Little kids’ clothes are so cute that buying them is hard to resist. The same goes for stuffed animals that offer our children comfort and imaginative play. Whether they are purchased or received as gifts, they can quickly get out of control.
In this Before & After, my client needed help with her 3-year-old’s bedroom. He has over 40 t-shirts, 50 stuffed animals, and 200 books. This is very common in the households I’ve been in with young children. And parents are overwhelmed by the clutter, the amount of laundry, and the time and energy to clean up.
According to Marie Kondo, children as young as three can start to tidy. It’s important to develop these habits and learn about responsibilities as these life skills help to build confidence, and teach them to be a contributing member of the family. Our job as parents is to show them how to take care of the belongings they love and offer support and encouragement as they try to do it themselves.
During this initial session, the mom and I worked one-on-one to discard the items that she felt confident no longer sparked joy for her son. We separated the toys and books they borrowed from the neighbor and library to be returned. We also moved the ones that are no longer age appropriate to another room for his new baby brother.
Using the KonMari method, we started with the clothes category. Children grow so fast, it’s important to pull out any that are too small or worn out. In general, owning 14-16 tops, 8-10 bottoms, 3-4 coats or jackets, 3-4 pairs of shoes, will get you through two seasons (spring and summer wardrobe, fall and winter wardrobe). I do encourage you to keep all seasons of clothing in one place because you may need to travel somewhere that has very different weather, and you can mix and match to create new outfits. When the clothes start to get snug, then make new purchases, and prefereably involving your child in the choice making process. Try to resist buying larger sized items when you see a good sale. We often store those away and they get forgotten. By the time we take them out, either they are too small, or doesn’t match the interest or animated character your child is into. Unless you have multiple children and want to keep them as hand-me-downs, you really don’t need more clothes than what’s listed above for a child. Children generally like to wear their favorite clothes over and over, and the fewer clothes to choose from means they can get ready faster, and you’ll have less laundry to do. (Some people have known to delay having to put away clean clothes by tossing them back in the hamper to make them “go away”.)
So let’s take a look at this before and after. You may be surprised that the room is actually quite neat. but my client knew there were some items that her son doesn’t use and needed to be removed.
Before: Books and stuffed animals
Stacking the folded t-shirts means you can’t see what you have, and pulling one out will mess up the pile.
The closet had nice containers but they make it hard to see what’s inside. Behind the laundry basket on the floor is a shoe rack, but the shoes are never worn and are all too small now.
After: Pajamas, socks and underwear drawer
The far left is the underwear, the socks are in smaller boxes to keep them separated by sports sock and ones with graphics. The pajamas are folded and placed in sets.
We sorted the items in all the storage bins into most frequently used items and placed them on the lowest shelf, and seasonal or occasionally used items higher up. The clothes are hung from the longest to the shortest. We looped the snow gloves on the hanger with the snow plants so they are easy to find. The shoe rack behind the laundry basket was removed so the basket can be pushed all the in.
The T-shirt collection has been pared down to her son’s favorites. We folded them the KonMari way and place the side with the graphics on the outside so you can easily find the one you want. The small box contains rash guard for swimming because the fabric is slippery and the shirts can’t stand on their own.
We organized the books and lined them up by size. In children’s rooms, I like to place them from the tallest to the shortest then back to tall again because the negative space creates a smile shape. I told my clients that if her son pulls the books out himself, as long as he puts them back, it’s fine that he doesn’t put them back in the same spot. When they have the time, they reorganize them by playing a game of sorting by size or matching books from the same series.
The next step we plan to do is for me to work with her son to continue to reduce the number of stuffed animals he has. I also reminded my client to not purchase more by replacing material things with experiences for her son.
I hope you enjoyed this before and after. Let me know if you have any trouble decluttering your child’s room and if these tips have helped you.