Rules Of Decluttering: How to Clean Without Cleaning

There is something so calming about to a decluttered home. From freshly-laundered sheets to a well-organized living room, a clutter-free home can bring anyone tranquility. According to Psychology Today, decluttering can even boost your self-confidence to reduce anxiety. All the more reason to get organized. 

If you have kids at home, though, an organized home may feel more like a pipe dream than an achievable goal. Between the baby gear and the never-ending toys, every day can start to feel like a battle to keep the clutter at bay.

The good news is commanding control of the clutter doesn’t have to be a losing battle. With a little bit of planning, you can conquer the clutter with kids at home!

Start with the Toy Room

Dirty toy room

Before decluttering the toy room

Clean Toy room

After decluttering the toy room

Because the toy room will likely take the longest to clean and organize, start there. Clean the toy room when the kids are at school or if your kids are obedient angels (aren’t they all?) you can try to involve them in the purging process. Decide what will work for your family and follow these simple steps to declutter and organize.

Rules for Purging the Playroom

  1. Broken toys must go. Because, let’s be honest, were you actually ever going to fix it?
  2. Toys that are missing pieces should also be purged. Unless the toy is still usable and your kids are still using it, get rid of it.
  3. Organize toys by type: dolls and action figures, blocks and building toys, dress up items and so on.
  4. Avoid toy boxes. They simply invite chaos and clutter because anything can be tossed inside. Instead, designate a bin or crate for each type of toy and organize that way.
  5. Purge the bookshelf. Get rid of books that have missing pages or are filled with marker or crayon marks.
  6. Make a pile of toys your kids have simply outgrown or no longer play with. You could be sitting on cash! Sell them on GoodBuy Gear so they can be loved by another child.

Your end goal for the playroom should be to have only large toys visible. Everything else should be stored in labeled containers and be tucked away in an organized shelf, bench, closet or other storage receptacle.

Move to the Nursery and the Kids’ Rooms

Cleaning out the nursery and kids’ rooms as they grow can be bittersweet. While it is fine to hang onto special outfits and memorable gifts, be mindful that you only keep things that are truly special. And if you ask a child, every single stuffed animal they have ever received is the absolute most special one, bar none!

Rules for Purging the Kids’ Rooms

  1. Free up space in your home by purging bulky baby gear you aren’t actively using. Sell it with GoodBuy Gear and then use the cash to put towards new gear for their next stage (or a present for yourself). Baby gear changes and evolves constantly, and the stroller you bought in 2018 may not be as optimal as the strollers available in 2022 and beyond. Plus, if you buy pre-loved from GoodBuy Gear, you can get a new-to-you stroller at a low price, so out with the old!
  2. Clothes that are too small should be packed away for younger siblings or bagged for resale or donation. Make sure, if you are packing them away for younger siblings, to wash them first. Stains, even if they can’t be seen now, will yellow with age.
  3. Clothes and shoes that are dirty and stained can be donated- stores such as Goodwill sell them as scraps for rags and what not. Even if you have one single shoe because the other ended up who knows where, they want that, too.
  4. Sort toys and trinkets into piles and place them in labeled bins like you did for the playroom.
  5. Have a stuffed animal rule, as it is easy for kids to accrue quite a collection of fluffy friends. Maybe you allow three per type- so, three unicorns, three dogs, three dolphins- or just a maximum allotment. Say, 15 total. If your child is having a hard time with this, bag the extra stuffed animals and label them, then place the bag in the attic. If your child doesn’t ask about any of the animals inside for six months, donate the bag.

Your end goal for your child’s room should be a neat and tidy appearance. The bed should be made, clothes put away, bookshelf and desk organized, toys arranged neatly. Make sure you can close the closet doors, too, for the ultimate tidy appearance.

Cleaning the Common Areas

baby in cluttered space

The most difficult spot in your house to keep clean probably won’t be the playroom or the kids’ rooms. It will be your “drop spot”—the area of your home where you congregate before you leave and again when you return. This might be the spot near your front door or an area near the garage. It might even be your kitchen. But it is the spot where kids will kick off their shoes and drop their jackets, leave their backpacks and nap mats and set down sippy cups and anything else they are holding in their hands as they pass through.

Rules for Purging the Drop Spot

  1. Designate one bin or area in your drop spot per child. This is where you child can leave their jacket, hat, mittens, shoes, backpack or anything else they might need to access daily when coming and going.
  2. There should be no more than one item of each type in the drop spot: one pair of shoes, one jacket, one backpack, one sippy cup. Anything else should be put away in a closet, bedroom or wherever it belongs.
  3. Keep a tray in the drop spot for important papers or mail that you can check daily. If a child needs a permission slip signed or you need to see a note from school, it should go in the bin. The bin should be filtered daily and items filed away for keeping or shredded and dumped in the recycling bin.
  4. At the end of each day, your drop spot should look tidy. Even if that means putting your kids’ bins in the laundry room when guests come or constantly carrying extra shoes to the kids’ rooms. The drop spot is the last thing you will see before you leave home and the first thing you will see when you return. When it is clean and organized, it will help you feel calm and in control.

When All Else Fails, Embrace the Crazy

There will be days that decluttering the home will feel impossible. And that’s okay! There will be other days, weeks, months and years to get truly organized. Try to remember, no one’s house on Instagram actually looks like that all the time. Homes are staged, images are photoshopped. Kids and chaos go together like peanut and jelly- clutter is simply par for the course.

This season of life is fleeting. The kids won’t be little forever and the Peppa Pig toys and Legos you step on constantly will eventually find another home. For now, try to embrace the stage you are in, chaos and all. A clean home is absolutely overrated. But happy kids? They are truly the best!

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