Enlist little hands. It’s time to reclaim your kids’ rooms.
Has it been a while since you’ve seen the floor in your little one’s room? With toys, books, clothes and countless hobbies in the mix, a kid’s room can quickly go from calm to chaos. But it is possible to have children and a clean house. Spending time on getting their space organised now will save plenty of hours wading through the mess later.
From cutting back on the toys to cleaning out their closet, here’s how to reclaim a kid’s room so you never have to step on another Lego block again.
Let little ones help
Children as young as three can lend a hand. Asking your little one to help empowers them – and makes it more likely they’ll want to keep their space clean. They know which clothes fit and feel best, which toys they still play with, and which books still capture their imaginations. Show them that cleaning and helping can be fun by giving them lots of praise as you work – and maybe even a well-earned treat at the end. Get them to drop off their donations at your local op shop so they can understand how their generosity is helping others.
Dig in and declutter
Remember the floor in this room? You’re about to be reacquainted. Have the bin and two washing baskets on hand so you can allocate each item to either trash, donate or clean. Roughly group or put back each item you’re keeping as you go, such as toys, books and clothing. Be ruthless and throw away anything that’s broken beyond repair.
Tackle the toys and books
Set aside a decent chunk of time for this part; it’s likely to take the longest. Sorting through toys and books with your child is a great way to teach them how to let go of possessions that no longer interest them or that they’ve outgrown. If broken toys can’t be repaired, throw them away or recycle them. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ method works well here: stash unused toys with a time limit – if no one has asked for them within that time, donate them.
Work on the wardrobe
Your child is growing and rapidly outgrowing their clothes. Create three piles: one for the clothes and dress-ups you’re keeping in the room, one for items you’re donating or passing on to friends, and one for out-of-season clothes to store elsewhere until you need them. Be thorough, and part with worn-out or heavily stained items. If you’re having trouble deciding which clothes to keep or donate, hold up two styles at a time and ask your child to choose the one they prefer.
Protect the keepsakes
Emotional attachment is bound to come into play – and not only for your child. You’re going to unearth many special memories during this process. Make exceptions for a small number of keepsakes, like the beanie they wore home from the hospital, that first finger painting or the knitted cardigan from Grandma. Store them in protective, sealable containers, so they’re well away from pests or accidents.
Give it a deep clean
Freshen up the room with a good once-over. As well as the usual cleaning list, remove pencil marks on the walls with a wet cloth dipped in baking soda, softly brush washable toys with warm soapy water and disinfect plastic toys with a mild soak for at least 10 minutes. Use a lint roller to remove dust from fabric surfaces like lampshades and soft toys collecting dust.
Set up their space
Now you can make the room make sense. Map out the space and designate areas depending on your child’s hobbies. You could create a reading nook, an arts and crafts area or a dress-up corner with their favourite outfits hanging neatly on a clothing rack. Keep items off the ground with floating shelves, coat hooks and storage baskets. Make sure each part of the new system is age-appropriate – your child needs to be able to reach each item in order to be able to put it away again. A book box, for example, will work better for toddlers than a bookshelf.
Keep up the good work
Well done, you’ve done the hard work. Now go one step further and create some habits to ensure the space stays tidy. Make it a ritual to sort through the room and donate unused items before Christmas and your child’s birthday, when they’ll likely be receiving a fresh bounty of belongings. Put their own bin in the room and set up a weekly jobs list so they can proudly help to keep their surroundings clean. Bear in mind that every child’s motivations are different. Some may need reminders, while others may be more encouraged by a reward system.