checking in on toys, too, as children are often more willing to part with old items when they have new gifts around.

Don't forget! – when working with your kids to tidy up their rooms, try and stay energetic and enthusiastic. Children often look to adults to try and read a situation, and if you don't treat organizing like a dreadful chore, it will help improve their outlook on it. This will make it easier to encourage them to clean up in the future when things start to get messy again. It's also an opportunity to chat together or make games while you work to keep it more engaging for all of you.