Decluttering with Kids
When consignors bring things into our store they frequently talk about the volume of stuff their kids have, and the impact this has on their household.
Clutter can be overwhelming. It brings stress to the home. However, there is a noticeable trend right now of people going through their kids closets, and keeping only what they love.
So we've decided to take a look at what may be causing this trend, as well as some of the challenges of managing children’s items. We hope you will find this article helpful in your quest for a more organized home!
Marie Kondo is making us tidy!
Perhaps the most trending show on Netflix right now is Tidying Up, in which the quintessentially neat and uber-organized guru of de-cluttering, Marie Kondo, brings Zen-like serenity to homes across North America.
Several of our consignors have acknowledged her influence on them in their quest for a tidier home, and feel her approach seems to be helping them.
She's even had a noticable impact on our store and homelife...with Korina folding everything she can so it stands up on it's end!
Could the KonMari Method™ help you too?
We feel her method is very useful and is worth exploring if you’re trying to turn chaos into calm. There are countless guides you can opt to explore the KonMari Method™ online, as well as her bestselling book, so we'll only provide a very cursory overview here.
Her method has many aspects to it, but here are a few we find most interesting:
Rather than seeking what items should be disposed of, her approach focuses instead on keeping only the items that ‘spark joy’.
By dealing methodically with only one category at a time: clothing; books; paper; ‘komono’ (Marie’s term for miscellaneous) and lastly sentimental items, this makes the tidying process manageable. Not getting side-tracked and moving through these in order is difficult but a key part of her process.
Keeping sentimental items aside and dealing with these last is important.
Children can be encouraged to tidy up by getting them involved, following your lead, and making the process fun for them. (We'll give you some ideas on how to make it fun shortly....)
While less is more, not enough can also bring stress.
While the process of cutting back and decluttering is useful, not having enough items in a child’s wardrobe can be equally stressful. For example if you have too few shirts you’ll be washing constantly. Far from simplifying the process, having too few clothes can making dressing children with things that work together a near impossible task. The answer is in finding the correct balance, and in ensuring everything in their closet ‘brings joy’.
So it’s not surprising then, that after purging back what they no longer need, it seems customers are also using this newfound clarity to re-stock their child’s closet with more carefully chosen items. They now seek out things they know their children will enjoy (and perhaps even wear!).
Of course the more quality consignment we get, the better the choice for you as customer, so it’s a win-win.
Whose joy is most important?
Children’s closets (not unlike our own) can seem full, but what proportion actually 'brings joy'? There is a bigger and more challenging question here also. Whose joy is most important…yours as the parent, or the child’s? We feel the long term joy of the whole family matters most, but how do you get there?
According to Marie Kondo; "You and your family should only save items that spark joy. Children as young as 3 years old can decide what gives them joy, and the key principle is that each person should be making the decisions for themselves.."
While we’re hesitant to challenge the words of a guru, we tend to disagree with Marie a little on this point! It’s certainly true that a child knows what sparks joy to them in the moment (but as parents we know that this may change minutes later dependant on their mood). That said, to expect children of such an age to make these decisions, based on this emotional response, would be...well...naive at best!
There is a compromise to be met. If a child really won’t wear something, then keeping it is probably pointless; but equally the child may want to hold on to things that they still really love - even though they no longer fit, are seasonally inappropriate and look like they've been to hell and back. Here's where as parents we need to coax them into letting certain things go!
Of course it will depend on the child’s age, and giving kids some input and choice is a key part of their development, that said, most child psychologists stress the importance of not overwhelming children with too many choices, too soon. It's better to limit their options to just a few (some suggest no more than 2) and have them choose one of these.
Asking a young child to go tidy their room on their own or have them select what brings them joy is perhaps too big a task to expect them to manage alone. Just sayin' Marie...just sayin'!
How to make it fun
Sing songs - quality is less of a thing than enthusiasm. Make up your own, or you could play those time-served classic tracks... 'The Tidy Up Song' by Dave Moran or try 'The Clean Up Song" by The Singing Walrus!
Make cleaning into games to make it fun, such as role play and having them dress up while cleaning, cleaning up to music then having to freeze if the music stops, set mini challenges e.g. 'who will finish first me picking up Lego or you picking up Playmobil' etc...
Children can be incentivised with some of the proceeds of consignment, for example we let our son keep the credit he gets for his toys, but we use the credit from clothes.
Kids love jobs, these let them feel important and useful. Tell toddlers they can help Mommy or Daddy with 'this really important job'.
Avoiding the tears
When getting rid of items, it’s good to remember here that kids can have very strong emotional attachments to the simplest of things, so to keep the process fun we feel it's better they’re not driven to tears and hysteria!
One tip is to hide away things you’re thinking of purging for a few months before you get rid of them. If they’re haven’t missed them during that time they’re likely safe to get rid of.
Now it's tidy, how do you maintain the bliss?
Introduce the rule, one thing in, one thing out…
Label spaces and have a spot for everything, displaying what the kids have so it can be quickly found and more likely used, it's then easier to see what you have, and it keeps things tidy.
Put things in child-friendly boxes, especially useful if stackable.
Encourage the child to put things back where they should be
Make them responsible for their own space…but help them, otherwise it can be overwhelming and seem like a chore. Keep this fun with positive reinforcement.
Don’t leave it too long between tidying. Make it at least a weekly task, but do cleanouts every few months.
Remember if it doesn’t bring lasting joy…say thank you and goodbye to that item!
By consigning items (that may once have brought joy) this does 3 things:
It gets these out of your house while ensuring it goes to someone who specifically chooses that item - because it brings joy to them;
When items sell, this generates credit, which can be used by you to purchase items specifically chosen to your taste.
Consignment credits can be used as an incentive and reward for children to proactively clear out items they no longer love.
The result is a better performing closet, bookshelf or toy-box that contains only the things that bring you, and your child, blissful joy!