It’s Week 11 of the Less Mess Challenge and we’re working in kids’ bedrooms this week. My kids’ rooms always need a good refresh! Decluttering and organizing kids’ rooms is a big job, especially if you’ve got multiple children or children that are “collectors.” Let’s go through these rooms, tidy them from top to bottom (when was the last time you dusted those ceiling fans?) and declutter everything in between!

It's Week 9 of the Less Mess Challenge and we're working on decluttering, organizing, and cleaning children's rooms!
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Tips for Tidying Kids’ Rooms

Tidying kids’ rooms can be a challenge. Between all the stuff and the opinions, it’s not an easy feat. Here are some of my best tips for organizing kids’ rooms.

Be Respectful

Kids’ rooms are often a reflection of their interests and personalities. They take their spaces seriously—after all, it’s probably the only space that’s their territory—and we need to be respectful of that. While it can be tempting to roll in with giant trash bags and toss as much as possible, but that will only lead to sad kids who can’t trust you in their spaces.

Respect is important when you're organizing and decluttering someone else's space!
Photo: McCoy Artwork & Photography

Instead, it’s important to be respectful of your kids. You wouldn’t want someone going through your room with a trash bag taking whatever they please, right? Let your children know ahead of time that you’re going to be spending some time cleaning and decluttering their room. Give them the option to be involved. Let them know you’ll be going through their things.

My Children’s Rooms

When organizing kids' rooms, treat their spaces with respect.

One of my children usually gives me the green light to work on my own—she loves seeing the transformation when it’s clean and organized and trusts me to use my judgement on what stays and what goes. Lately, she’s been doing her own tidying and organizing without prompting.

Another one of my children is the opposite. He doesn’t want me touching his things unsupervised. This one is attached to everything — even literal garbage. He tells me I can’t be trusted (this arose when I give clothes that are too small to his younger cousin).

The third kiddo loves to help me organize. She’s fantastic at letting go of items she no longer loves and has spent our organizing time arranging her nightstand drawer so it’s just right.

Use Logic to Help Declutter

Less is more for toys and STUFF for kids, but even if we know this, sometimes our kids don’t. Speak to them logically about it. Explain to them they will have an easier time keeping their rooms cleaner. They’ll also be able to clean their rooms faster when they have fewer items — which means more time to play!

Take some time to check clothing sizes and fold everything in the dresser nicely while you're organizing and decluttering kids' rooms this week.
Photo: McCoy Artwork & Photography

Designate a Recipient

If your child has a hard time letting go of items, sometimes having a great place for that item to go can be helpful. Maybe knowing that clothes or toys are going to a little cousin or a children’s hospital might make it easier for your kiddo to give some items up.

Set Limits within Kids’ Rooms

It can be VERY helpful to give children boundaries and limits. Whether your number is spatial (you can keep all the stuffed animals that fit in this basket) or numerical (“Twenty shirts is a great number for a 5-year-old, let’s see how many you have and see if we can get it that number to twenty!”), it will help your child learn to take charge of his stuff on his own.

Letting your child know that you’re going to stick to this limit will also help him rethink that request for extra toys when you’re walking through Target (“If you get that stuffed animal, you’re going to have to let go of one you have at home, and I know you love the animals you have.”)

Apply this concept to any kind of hobby or collection your child has a hard time resisting — Lego sets, books, Pokemon cards, rocks, whatever!

Need to declutter some books? Here are some helpful tips!

Decluttering books can be difficult. Maybe your children will enjoy using this decision tree.

Consider Rotation

If you have more than you’d like in a space, but someone just can’t let go, consider rotating items in and out of the space. This can be done with toys, books, and even seasonal clothing.

Read up on Toy Rotation in this article.

See how I implement Seasonal Book Rotation in this post.

Lead by Example

As always, it’s important to lead by example. If you provide your kids with limits, but don’t have a limit for yourself, what message is that sending? If you ask them to clean their room, but your room is a mess (it’s not, because you took part in the Less Mess Challenge and your room is neat as a pin) why should they listen?

Rainbow order isn't a necessity when your organizing kids' closets, but it sure is pretty!

Decluttering and Organizing Kids’ Rooms

As always, whether you just have a few minutes or a few hours (or days) do what you can when you can and take pride in your work. Let go of perfection and embrace improvement. Do as many rooms as you can, perhaps just doing quick declutters in each space, or extend this week’s task for an additional week or two.

Avoid conflicts. Having clean, organized kids’ rooms is fantastic, but it’s not worth excessive stress and conflict.

If You Only Have 30 Minutes: Quick Declutter

  • Throw away any obvious garbage or broken toys.
  • Change the sheets (if necessary) and make the bed. While you’re checking sheets—how many do you have for each child? Can a set or two go?
  • Pull out items under the bed and make sure they belong.
  • Clear the top of the dresser or desk, if present.
  • Clear the floor.
  • Put items in their home. If they don’t have a home, assign one. If there’s no place where you can put an item, create one by adding a shelf/dresser/bin or remove items (this may take longer than a half an hour)
Organizing kids' rooms? Check that dresser!

If You Have an Hour: Declutter & Surface Clean

  • All tasks above, plus…
  • Quickly look through dresser drawers and tidy them. Pull out anything that’s too small. Clear out anything under the dresser. Dust the top.
  • Tidy the closet, look through clothing, pull out anything that’s too small.
  • Tidy and dust any shelves.
  • Vacuum the floor.

If You Have a Few Hours: Declutter, Deep Clean & Organize

  • All tasks above, plus…
  • Wash all bedding — comforters, blankets, and shams.
  • Go through the nightstand drawer and tidy it.
  • Empty the contents of the dresser, one drawer at a time. Make sure it fits, belongs, and is folded nicely before returning it to the drawer.
  • Fully empty any closet shelves. Sort items into categories and return them to the shelf neatly. Use bins, if necessary (A too small and too big bin are always good ideas for children’s closets).
Organizing kids' rooms and closets? Be sure to include a bin for clothing they've outgrown!
  • Go through desk drawers and assess every item. Toss wrinkled papers, candy wrappers, old markers, crewed crayons, pencil nubs… you get the idea.
  • Look through any toys, bins, or treasure boxes. Speak with your children about passing items down that they no longer love/use/need.
  • Dust the baseboards, ceiling fan, and windowsills. Wipe down light fixtures, doors, and switches. Wash the windows.

Next Up: Decluttering & Organizing the Garage

Back to the Full Less Mess Challenge List

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