Although purging toys and clothes with kids takes a lot longer, you will be teaching them decluttering and organizational skills that will last a lifetime. Involving kids and modeling these behaviors encourages them to take ownership of their possessions and learn to take care of them. Here are some tips when you’re decluttering with kids.
Give them the talk
Kids need to learn that we cannot keep everything forever. Talk to them about how they’re growing and will be getting new fun stuff every year. Discuss what you will do with their toys and clothes that will be given away. Explain to them how other children may not have many toys or clothes as them. Emphasize the act of helping others and what a great friend they are being through sharing. Involve them in taking their items to a thrift store or even giving them to a friend or family member who would love it. Make sure to check in with them first before dumping a bunch of stuff on them!
Take it slow
The attention span of kids is about one minute for each year of age. For example, 6 year olds can pay attention to something for about 6 minutes. Keep this in mind when trying to purge with your kids. Take it one category or section at a time. Hold up the item in front of them and ask them if they want to keep it or give it away. Maybe even phrase it, “do you want to play with this? Or do you like playing with this toy?”
Allow them to make the decisions (even if you don’t agree)
I’ve actually worked directly with children as young as 5 purging toys. I usually have to kick the parent out because they try to influence what the child keeps. While mom and dad always have the final say, it’s good to know what they actually want to keep, even if you don’t agree. Just because a toy is new or was expensive isn’t justification for taking up space. Plan more carefully for birthdays and holidays to make sure you know exactly what your child wants (even though I know they constantly change their minds).
Make it a regular event
Just like any other learned skill, letting go of things gets easier the more you do it. Setting up times of the year where items are gone through and donated will help get your kids onboard. It will become a part of their lives and it won’t be such a big ordeal if it’s done more often. It will also take less time if you purge regularly. Great times to purge are around your child’s birthday, summertime, and before the holidays.
Pack it, store it, then donate it
If your little one is having a really hard time letting go, try packing up some of their toys. You know what they regularly play with and what they don’t. Pack up the toys they’ve outgrown or rarely play with and put them in storage. Date the box and if the child hasn’t asked for anything from the box by that date, donate all of its contents. They will most likely forget what’s in the box which means they didn’t really need it or want it in the first place.
Create a memory bin
Sometimes there are toys or clothing items that hold a significant memory and we want to keep them for sentimental reasons. We always create a memory bin for these items to be stored. There’s no reason for clothing or toys to take up valuable space when they won’t be used. Purchase a bin with a lid to store these items and find a home for it. We usually store them at the top of our little client's closets so that they can be added to as your child grows.