Children and Clutter
While it has been a long time since I have had children living in my home, I remember some of the “stuff” that started pouring into our home before the first little guy even arrived. I look around at friends and clients with children and grandchildren and see how the “stuff” can take over parts of the home.
Each new child in a household increases family possessions by 30% and that’s just in their preschool age. How can that happen? Extra furniture, clothes, linens, toys, and bottles are just the beginning. Before the baby actually arrives, these new belongings are usually stored in the “baby’s” room and perhaps some of the kitchen. But then they explode onto counter tops, floors, and tables throughout the house.
The United States has 3.1% of the world’s children but we own 40% of all the toys bought worldwide. All of these items come into the home by way of our own purchases, baby gifts, and continual grandparent gifts, and then they tend to stay.
So what is the answer to all of this incoming clutter?
Every season look over clothing. Are you planning on having more children? If so, take the outgrown clothes and really look at them. Are they torn or stained? Did you really like them? Discard all that you would not use again and then store in labeled tubs those clothes that you are keeping. If this is your last planned child, donate or give to friends the clothes that are still in good shape.
Every 6 months look over toys and books. If your child has outgrown them, either pack them away or store them for the next child or donate.
Encourage grandparents to give gifts that give a memory (think trips or events) instead of physical items.
Be selective in what you buy. Buy a few quality items instead of an abundance of the latest fads. Teach your children to take care of their toys and each holiday or birthday encourage your children to donate some of their gently used toys to others and discard unwanted toys that are broken.
As children get older, have them be an active part of the purging process. Each season have them choose the items that they really love and/or feel they need, and then donate the rest. Teach them that each and everything they own must have a place to be put away.
While there is no way not to increase clutter with children, there are ways to control it.
Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer