My brother and I didn’t have a lot of toys growing up, but we certainly knew other children who did. I remember going to their houses and wondering why they weren’t as enthused about their wonderful toy collection as we were. Funnily enough, after becoming a preschool teacher I noticed that classrooms which had tons of different toys and activity options were more chaotic than classrooms which had a small selection of rotating activities.
The reason for this is quite simple. When a child has too many toy options, they’ll be less likely to have genuine interactions with each toy or activity. This is because they know that as soon as they get bored, they can move on. When a child has fewer options, they’ll be forced to use their creativity to come up with other ways to manipulate or play with that toy. This creates opportunities to use their imagination and allows them to concentrate on what they’re doing.
What does any of this have to do with decluttering? Well, now that you know the reason why it is important to narrow down your toy collection, I will explain why your child should help you in that process.
Helping Children Choose
Most parents already know which toys their child no longer plays with or has grown out of. It would be easier to do all the decluttering yourself, but it’s actually very important for young children to have some control over their environment. Being able to make some of their own decisions gives children a sense of pride and accomplishment which are the building blocks to independence.
Plan of Action
So here is a four-step process for decluttering with young children:
- EXPLAIN – Have a talk with your child and tell them what you’re doing and why. By explaining that the toy will be passed on to family members, friends or even children that they don’t know, it will help them to relax about the fate of their old toys.
- SET A GOAL – Either set your own goal or come up with one with your child. Either way, you should tell them what the goal is and have some sort of visual representation. For example, filling up a whole box or getting rid of five teddies and ticking a box for each one. Having a sense of progress will encourage your child to persevere.
- LET THEM GO FIRST – Allow your child to head the project. You can get involved if they get stuck. Children tend to push back if they feel like they’re being forced to do something, so giving them some control will make the process run smoother.
- INVOLVE THEM IN THE GIVE-AWAY – Follow through with step one. Bring your child with you to the charity shop or to the home of the younger child. Show them first-hand the difference they have made to that person’s life.
Share Your Story
Involving your child in the process of decluttering their toys is a great learning experience. It teaches them to be mindful of their environment and is a great stepping stone for keeping their personal space tidy.
Why not give it a try for Clear Your Clutter Day? Post your results on social media @clearyourcluttercampaign so we can see your lovely team work!
And if you think you could use a helping hand there are professional organisers like me across the whole of the UK. Find an organiser near you in this useful directory on the APDO website.