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A Declutter Exercise for Kids & Adults

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

The other day at a networking event someone asked me how to declutter their kids stuff. So I'm going to tell you what I told him. And honestly, if you don't have kids, you can try this as a way to declutter too.

image of boxes with text a declutter exercise for kids and adults

First of all, some ground rules:

  • Don't declutter your kids stuff on your own (okay unless they are a toddler - I'll explain below)

  • Don't ask your kid to declutter their stuff if you are not decluttering your own stuff

  • Let your kids figure out what they want and what they don't want

  • You know your kid better then me so adapt as necessary

  • If you have more than one kid, either make it a family thing or just focus on one kid at a time

Set up 3 boxes: one labeled Keep (or Yes), one labeled Maybe, and one labeled Donate (or No). Pick one (or have your kid pick one) subject to declutter: books, games, outdoor toys, indoor toys etc. Have your kid sort through their stuff into the three boxes.

Now, if you notice they keep putting everything in the "Yes/Keep" box, maybe set a limit. For instance - for every "Yes" you also have to have a "No" or for every 2 "Yes" items they have to pick a "No".

If you notice they keep putting everything in "Maybe" because they can't figure out what they want, you can have them go through the whole pile of stuff - and then the next day have them go through the maybe box to see if there are a few they are willing to part with. Again, you know your kid so you can walk them through the ones they aren't sure of.

If the whole thing is too overwhelming (or they are really little/a toddler) then instead you can pick a number of toys you want out at any given time and have them pick that and put it in the "Yes" box. Everything else can go into a box labeled "Later". And if your kid really doesn't play with it, you could put it in a "No/Donate" box. This also depends on what stage of toddlerhood they are in and how resistant they are to any of this. I hate to say it but if you are full on in a "no" stage, you might just have to wait it out before you can declutter with them.

So, how does this work for adults? I did this with a client who had a lot of books and had a hard time figuring out what she wanted to keep. If this is you, create the same three boxes and just do a shelf or two at a time so you don't get overwhelmed.

If you try this, I'd love to hear how it goes!

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