Start the process without the child
Explain to your child that everything has a home spot
Explain to your child that everything has to have a proper home off the floor
Ask: “Where would you look for this?”
Ask: If there is no more room, ask “Which one would you rather keep nearby?”
Ask: “Is this stuffed animal for playing with or looking at?”
Ask: “Would you remember you have this if you don’t see it?”
Ask: “Would you like to give this away if another child loves to play with this?”
Ask: “Will you read this again?”
Of course, there are other approaches and questions you might want to ask your own child. You know your child better than anyone else, so go with your guts on this one...
Whatever you do, don’t try dealing with all the toys at once, in one single session. Just like you are unlikely to get to grips with decluttering your own beloved toys, your child will be no different. Try a layered approach: do cuddly toys in one session, then books in another, deal with cars and trains on yet another occasion. Start with the stuff that you feel your child has the least qualms about letting go. Usually, parents have a pretty good idea what their child likes to play with at any given time – simply because a boy banging that drum all day and neglecting his cuddly toys is very transparent in his preference, as is the girl enthralled with her wooden trainset while the colouring books have been left to rot for half a year.
It’s important to make this a fun and playful process, encourage your child to be honest about their loves and likes and dislikes, listen to them and honour their honesty within the confines of the rules set out above. Be aware that this is an ongoing process and you might hit roadblocks, reluctance and backsliding. Be prepared to repeat the process more than once. In the end, however, not only will you have made some headway in your home, you’ll also have taught your child (and yourself?) a valuable lesson about clutter and how to stay on top of it.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.