If your kid’s bedroom is full of strewn clothes and toys, the mess can impact both your and their wellbeing.

“With so many people spending a lot more time at home with COVID-19 restrictions, families are finding it more obvious than ever that clutter in all parts of the house causes stress and increases anxiety,” says Lauren White, a professional home organizer and founder of Intentional Edit.

To reduce tension, a solid clean up and organizing session can do wonders. You’ll be able to clear clutter, create more open space, and make it easy to store toys in their proper places. Follow these steps to declutter a child’s bedroom and keep it looking sharp for the months to come.

Do an Initial Decluttering

“A ruthless purge is the first place to start in the decluttering process,” White says. If your child is young, such as two or three years old, it may work well to do this step when you are alone. Older children, such as eight- or nine-year-olds, can help sort and make decisions.

If the piles seem overwhelming, carry out short decluttering sessions to break up the process. Set a timer for 15 minutes and pull out clothes, toys, books, and stuffed animals your child no longer uses. Make it a game, and challenge your child to see how much of the room you can both get done within the set time frame. When the timer goes off, take a quick break and then declutter for another 15 minutes.

Keep a trash bag in the room so you can throw out broken items as you come across them. Gather clothes that no longer fit to store them for another child or donate to a local charity. Seasonal attire and toys that your child only occasionally plays with can be placed in storage containers.

If your child is struggling to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, take a Marie Kondo approach. Ask if they enjoy playing with a specific toy and if it makes them happy. Explain that if they no longer have a need for it, another child  would be grateful to have the toy.

“This is an essential trait for children to learn while growing up,” says Dave Pedley, father of two and founder of Your Cub

Evaluate the Space

After getting rid of extra items, walk around the room and consider what your child uses it for. Is it essentially a place to sleep? Is it a playroom? Does your kid need a desk to carry out homework? Also think about your child’s age and needs. For instance, is the current bed big enough? Are clothes kept in a closet where little ones can easily reach them?

Then take into account the organizing solutions currently in place. Are there cubbies for toys? Does the room have shelves where books can be stored? Is it necessary to have a tv and video games in the room or can they be moved to a different part of the home?

Focus on Organizing Long-term

“It is imperative to create systems that will keep items organized,” White says.

For instance, rather than having Lego pieces and instruction manuals scattered throughout the room, find a bin that can hold all of your child’s Legos. Then keep instruction manuals together in a crate or box next to the bin. Besides Legos, baskets and bins work well to hold other collections like cars, dolls, and figurines.

To make it easy to clean up, add labels to the storage bins so everyone in the house can identify where to store items. For small children who cannot read yet, look for free printable images to use as labels. Older children can help decide what names to use as labels, and even create the labels and put them on bins.

For small bedrooms, maximize the space with smart storage solutions. Use pull-out drawers underneath beds to store costumes your child only occasionally uses. Hang over-the-closet organizers for shoes or small items like craft supplies. Storage benches can be used to store toys and also provide a sitting area.

Set up Stations

Look on social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest for ideas on how to encourage play and order in a kid’s room. Put large items in a storage unit or garage to get them out of the way.

If your child needs a desk for studying, place all school items on the desk or right next to it. Place pencils, erasers, and a pad of paper on top of the desk. Keep art supplies in a basket or bin on the desk.

Consider setting aside an area within the bedroom where your child can read. Stations make it easy to do fast pick-ups. Kids can quickly sort items into their main areas and then put them away in their individual spots.

Keep a Minimalist Mindset

Once you’ve found homes for everything in your child’s room, check if more decluttering should be done. For small children, consider removing some toys and stuffed animals from the room for several months. Store them in a bin in the garage or home closet. Then rotate in the stored toys and stuffed animals, and the out another bin full of different items. This way your child will feel like they have new toys to play with every few months.

“Parents are often shocked to find out that children actually play more when they have fewer toys,” White says.

Clean up sessions will go faster and children will have more space for imaginative play.

Schedule the Next Session

“Once the first decluttering process is a success, make it a regular thing,” says Pedley. “It becomes easier.”

Go through clothing every six months to keep up with your kid’s growth. If your child gets new toys, evaluate their current stash to see if some are still in good condition. Then sell what they no longer use to make room for the new additions.

And of course, making it your child’s responsibility to keep their room clean and tidy on a normal basis will reduce the need for heavy decluttering in the future!

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Rachel Hartman