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De-Cluttering & Organizing Kids’ Rooms (& Creating a Healthier Relationship with Stuff)

Well the 1st day of school for the kiddos arrived and true to form we got some of the things done on our to-do list and a few outstanding tasks still to do. Anyone else wonder why outstanding can be so good or so bad depending on how you use it?

I spent many hours in my daughter’s room in the last week or so trying to get her space organized and helping her let go of a lot of stuff. If you have read any of my posts before you will know that my family struggles with letting go of things and disorganization. I wanted her especially to start the year off fresh because the disorganization really gets on top of her and brings her down. Knowing all of this she has still be resistant to change, shocker.

Apparently there is a real hoarding gene on the Neanderthal portion of humanity and my family has it. I already knew “collecting” was a family trait but when we did 23 and Me and I saw that I burst out laughing. Confirmation at its best!

Anyway we are all working on the issue through internet therapy (so many hours of de-cluttering YouTubes while I did other chores), and some actual therapy for some household members. The kids do school online but in general they have not chosen to sit at desks for a majority of the school year. That being said my daughter had been wanting a desk with a hutch since last year and my neighbors just happened to being giving one away this summer.

She was very excited about the desk but dreading tackling the room. The space is most definitely busier than probably most people would prefer but it is organized and set-up in a way that makes it easier to stay organized. There is a “no stuff on floors” and a “no cardboard boxes” rule now.

She understands why having a “home” for everything is so important and why weekly cleaning where you actually put things where they go is super helpful. There is now a one in and one out rule that will be strongly enforced because if it doesn’t fit on a shelf it doesn’t come in.

We also did an exercise suggested to us where she had to choose the 10 most important things in her room which she had a little trouble with until I upped the anti with a dramatic story because she has to know why she would be forced to make an immediate decision. I told her to imagine she knew a hurricane was coming, she had limited space, and limited time. What 10 things would you pack?

Yes I know this is a real experience for many people, so I didn’t suggest this scenario lightly. We experienced a house fire when she was 3 so she does know what it’s like to lose a majority of your possessions, which could be some of where the emotional attachment to items went wrong. None of us can use that as an excuse though because it’s a family struggle since before that event took place.

My daughter struggled starting the list but once she got started she pinned down her most important items pretty quickly. We posted that list at her desk where she is able to see it regularly. We figured it would be a good way for her to remember what her main priorities are. One of her number one items was her roller skates, which made me smile.

To reward the process and motivate her to continue to organize and downsize I let her take her favorite kitty (don’t tell the others) into her room during class. The hadn’t been allowed in there previously because there because she would have just gotten even more frustrated if he jumped up on shelves and knocked things over.

Now that the tops of shelves are cleared off and the floor is easy to vacuum I let her take him up and show off him off during class. He is a long-haired super-fuzzy orange kitty, and so fun. I know she was excited to participate with the class because part of the fun of online learning is getting to meet everyone’s cool pets. It’s one of the 1st things they do every year.

I don’t really know how often the desk we set-up will actually get used. Last year both the kids preferred to “attend” their classes in bed, at the kitchen table, or sitting on the couch. This year several of the 8th grade teachers recommended using an additional monitor to make it easier to look at multiple resources during class time and for homework. I thought we were going to have to figure out how to get the monitor to display something other than what was already on her screen but she came down after a few classes and says she knows how and will show me later. Funny how fast they grow up and start teaching their parents new things.

Pretty sure that she will use her desk space more often this year though since the double-screen set-up will make her work flow easier. At the very least it gives her a space to practice organizing and putting things away immediately. I get that many people have 7 year olds that do this and you may be wondering how a teenager doesn’t manage to do this consistently. Well for one she had a bad season of resisting advice and a lot of non-productive cleaning. Pair that with collecting a lot more stuff and you have the Great Mess Clean Up of 2022!

Apparently we had to prove to her that cleaning weekly and being efficient are actual skills and that being unorganized is bad for time management. She says she gets it now, she is loving her new space, and she completed a good bit of school work today and her space is still clean and organized. I am thankful that our cleaning effort and coaching seems to be getting through to her. Now we have to help my son get his room back in shape too. Once upon a time he was my tidy one!

Organizing With My Son

To be fair he still is one of the tidiest people in the house but this last season wasn’t good for his organization either. He has a lot of different types of building toys and this summer he didn’t keep up with cleaning his room and they all got mixed together. He had been overwhelmed and unable to make progress, which is a state of being I fully understand.

We didn’t get his room finished before school but we did get rid of a few big toys, helped him hang some art and display his memorabilia, and we threw away a lot of random stuff that got brought home and mixed in with the toys. We have plans to work on his room more this week and make it easy to keep organized.

His desk is still at one of the built-ins, in the bay window, that was probably built in the 70’s. He has a jr. loft bed over a car bed that we plan to get rid of before we get him a new bed with a more official desk. Although I am uncertain of whether or not he will want or need one. That will probably depend on whether or not he plans to stay at school online or attend in-person. So for now tidying a desk space for him to store items (and work there when he isn’t lounging on the couch) works great.

My New Desk

While I was working on everyone else’s set-ups I managed to come across a new desk for myself. I had been intrigued by standing desks in the past although I didn’t want it to be a standing desk only because I work some pretty long hours some days, and for specific jobs (manufacturing electronics or crafting) standing would be uncomfortable at best and impossible at worst.

This tranzendesk is what I would consider the best of both worlds. It raises and lowers with a crank so I can put it at the exact height that works best for the job I’m doing. It’s also on wheels so it’s versatility is pretty impressive and I am dreaming about all the flexibility it will give me in my office space. I’m holding off putting it together until my son’s room is complete. Mostly because I feel like it will help him with school to have a relaxing a tidy space that he feels proud of, but a little to motivate my to finish helping him quickly so I can improve my own space. Like tomorrow!

I couldn’t find the exact model of tranzendesk I have. This one is similar but doesn’t have a crank to raise and lower it.

With the one’s with pneumatics instead of cranks, some of the buyers complained about needing a helper to raise and lower it. All the ones I found on Amazon with the crank either didn’t have wheels or weren’t 2 tier. The one I got had it all and it was a steal at $129! God bless Habitat for Humanity.

I have noticed when I get furniture pieces that have the attributes and versatility I desire, I struggle less with letting go of furniture that didn’t work as well for us (even if it’s a matching furniture set).

Instead of having a desk I used for storage and a work table, which takes up a lot of floor space, I can now make do with a shelf and the new desk/workstation. It will be so nice to have more square footage in the house.

Wrap Up

For those of you fighting the clutter and/or hoarding battle just know you are not alone. The collecting skills I learned as a young person have not served me in the last decade where stuff comes in faster than I can manage to take it out again. This season of my life has felt less like an uphill climb and more like I’ve been trying to climb a cliff-face with no skills, tools, and one-hand tied behind my back.

I feel like the one thing that has helped me stick with the process is just making the decision that I want my life to look different than what it has in the past. Weirdly I actually don’t mind cleaning at all if everything is tidy but I get quite paralyzed when I don’t know what to do with too many items.

I’ve learned that if I organize all the cleaning tools I need before starting the process, I much more likely to complete a project in a timely manner. Tools for me include trash bags, bins, dust clothes, boxes, and labels or post it notes. I’ve got these dry erase reusable sticky notes in my cart as we speak.

I take a deep breath and tell myself that I’m going to work “x” amount of time on a project. Giving myself a set time allows me to hit the goal I set instead of feeling bad that I didn’t complete the whole process of clearing out a space. If you know what it’s like to have spaces in your home that can’t be cleared in a day, then you know why this way of framing the cleaning process is important.

I’ve also tried to get really clear on what my priorities are and I delve into figuring out why things are sentimental. This has helped me detach from some items that are only sentimental to me because they were important to another loved one and I participated in the care of that item at some point in my life (instead of storing and ignoring it more recently).

I still struggle with throwing useful items away. Because of this I have researched many ways to donate the things I don’t need, or want, but still struggle to throw out. If I know the logistics of how to get it out of my space I am more likely to do so.

Lastly if something is organized to donate, or assigned to go somewhere, I try to do that as immediately as possible so it doesn’t get mixed back into the fray. I also label where it’s going to remind myself and others to take it to it’s new home.

While our family space is nowhere near what I want it to be, I am finally seeing big progress. It’s enough to give me the motivation to continue on the de-cluttering journey, and now I must go clear out a space for my new desk which is in the middle of my living room!

What are some tips that have helped you de-clutter your space and change your mindset about how much stuff you really need? Have you found ways to encourage resistant family members to downsize and practice organization? Thoughtful advice is always welcome. I hope everyone is having a wonderful end to the summer season and I hope you are as excited about fall as we are!

3 thoughts on “De-Cluttering & Organizing Kids’ Rooms (& Creating a Healthier Relationship with Stuff)”

  1. Good post yes to declutter is a big deal and sounds like you are doing well.
    As I start my last level of study(the most intense I might say) my wife is in donate mode! Our local “safe house” is taking everything we can come up with. Our hope is eventually when we get called we won’t have to pack more than a small truck. I will say it does feel good to give to a good cause blessings


    1. What a wonderful cause to donate to. I hope the study is going well even while being intense. Hey if you can downsize to a small truck worth of belongings that is amazing! I don’t know that I’ll get down to that level in this decade but I’m certainly going to keep trying and see how far I can get. I think you all have an amazing vision for the future. Helping so many others along the path will be way more rewarding than having stuff. I will keep that in mind as I continue to work through it all. Best of luck and prayers to you both.

      Liked by 1 person

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