If you have kids you know that cleaning and decluttering takes a little more finesse. You have your schedule to work around and their schedule. Are you at work all day? At home all day? Somewhere in between? With three kids at a variety of ages and stages, I know that there are quite a few factors involved in getting things done when they’re up and awake. This post is for you if you are looking for ways to get your kids involved in decluttering and/or if you think you can’t declutter because you have kids. Keep reading for my best tips and tricks sure to help you get started.


Why should you bother decluttering?

Clutter is overwhelming. Studies have been done that clutter can even lead to depression. I also find that it has a negative effect on our mood and the feelings surrounding the state of our homes. I have a minimalist but comfortable approach to decorating and find that with less stuff, there’s less to clean up and it also keeps unnecessary ‘stuff’ at a minimum. The biggest bonus for me is that it’s time-saving – we know where things are so we don’t waste time looking for that one pair of socks or kitchen tool. We know where it is and can locate it quickly.

I know it’s not easy.

I can honestly tell you that when you say you can’t declutter when kids are around, I get it. I know it’s difficult and I know that it’s hard to wrap your mind around going through stuff with little ones. There’s the emotional attachment to stuff, the sheer fact that they need your undivided attention, and you’re utterly exhausted. I get it and I know that it isn’t easy.

But it’s worth the effort.

Every minute you put into decluttering is worth it. You’ll be better for it – you’ll feel better, you’ll be ready to tackle the day and then you’ll be ready to tackle the week, and you’ll be able to find stuff more quickly.

Some factors to consider:

  • the age of your child(ren)
  • the number of children you have
  • how much decluttering needs to be done
  • your child(ren)’s attention span(s)
  • work schedule (at home, out of the home)
  • level of exhaustion

Tips for decluttering with babies:

I know that nap time is a great time for getting things done but if you have a little, little one, take care of that baby and rest when you can. Focus on smaller decluttering projects you can do when they are content in the baby swing, carrier, or bouncer. Sort through photos, declutter clothing, drawers, cabinets, etc. Tackling an entire room might be a little daunting especially if you’re interrupted mid-project.

Tips for decluttering with toddlers:

If you’re up for it, use nap time and early bed times for decluttering. If you’re upending an entire space, focused time where little hands aren’t there to get into small objects is key. If you want to tackle some decluttering while they’re up, get them occupied with something that holds their attention and work in 15 minute increments. Something I’ve done since my two big kids were 3 and 1 is to do a quick clean up before lunch/nap time and before dinner/bed. I’d set the timer for 3-5 minutes, sometimes 10 minutes, put on some dance music and we’d see how quickly we could pick up. This daily maintenance really helped us keep things clutter-free and get in the habit of putting things away when we’re done with them.

Tips for involving kids (ages 4+):

If you declutter regularly your kids most likely won’t be phased but if you have a lot of decluttering to do you probably need to do a little bit while they’re around. In my opinion, getting them involved is not only helpful for you but it’s good for them too. If you can get little ones involved they are more likely to not be getting in to stuff and dumping out that basket of blocks you just went through. Need some ideas for activities that can occupy kids for more than 5 minutes? Check out this post.

Get a clutter partner:

If you are still struggling with decluttering while kids are around, consider hiring a sitter or better yet, find someone that wants to declutter too and trade kid-time with them. You swap kids for an afternoon while you work on your clutter and then you switch.

How to help kids learn to declutter:

Involve them in decluttering their stuff too. If there are toys that they’ve outgrown or don’t play with, suggest packing them up for a younger sibling or donating to a local charity or preschool that would be interested in them. If you want to do this secretly, put the items in a bag and if they don’t ask for them for a week or two, it’s probably safe to say they won’t miss it. I don’t necessarily agree with this approach for everything but there are some items that it works with. I keep a bin in each kids’ room and they put clothes that they’ve outgrown in the bin. This is typically decided when they put on a shirt or pants and suddenly it’s too small – I tell them to put it in the pack away bin and choose a different ensemble. Once the bin is filled up it’s either given to a cousin or put in the basement for a younger sibling.

Daily Maintenance:

In my cleaning routine I have 5 daily tasks – one of these tasks is ‘clutter’. That means that every single day I am thinking about or dealing with clutter even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Getting into this routine is crucial for maintaining a clutter-free or almost clutter-free home. Cleaning off counters daily, picking up the floors, sorting the mail…all these little things add up to a whole lot of decluttering!

How about you? What’s your best decluttering with kids tip? Share with us in the comments!

Have you picked up The Clutter Handbook? It’s my ebook/guide all about dealing with clutter and taking back your home – grab it here.