The countdown is on till school holidays - fancy some decluttering with the kids?
Last week we published Part 1 of our Decluttering With Kids series. We talked about agreeing the rules of engagement and as parents, lowering our expectations of what our kids can achieve. If you missed that post, you can catch up here.
One thing that I can assure you, after several years of working with kids on their decluttering projects, is that most kids enjoy the feeling of an uncluttered space in which to play and relax. Enjoying that feeling, and maintaining their focus long enough to achieve that space on their own, are two very different things. There are things we can do as parents to help set them up for decluttering success, and that is what this post will be dedicated to.
Part 2: Setting your kids up for decluttering success
The main thing to remember is that you want your child to succeed in this activity, so setting them up from the get-go is in your best interest as well. Here's the secret: your #1 priority is to keep your kid in the room and happily engaged in their decluttering. These are my top tips for you to try in your own home:
Give them a timeframe
No one wants to feel like they're spending their whole life decluttering, and it's especially important for kids to know exactly how long they have to work on this project. Depending on how old your child is, I would recommend between 30 – 60 minutes per session. Less than 30 minutes isn’t long enough to start AND finish, but longer than 60 minutes becomes hard for many kids to stay focused.
Do it in the morning, as soon after breakfast as possible. Decluttering in the morning is best, as generally that is when we feel most energised. Also, we haven’t had hours to convince ourselves of all the reasons NOT to work on our projects!
Supply the troops
Fill a water bottle and put it in the area they’re decluttering. Add a small snack plate if they’re a grazer and likely to feel peckish. Imagine that every time they come out for a drink or snack, that's a minimum of 5 minutes of the precious time allocated for the project (time taken to fetch a drink/snack + time to refocus once they're back in the room).
But wait, there are more distractions
Make sure they’ve used the bathroom, teeth are brushed, they’re dressed, and so on. When things feel a bit hard while they’re decluttering or they get stuck, procrastination will kick in and they’ll (subconsciously!) be looking for ways to wind down the clock.
More about time
Speaking of the clock, set a countdown timer that they can see while they work, so they know how they are doing. Set a visual timer so they can see how long they have to go (an hour-glass or digital kitchen timer is great). Alternatively let them know you'll be checking in at 10-15 minute intervals to update them with how much longer they have to go.
Teach them to clean as they go
Set them up with a bag for rubbish and a box (maybe a Clutter Box?) for donations. As they're decluttering, sort straight into the rubbish bag or donation boxes. Anything they want to keep should be put away straight away. This will save additional time cleaning up at the end.
Check in, minus the nagging
Finally, do your best to check in on them without nagging. A quick “how are you getting on” will give you all the answers you need. “Good” means leave them to it, but if you get any other response I recommend intervening sooner rather than later. Refocus them on the agreed goal, ask if they’d like your help, and do what you can to right the ship. If they're struggling, and have a reasonable chunk of time remaining, best to call it a day and reschedule the remaining time for another session. As discussed in Part 1, we are trying to build that decluttering muscle - creating a positive association is a great way to support that.
That's it for Part 2. In the final post in this series, we'll be looking at a practical guide for kids to follow, and possibly the MOST important part of this school holiday decluttering caper.
The whole bog series is now live and you can read them here: