Children & Clutter - Put it back

Children & Clutter - Put it back

The unfortunate truth is that children silently pick up habits from their parents, including clutter habits.  I have dealt with various generations within one family and can vouch for this.

In this day and age, many households have chars or au pairs. I believe these services have their place in our fast paced society, especially in households where both parents work or there is a single working parent. The possible negative to this system though is that it can take away the simple valuable lessons a child can learn from assisting with chores, and picking up after themselves. They could lose out on the fundamental lesson of the consequences of not following through with a cycle or process.

Children go through many different phases with great growth spurts in short periods of time. This makes it a challenge to keep up with toys, games, homework, hobbies, books, sports, extra mural activities, broken toys, missing pieces, artworks, collections and awards. Their clothes can be an entirely different nightmare! Never mind the fact that they’re constantly growing out of them but do all these clothes ever land up getting off the floor?  Even clean clothes eventually land up on the floor when they fall off the pile on the chair and desk. Why do new things get stained so quickly and develop holes overnight? And where is the other sock, shoe and that jersey you bought a month ago? Oh, and let’s not forget that favourite blanky that should’ve been used as an outdoor rag a long, long time ago!! And above all else there is also the burning issue of your sentimentality; a few boxes perhaps that started out as a shoe box filled with their first bib, first shoes, their first drawing, and that cute chair she used to sit on…by the time they leave home you will need to  rent a few containers to store all your memories.

Children’s diets change constantly too, starting with specific foods eaten at different ages; then there comes choice! Today bananas could be the latest trend, to only be replaced by slap chips the next day, and nothing else will do! Once they start going to school and participating in activities then one could easily start feeling overwhelmed and want to call in a dietician to plan and pack balanced meals, snacks, juices, water, medication for those that have allergies, diabetes, asthma etc. With this project plan one needs to ensure that pantries, kitchen cupboards and fridges are appropriately stocked with all goods from the inventory list, and best to have extra of everything because they find feet! especially the treats! All these goods then need to be properly transported so one needs an endless supply of Tupperware, snack holders, juice bottles,  lunch boxes and bags; And again, an endless supply because these things, even large items like lunch bags have a tendency to disappear. Then added to their cargo for the day is a school bag, extra mural bag with clothes and or equipment. And with all these systems in place let’s hope we don’t find another peanut butter sandwich from a week ago wedged between two books again!

I think it is safe to say that if you’re already experiencing clutter chaos in the pre baby stage of your life, then the issue will gather great momentum from the starting block of your pregnancy stage. Organisation is a great life skill and can assist both parents and children with gentle transitions through the growth phases a family goes through. This will also equip the child with the necessary skills needed to design and manage their own life and take responsibility for their actions. When donating old toys children learn about empathy, sharing, kindness, generosity, and that every cycle has a beginning and an end.  The concepts of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle  will then become second nature to them and at the end of the day they will have developed great social skills.

Model what you want your children to do and get them involved in organising new systems. Set simple boundaries and rules. Systems need to be easy to follow, maintain and custom designed to suit your child’s natural flow for play and study. We don’t want to create robots or anxious children that become constantly worried about making a mess. It is important not to squash a child’s creativity in this process; they still require a chaos space or section as long as it is easy for them to put things away afterwards.

A few simple tips might seem like common sense to most but often we forget or don’t find the time to begin implementation. One of the simplest and greatest lessons one can teach a child is to let go of toys when they get new ones; the same can be said for clothes, and when clothes are too small they should leave the house immediately! Children love colour, use this to your advantage when setting up systems to make the tasks more fun. Coloured picture labels are always a winner and a great way to teach toddlers about association.

Smaller toy boxes and separate containers for like toys work very well and are light and easy enough to carry around, unpack and pack up again. Study areas need to have natural lighting, good ventilation and be away from the distraction of toys; and toys need their own domain. Pick it up, put it away and throw it away are the three golden rules. Once children realise that they will have more time to do the things they love if they maintain simple systems, they become a lot more cooperative!

 It is a great idea to teach children to put out their school and activity clothes the night before, along with completed homework, and packed lunch with snacks for school and extra murals. If you have the space it is great to set up an exit/entrance station at the front/back or garage door, as every family needs a designated dumping ground! Bearing in mind a dumping ground can be organised and look good.

So don’t despair, there is a Sorted Solution for children and clutter! And know that once the obstacle is out of the way you will all have more quality time together as a family to do the things you love most!


It’s always a good idea to keep systems cheerful and fun so that they can become part of the play therefore easier and more enjoyable to maintain.

By: Michelle| |
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