Sharing Space with kids

I think I could spring clean every day of the year. Let’s face it, our adorable children come with clutter and chaos. No matter if you have toddlers or teens they leave a trail. Further more, if you are living with a child with different needs, specialised equipment and unpredictable behaviours can create a whole lot more chaos and clutter. Due to my son’s tactile issues less is more in our home. Autism has brought a whole new meaning to the word minimalism. I keep blaming it on the we’ens but I think we are all guilty of gathering clutter over a period of time. Here are a few tips on how to keep the kids and get rid of their clutter during May.

Have a home for everything. Teach the kids (big and small) that everything they own has a “home”. My big boy with autism ‘gets’ this the first time but ‘normal’ we’ens with a ‘somebody else can do it’ attitude and has a habit of hanging their coat on the floor need to be re-trained. Believe me; it is well worth the effort. Very soon with a few creative incentives you will have a place for everything and everything in its place.

Make tidying up fun. Use timers. Give each little helper a chore. Play games such as “I bet ya I will have all the dishes in the washer before you have your uniform changed and hung up in the wardrobe.” or “The DVD and popcorn begins when we have x, y and z completed.”

Clean as you go. I’ve learned to clean up messes as I go (or encourage the kids to clean up their mess), so that the house is (almost) never a wreck. A quick clean-up before going to bed, makes mornings more pleasant.

Designate areas for storing stuff. With the best intention, kid clutter spills out from their bedrooms into the sitting room, the kitchen and the dining table. Convenient storage bins and baskets make it easy for the kids (or you) to toss their stuff into, making cleanup simple. Labels and picture labels are good to identify what ‘lives’ where. Small plastic 3-drawer organizers are good for odds and ends that would otherwise be all over the place.

Sort school stuff. Create a folder and a home for school papers. A pin board is useful for school note reminders. Add school events to Google Calendar on your computer.

Have regular de-cluttering days. Tackle one area at a time: a drawer, a wardrobe, a shelf. Otherwise if you don’t get finished that particular day you will be fighting your way through the mess until the next chance you get. Only keep the toys and possessions that are truly important to the kids. Divide the rest in two boxes, stuff to give away or recycle and stuff to dump. Ensure you move the boxes to the car and dispose off as soon as you can, before the kids get to them first.

Buy less. Reduce the amount of stuff you buy for the kids. Buy quality rather than quantity. Cheap bits and pieces only end up around your feet or in a junk pile all too quickly.

Get to love the mess. Kids love mess. Painting, baking, play dough, school projects all make a mess. Join in. Be creative. Being a minimalistic parent isn’t as fun as being one that just enjoys their child’s company. When done, clean up together. Life may be less chaotic and clutter free but dreadfully boring without kids. Happy de-clutter and chaotic free day.


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