Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Decluttering 101

Decluttering 101: 10 tips for taking the chaos out of the playroom!  #WallTracks  
I have 3 children.  They are all girls and they are definitely girlie-girls. They love their Barbies, American Girl dolls, and baby-dolls and all the accessories that come with them.  They also love dress-up costumes and shoes, shoes, and more shoes. Arts and Crafts are a favorite too.  My girls also really like magnetic toys that come with lots of little, teeny-tiny pieces.  Needless to say there is a lot of STUFF in our playroom.  Therefore, you can imagine that it takes a lot of planning and effort to keep that play space organized, decluttered and usable.  It is something we are always discussing and keeping up on as a family so that all those toys along with all their pieces, accessories, components...stay together, don't get lost and don't cause total chaos on our playroom floor.   
Here is a list of 10 tips that we use to keep our play space "play-able" and organized.

1.  I find that every once in awhile it is good to let the toys, dolls...get a little bit messy in the playroom.  This way, when the clean up finally begins, the kids feel a little bit of the "chaos" that comes with having to organize a space that is very messy and cluttered. This allows me to have a "teachable" moment with them where I can explain to them why we keep things organized and how, if in the future they stay-up on the decluttering process, the clean up time will be a lot quicker and easier.  Then, once they finish that long clean-up, we can look around and talk about how our organizing system works.  This final discussion solidifies the idea in their cute, little brains that organization and decluttering can be a good thing. What I find later is that the next time I have them clean up, it is a lot easier to get them all on-board with the cleaning process since they know that the quick clean-up NOW will save them from a LONG clean up later.

2.  Bins, bins, bins.  Use them for quick clean ups when guests show up unexpectedly (organize later if need be), and then also use them all the time for toys, games,costumes, whatever, as a way to help your kids find a place for everything and so that they know where things go.  Make the bins fun and colorful too in order to add a fun, kid-like feel to the playroom.

3.  "Everything has a place, and Everything in it's place". Ah, my older sister's favorite saying.  And it is a good statement to live by when it comes to organizing a playroom. Having labelled storage bins, or baskets helps make this statement come to fruition.  Labels let all your kids know what goes into where at clean up time.  

4. For non-reading children, labeling bins and baskets with words is not going to be much help since they will not be able to read what item goes in that bin.  I draw a picture of the item on the label for my youngest so that she knows where toys go without having to read any words.  I have seen people take photos of the toy that goes into a specific bin too and then they attach that photo to the bin.  I save myself time by just drawing the image but both ways are effective.  

5.  Don't let it slide.  Check the play room daily and have the kids do a "Quick-sweep", as we like to call it, every time they finish playing so that no clutter even starts to build up.  We reward them sometimes too with an ice cream or a "Family Game-Night" if they do the clean up without being asked.  (Gotta love and reward the independent cleaner!)

6.  We do the "do you play with this toy anymore?" question and answer session every  few months.  We tend to do it in our house just after a birthday or a holiday like Christmas where more toys (which equals more clutter) come into the home. We use this decluttering time as a way to get rid of what is not being used anymore n order to make room for new things.  We also use it as a way to teach the kids about giving back in their community.  We talk about how their unused toys can now get donated to a facility that will give them to other children who don't have the means to buy these toys.  The kids love the idea that their toy will make another kid happy and they love that the toy will be loved again.  This way everyone is happy about getting rid of the toys and mom and dad are especially happy that the toyroom's clutter is reduced.

7.  Get a great wall unit.  We have this Ikea unit that we place all the bins in that the kids place their toys in.  It makes the playroom look neat and organized.  Plus it creates a place for the bins to go, and it clears the playroom's floor space which allows for more playing space.  

8.  Arts and Crafts are my worst nightmare.  These kinds of toys/activities are the- messiest- of- the-messiest for sure.  These items have their own place in our house.  They are kept in a closet, high on the top shelf so that they can only be used with permission.  I learned the hard way to keep these toys "under surveillance" at all times.  Let's just say that my playroom walls will never be the same.  Some toys just need more monitoring than others so I suggest that these don't make it to the playroom without your knowledge.  

9. We use a rotating, weekly chart system too.  The chart lists what each child is in charge of keeping neat and organized for that week in the playroom.  This way, the kids know they have that task to complete all week and it lets me just do quick reminders to get them going. It is especially great to refer to when I hear the infamous "I'm bored" statement.  Now I can always point to the chart and say, "I know what you can do..." The chaos and clutter does not get out of control this way and the rotating system allows for each kid to do different jobs each week so that no, one person feels like they got the "worst job of all". 

10.  Lastly, I think it is important to talk to your kids about why we declutter and keep a room neat.  We want to be able to use the room efficiently and in a fun way.  Plus, we want our kids to be respectful of the things we work hard for.  Them taking care of the playroom space shows us as parents that they appreciate the toys they have and the home we all live in.  Our home reflects on all of us and we want to show each other that we care about the quality of the environment that we live in and that we share as a family.  

So there you have it, a listing of some of the things we do to keep our playroom in some semblance of order.  We loose control once and awhile but often friendly reminders a good, focused cleaning fixes that.  Using these tips though can make for a more enjoyable and fun-filled play space for all.

The makers of Hotwheels know how precious your floor space is and they have created a great system called Hot Wheels® Wall Tracks™ to let your kids zip their cars along the wall instead of on the floor! You can get more info on Hot Wheels® at

Disclaimer:  I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here


  1. Good post!!! Bummer it was over! I didn't even try. Are we on for tonight?

  2. My older two get an allowance. The goal is simple I must be able to sweep and vacuum downstairs on Friday. That area is their bedroom (they share with a loft bed complex that almost fills the room), play area, tv area and craft area. At first they couldn't find anything because it was stuff out of reach of the vacuum. They soon discovered they could find anything and daddy would say "well where did you put it away?" Now things are finding homes.

    For when thing get out of control as they sometimes do:

    You know you are a SAHD if you have ever used a rake to clean your kids playroom.

  3. @Christine...Thanks. It was fun to write
    @chris - I agree that sometimes they need to feel the repruccusions for not cleaning well so that they then learn to do it better in the future. Small spaces def. are harder to keep organized too. good luck with your little guys!

  4. As much as you want to keep your house in its pristine state, or at least neat for most times, it may be difficult to achieve when you’re living with children. Though I find your tips here quite practical, particularly what you said about bins and how keeping it close most times will be useful for quick cleanups. Also, I agree that choosing colorful and personalized bins will make organizing more fun for kids. Thanks for sharing this good course on the basics of de-cluttering! Cheers!

    Clarence Rios @ Bins By Jo Ltd.