How to Clear the Clutter from Your Kids’ Rooms for Good

If you’ve been putting off the day where you clear the clutter from your kids’ room, it’s time to take action. Tackle your kids’ bedroom or the playroom—the spaces that require daily work to keep clean—with a real plan of attack. We asked the experts to weigh in and offer tips on how to clear the clutter and keep things organized (for real). From prepping for the big day to what you need to toss out, keep reading for our guide on how to clear out your kids’ rooms.

How to Prep for the Day You Clear the Clutter

photo: iStock

1. Make a plan.
A good way to start is to identify what you want to accomplish while cleaning. Are there a lot of old toys that can be given away to a friend or sold at a garage sale? Does your kid need more space for books? Write down the tasks you want to tackle, and you'll feel better about the job.

2. Start where you are.
It's the secret motivational boost for what can feel like a daunting task. As VOICES Contributor Jennifer Landis recommends, any spring-cleaning project should start with one room, and look—you’ve got your kid’s room already picked out. Whether you tackle an all-purpose bedroom or have a designated playroom, grab your “to keep,” “to donate,” and “to toss” bags, and get going!

3. Move out.
If it’s been a while since you’ve vacuumed under that epic fort in the corner, it’s definitely time to move things around—or at least to the middle of the room, as organizing guru Marie Kondo recommends. It’s not only the best way to clean out nooks and crannies, but you’ll be more mindful of what you bring back in.

What to Toss While You’re Cleaning

1. The last of the baby gear.
Do you still have a nursing pillow in the closet? How about an activity gym or a Bumbo seat? If you’re done adding to your family, it may finally be time to pass these on to newer mamas or donate to those in need. And upcycle! Add flair to formula or diaper wipe containers for extra storage or paint those baby food containers for a color wheel crayon organizing system. Check out more clever ways to upcycle that old baby gear.

2. Anything broken.
No matter what project you’ve undertaken, little feels better than being on a roll, so start with easy toss-ables, such as anything broken. That play purse that lost its handle? Those three missing parts that don’t quite add up to anything? Crayon stubs you know you'll never melt into little DIY gifts? Let it all go and enjoy the immediate breathing room.

3. Random tiny toys.
All those little plastic toys your kids get while cruising the petite party circuit? If it hasn't found a place of honor in your kid's play rotation yet, toss it. 

4. Stuffies that aren't lovies.
We'll admit it, this one is going to be a battle, but if your little hoarder is old enough to rise to the task without suddenly growing inseparable with each stuffie you attempt to discard, then this presents a wonderful opportunity to donate those in good condition. 

5. Too-tiny clothes and shoes.
Kids grow fast in the early years. Before we know it, the pants are too short and the shoes are tight. Take honest stock of what your kid actually wears (oftentimes it’s a few favorite outfits), and purge what’s outgrown, stained or simply not your kid’s style. You can even go the capsule wardrobe route, check out our tips on how to make it happen here

6. The endless piles of paper.
Royal crowns from birthdays gone by? Notebooks long ago scribbled in? Coloring books of yesteryear? How about all those school Valentines or party favors? Take a quick flip through for anything indicative of early artistic genius, then recycle, recycle, recycle.

photo: courtesy Wallsauce

7. Outdated wall decor 
Have you changed your preschooler’s wall art since you set up the nursery? Every few years, it’s nice to switch things up. If you’re still planning to add to your family, put the sweet baby giraffe print in storage with the Rock ‘n' Play, and update the walls. Etsy has thousands of affordable printables, or clear wall space altogether for an educational mural from Wallsauce. Here are more genius ways to hack an amazing kid’s room.

8. Ripped, broken books and board books (if your kids are beyond the baby stage).
As little bodies outgrow clothes, big minds and imaginations outgrow books. If your bookworm’s shelves are bursting, it’s time to save a few sentimental titles and donate the rest.  

How to Keep It Clean After You Clear the Clutter

1. Clean up on the regular.
Now that most of the hard work is over, save time in the future by going through this clean-up process regularly, especially after birthdays and holidays, as NEAT Method recommends. Read on for other great pro tips and secrets to organizing success from moms.

2. Don't micromanage the small stuff.
Toys and parts often migrate under the couch, appear underfoot and end up right on your last nerve. While these Shopkins and snap-ins may be tiny, they need a big home. Rather than spend time every day re-assigning them to individual containers, consider one big bin or this fun Swoop Bag, which also works wonders for LEGO, train sets and play food. The best part? Clean up is literally a cinch, even for mini-mess makers.

3. Don’t go overboard on storage.
It’s a little counterintuitive, but hear us out. We are all for stylish, sensible ways to organize—and storage solutions are certainly keys to a clean room—but any additional containers are bound to fill up. Work with what you have to minimize excess—the answer isn’t always to store it.

4. Save the sentimental stuff.
We parents are one of the biggest reasons it’s so hard to get rid of what our kids have outgrown, both physically and developmentally. It’s emotional! We remember when he walked off to his first day of kindergarten in that sweatshirt or that toy dinosaur she carried absolutely everywhere for a year. Select choice pieces for cool and surprising ways to repurpose the sentimental stuff.

5. Upcycle “new” toys.
With everything is streamlined, the last thing you or your budget want to do is rush to fill it up with new stuff. The next time the kids beg for the latest, get creative! Sand-filled juice boxes make for awesome stacking blocks and corks morph into stamps. There are loads of great reasons why you should be upcycling anyway.

6. Use the "out of sight, out of mind" method. Have a place to stash the toys they haven't played with it in a while and give yourself a time limit. If, after the time has passed and no one has asked for it, you can donate or toss. Get more on how to make this work here

7. Let (some) clutter go.
At the end of the day, it’s a kid’s room. It should look like a kid lives, plays and imagines there, which means extra stuff is sometimes just part of the fun, messy wonder of it all. So relax, and remember that the next time clutter accumulates.

The 5 Places I Declutter Before Summer Starts
A Dramatic Play Game That Makes Cleaning Crazy Fun
5 Cool Gadgets That’ll Get Your Kids to Clean Up (No Bribery Required!)