Toby was a kindergartener with a very messy room. He was so excited after his room re-do he started labeling the bins himself the next day!
Scroll down to see an old video from 2010 of Nonnahs working in Toby’s room with his parents while he was at school one day.
First world problems
When it comes to organizing a kid’s room, I’ve noticed a seriously sad trend. Every single child we’ve organized has so many toys they don’t even know what they have!
We’ve organized beautiful, gigantic homes with really nice, playrooms. We have also worked with families who share a bathroom and there isn’t much money for toys. But a family’s financial situation doesn’t seem to affect the number of toys children have.
Toys are so cheap now! They are no longer a special purchase. When people shop for household goods, we end up bribing our kids (who didn’t want to come) with another toy.
So, how can we avoid this shopping trap?
Shop with a list
Shopping with a list helps you practice delayed gratification. If kids are with you as you shop, they get to learn first-hand what it means to be an adult. The ability to delay gratification is an adult skill. I’d argue it is one of the top three adult skills we need.
Here’s a quote from Psychology Today:
Being able to delay satisfaction isn’t the easiest skill to acquire. It involves feeling dissatisfied, which is why it seems impossible for people who haven’t learned to control their impulses. Choosing to have something now might feel good, but making the effort to have discipline and manage your impulses can result in bigger or better rewards in the future. Over time, delaying gratification will improve your self-control and ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals faster.
There is an age (usually 2-5 years old, depending on maturity and practice) where delayed gratification is so hard it may not be worth it to bring the children with you to shop. This is why God invented the internet. Parents of toddlers, get yourself an Amazon Prime subscription and go to the park with the little angels instead!
If they are with you, show them the shopping list. Before you go in the store, make the objective clear, “We are NOT BUYING TREATS or TOYS.” If they are 6+ years old, maybe give them money to spend (or save) before you go in and let them figure it out.
Think back to your own childhood. Did you get toys from your parents every time you ran errands with them? Did you get to buy every sugar cereal you pointed to? Oh, hell no! Are you kidding? I don’t remember getting toys on any occasions other than holidays and vacation trips.
Let’s stop buying our kids so many toys. Yes, they will complain. But we are the parents. We can hold our ground and we can also practice delayed gratification ourselves and stick to our list.
24 hour toys
Even if you stop buying toys for your kids, other people may not get the memo. You’ll still have party favors, cheap, toys-as-rewards from school, or toys from Happy Meals. When your tykes come home with something you KNOW is a crappy, cheap toy, throw it away as soon as they stop playing with it . These are 24 hour toys. After one day, the toys lose their appeal because they aren’t new. They quickly become clutter. So, drop the guilt and throw them away before that happens. Better yet, leave 24-hour toys in the car.
The hard truth about kid clutterYour child's room has too many toys in it. Click To Tweet
Your whole HOUSE probably has too many toys in it. Thin them out and get organized already! Get rid of all but the really favorite toys– I mean FAVORITE. When working with families on the toys in their home, we use a “hide” bag. Any toys we aren’t totally sure about, we store in a hide bag or box for a few weeks. You’ll see this in the video below.
In case you are hesitant to guess which are their favorite toys, keep some in a boring-looking box. Write a date on the box when you believe it will be alright to get rid of its contents.The most important step in organizing a kid's room is to get rid of most the toys. Click To Tweet
I know it feels cruel. But you are actually doing the entire family a favor. Clutter and decisions are both stressful.
Getting rid of your child’s toys (40 percent at least!) will help them:
- tidy their space faster
- get yelled at less often
- play outside more
- appreciate what they have
- take better care of their stuff
Age appropriate organizing a kid’s room
For children 7 years old and up, do not purge without their consent. For children 6 years old and younger, use your judgement about how much they will care. Most really young kids are so excited to see their room re-organized and toys they’d forgotten about, they don’t even notice the toys that are missing.
You can do it! You’ve got to. Because if you step on one. more. lego you may lose your mind.
Thanks for reading and letting me know if you feel better about purging toys now.
Thank you, Alli, at Your Little Movie for editing and directing this video. This is an old one, so the quality isn’t great. Hopefully it will inspire you anyway!
Also published on Medium.