We’ve been in the midst of a major purge of our apartment, trying to get ourselves in shape to move out in time for our renovation this summer. It is not an easy task, but ohmygod it feels so good once you get going. Obviously, the bigger challenge is going to be keeping the place organized once we move back in. What’s the biggest obstacle to this challenge? You guessed it. Our two kids.
Rachel Rosenthal, our resident organizer, says that a great time to teach your kids how to purge and organize their space is at the end of the school year. And so, my fellow average parents — it’s May 29th! Time to get moving. Here is Rachel’s best advice on how to make it happen!
As moms, we know that that the organizing systems we put in place for our kids will never be perfect. Not only are kids less interested in keeping up with our system, their needs and interests are constantly growing and evolving. Not to mention their clothing.
I have been in countless children’s closets where my clients are amazed (and embarrassed) at the items that they pull out. There are the clothes that are multiple sizes too small (I am talking newborn size and the child is 14) or too big or even damaged. There are shoes with missing mates and backpacks full of last year’s schoolwork.
You might rack your brain to figure out how all of the stuff got here in the first place. How did you start with a simple clothing rod and so quickly get to total disarray? My answer for that is: life happens. Children acquire a lot of everything (clothes, shoes, books, art, hobbies, toys, etc.) and there is no way to keep it all in check without a solid organizing system in place. There is no magic decluttering wand (oh, I wish there was), but I promise you, it’s possible to purge and organize your kid’s room.
I do feel the need to clarify that there is a difference between being neat and being organized. Your child’s room can be organized, but it won’t always be neat.
The end of the school year is an ideal time to put a system in place that will be successful for you and your family, before the summer rush hits with priorities, even more activities, and travel. And I promise, while the first time decluttering (especially with your child there) might seem daunting, the next time will show your child that this process is a way of life instead of a one-time event. Ready to get started?
7 tips for decluttering your kids room at the end of the school year
1) Empty the backpacks…immediately!
When your kids bring home their backpacks at the end of the school year, it’s important to empty out the contents. You’ll be surprised how many small things may have collected at the bottom! This way, their bag will be empty to use either over the summer or to save for the next school year.
2) Involve your kids!
Yes, you might think I am crazy for suggesting this, but the more your children are involved in the process of decluttering, the more likely they will be to keep up the systems. Since you know your child best, structure the decluttering and the systems around them. Does your daughter love the color pink? Have her pick out a pink bin to hold all her stuffed animals. Create a game out of choosing which ten pieces of art to keep for the year.
3) Give clothes a once-over.
Account for any clothes that may be stored under the bed or are away in seasonal storage during your review. You’ll want to make sure you get rid of any items that are damaged or they have outgrown. Take inventory of what you are holding on to in order to make sure the closet is maximized based on your needs. Similar to adult closets, the most frequently used items should be most easily accessible. Seasonally-appropriate apparel, school uniforms, and easy-to-grab options should be categorized and within reach.
4) Review the “treasures”.
There is not always a rhyme or reason behind why kids get attached to certain rock collections or tiny scraps of paper, and those little treasures can contribute to clutter over time. Work with your kids to review each category of their collections, explaining that they are creating room to create and display their future creations. Chances are, the novelty will have worn off and your kids will be more willing to part with the clutter.
5) Incorporate a permanent donation bin.
A bin, bag, or basket in your kid’s closet will come in handy more often than you realize. Kids can outgrow clothing, shoes, and interest in toys and games almost as quickly as they come into your home. Designate a donation spot in each of your kids’ closets for outgrown clothes and in your garage or storage room for toys that your children no longer play with. When the bags and bins are full, that’s your cue to get the donation items out and clear room for the next cycle of stuff. You can even take your kids to the donation center to help them understand the impact they are making with their generosity.
6) Thin out the art collection.
We’re all guilty of holding on to too much artwork from throughout the school year. Take five minutes to quickly scan through what you’ve saved over the last couple of months and I promise you will find more than a few papers to weed out and recycle that no longer feel necessary to keep. This includes the artwork that has collected in your kid’s room! This is a great way to get kids involved in the process by letting them sort through the pile and pull out a handful of favorites to keep for the future. For any items that you’re keeping, use a protective keepsake box to store the contents and include a label on the outside of the box to indicate whose box it is (and the school year/grade, if you’d like!).
7) Figure out the room’s purpose.
Depending on the size of your kid’s room and the layout of your home, this will determine how the space should be used. Are your kids playing in their room or is there another spot in your home where toys and activities are stored? Do they do art projects in there or mainly homework? Once you know the purpose of the space, then you should have a clear picture of what does or does not belong in the room. Walk around the room and collect any items that don’t belong to free up space for what should actually be stored there.
The most important thing about decluttering at the end of the school year is creating a fresh new space for your children to begin the next year. A space where new artwork, homework and projects have room to accumulate. I suggest giving your system a once over at the end of the summer, right before school starts as well.
Rachel Rosenthal is an organizing expert and owner of the professional organizing firm, Rachel and Company. Since 2007, Rachel and her team have worked with over 2000+ busy families to create homes that are both functional and beautiful. Rooted in the belief that organization can be achieved by all, Rachel emphasizes solutions that are easy to use and enhance a home’s existing aesthetic. Check out her site and follow @rachelandcomp on Instagram!