The older I get, the more averse I am to clutter. Clutter can be extremely distracting and stress-inducing for lots of people, but I believe HSPs are less able to just ignore it. We are constantly scanning our environment to determine what is relevant or not. When I see a counter top with tons of papers, pens, knicknacks, and mail, I have fantasies of sweeping it ALL into a hefty bag with my arm. That would be so satisfying.
I tackled my clutter problem two years ago after reading The Joy of Less. (I know everyone is obsessed with the Konmari method, but The Joy of Less literally changed my life.) I basically went room by room, one room per day. I purged about 50% of my posessions, and continue to have a charity pick up a few boxes every month. It feels wonderful to have empty surfaces, tidy rooms, and to know exactly what I own and where it is. It’s truly helped my home feel more like a sanctuary from the crazy world, instead of crazy town. Since decluttering, I’m also more likely to invite people over for meals or to just hang out since I know I won’t have to do a crazy cleaning spree beforehand.
Many assume kids’ clutter- toys, baby supplies and gear- is inevitable. But if you walked into my home, besides the booster seat at the table, some baby pictures on the wall, and two small baskets of toys in the corner of the living room, you might not even guess we have two kids. I was inspired by the book Bringing Up Bebe which said French homes are not overwhelmed with kids’ clutter. Rather, the children keep it all in their rooms. That’s their little world. Then when they get tucked into bed at the end of the day, the evening and the home belongs to the parents. It’s time to sip wine, talk and romance. Don’t you just love that picture?
Parenting can be so messy, unpredictable, and chaotic, but my house doesn’t need to be. That’s not an option for me and my well-being. Clutter is just too burdensome for me and my HSC (Highly Sensitive Child). We need blank space and room to breathe and to think.
Here’s how I keep kids’ clutter under control.
(I highly recommend reading The Joy of Less if you need a swift kick in the booty to get all your clutter under control. You will be changed forever… )
- Purge 1/2 of their toys. Then purge some more. Your kids should probably not be a part of this process. They aren’t good judges of what they really need and use. You are. Toss anything broken, neglected, super annoying to clean up. I know, this seems tough. But I guarantee your kids will play longer and more creatively with less. It’s ironic.
- Choose a few baskets or toy boxes to keep toys contained. The picture above shows Sisi’s toy boxes and bookshelves. We also have a cute little art cart (Ikea’s raskog cart) for art supplies. When toys start to spill over, we know to purge some more.
- Same with books. Purge down to the nitty gritty favorites. Below you’ll see a picture of our wall bookshelves (which are actually spice racks painted white.) They fit just a handful of books each, which forces us to keep our collection succinct. We assume we need a huge library for our kids, but we don’t. Don’t your kids like to read the same books over and over anyway? We hit up the public library every few weeks if we’re craving novelty. Or we tell stories verbally, the good old fashioned way. (I’m a sucky storyteller but Sisi eats it up!)
- Baby Stuff: Only save what is in great condition and actually useful for future children. Ditch anything soiled, worn, not really useful. If by chance you give away something that you end up needing later, it’s really not that hard to find it again for cheap/free. Matteo is 8 months now, and I’ve already given away, sold or donated much of his baby stuff. I am pretty vigilant about only keeping what is useful right now. We don’t plan to have any more kids, so I’m happy to say goodbye to this stuff.
- You probably don’t need that much “baby gear” either. We follow R.I.E. parenting principes, so we try not to rely on swings, jumpers, and fancy electronic toys to keep our kids entertained. Instead, we put our babies on the floor or the crib to explore with a few simple toys. We do have one simple and attractive bouncer, the baby bjorn babysitter, which is more like a baby lounge chair for moments when I need to keep baby contained. Basically, keep the gear you actually use regularly, but know that most of it isn’t essential (even if the catalogs tell you they are!)
- Kids’ Creations: We keep 1 or 2 pieces of artwork on the fridge to admire at a time before we recycle them, but we don’t usually keep it forever. Maybe I will regret this someday, but in my mind, it’s more about the process of creating (I often snap pics of her as she’s working) than the tangible product. If you’re more sentimental than I, you can always photograph of the creations and condense them into a photo album to treasure always. Keeping stacks and stacks of artwork is just not conducive to a tidy home.
Does kid clutter drive you nuts, too? Please share your kid clutter solutions!