Aaaaahhhh. Clean(ish) Kids’ Rooms! (And Decluttering Party Week 4)

Photo - Decluttering with My Kids at

Monday was a school holiday.

My kids were (not so) thrilled when I announced on Saturday that Monday would be a Day of Decluttering.

I narrowed my eyes (for effect) and warned them that I was thinking of implementing the “Sure, you can get on your Kindle Fire as long as your room is clean!” policy.

I was thinking about it, but knew it would be a recipe for disaster with the current state of their rooms.

So I casually encouraged them to start thinking about how much easier it would be to clean their rooms if they had less stuff in them. (A strategy I know well.)

On Monday morning, after they’d had a few days to let the concept percolate, I declared it was time to get to work.

I restated my theory about less stuff being better and gave the boys a black trash bag and a donate-able Donate Box.

I told them to do the easy stuff first. Like trash.

I pointed out that they rarely go looking in their rooms for things to play with anymore, so there was probably a lot they could donate. (They’re ten and twelve.)

I worked with my daughter on her room. She plays with her stuff, so I respect that she wants to keep it. She also knows, though, that it’s much easier (and more fun) to play in a clean room. We used the same tactics with her. Trash first, laundry in a pile and donations next.

And here’s where I give some encouragement to those of you who dread days like this so much . . . that you put them off forever.

It gets better.

While we don’t have the keep-your-rooms-tidy-all-the-time thing down, we definitely have ALL gotten better at decluttering.

Kind of like with the random five-minute pick-up paying off, repeated decluttering sessions pay off.

While they used to fret over how they would live without a certain broken or un-played-with toy, they now know they did survive after all. So they’re more willing to get rid of newly broken and un-played-with toys.

Where would you look for this first? isn’t a mind-boggling question like it was the first time I asked it. It still takes some talking through, but it’s not a completely new concept.

I really was proud of my kids. My daughter came up with the logic on her very own that she really only needs to keep one (of FIVE!?!) jumpropes. My boys were excited to find a dart board that had been buried under a pile, but then decided that some other kid would be REALLY excited to have it if they donated it.

Once my daughter and I were through with her room, I helped the boys. We made more progress in thirty minutes together than they had in two hours on their own, but whatever.

Floors are clear. Too-small baseball cleats are in the Donate Box.

Photo - Cleaning Out the Kids' Rooms at

And the boys decided it was logical to only keep their two favorite light sabers since they could really only play with two at a time.

Photo - Two LightSabers

Wow. Makes a Decluttering Mama’s heart swell with pride.

The Donate Pile at

Two bags of trash and a decent-sized Donate Pile later, the rooms are soooo much nicer.

And maybe the “Clean your room before you play with your Kindle” will work.


At least for a while.

(At one point a while back, one of my kids expressed dismay about me showing pictures of his room on my blog. Therefore, I didn’t take pictures this time. When I told them that, though, they assured me that they don’t care if I show pictures. So while there aren’t any boys’ room before pictures, there will be some in the future. Unfortunately.)

How was your week? Did you declutter anything?

I’d love to hear about your own decluttering adventures in the comments or you can link below to a post on your blog.

In case you link up a blog post, here are a few things to consider:

Be creative with your title. Last week, links with a post title showing instead of a name got significantly more clicks. If you want comments, please consider turning off your captcha code thingy. When I started blogging, I had that set up too because I was paranoid about getting spam or rude comments. But that extra hassle just discourages people from commenting. Seriously, don’t you hate entering those awful codes? Just put your comments on moderate.

Also, be SURE to click on the title of the post you want to link up. Once that one post is the only one showing on your screen, grab that specific url and use that as a link. If you link to your homepage, people won’t be able to find your decluttering post.

Cleanish Kids Rooms at


--Nony get-how-to-manage-your-home-without-losing-your-mind-wherever-books-are-sold


  1. 1

    I spent much of the day Monday decluttering my messy bedroom. It’s maybe between 1/3-halfway finished. I’ve been struggling with the same heaps and piles of clutter for months. Things that are good, that I want, but have nowhere to put have been shuffled from this box to that bag to that pile back into a box, etc. I finally told myself sternly that it doesn’t matter how good it is and how much I want it: if i don’t have a place to put it, it needs to go. And honestly, if it’s been living in a box/bag/pile for the last 12 months, I can probably get by without it. I’m hoping to finish this project this weekend. You’ve really inspired me, and I love your two questions. I’m finding it very helpful. thanks!! (a fellow DFW’er)

  2. 2

    Haven’t been decluttering because most of the clutter left is going to require a lot of persuasion with hubby (it’s his!)but I’ve kept my dishes clean and counters wiped down everyday since Monday so I’m excited about that!

  3. 3

    Your kiddo’s did an amazing job!
    Thank you so much for the helpful hints on comments!
    I have a link back on my latest post for you, I want others to discover you and be encouraged.

  4. 4

    I haven’t decluttered lately but I’ve been using your laundry once a week method and it’s helped me a lot.Like you, I had the horrible habit of forgetting the laundry when I tried to do a little everyday. I’ve also started having a day a week where I get all of my baking goods out of the way and it’s really ,really helped me get more done during the week. (Might have linked to you twice which made me feel a little fan-girlish but like Tommie I just want to get the word out about who’s been helping me get back on track.

  5. 6

    I haven’t decluttered too much lately being busy with work and some jaw pain going on (don’t grind your teeth!) But yesterday I did get around to finally putting a small pile (yes, pile) of expired food in the trash that I had gathered up last weekend while cleaning the kitchen. I don’t know why – I feel totally guilty doing it. BUT, who is going to want to eat expired cake mixes or sauces that expired two years ago? Taco shells dated six months ago. I’m mad at myself, and I need to continue buying less. I’m going to have to retire the thinking (ingrained all my life by my mom/grandma) that I NEED to have food stockpiled at all times. The stockpile does NO GOOD when its expired and/or questionable.

    And I decluttered a phone line. I have three lines in my home, one personal, one business, one fax. I finally called and cancelled the personal line – saving myself $35.00 a month. It was something I waffled back and forth on for quite a while. However anyone who needs me calls my cell or business line. Only telemarketers call the personal line (I had that number 16 years!). But good riddance. Now I just need to declutter the phone next to my bed. Haha.

  6. 7

    My biggest declutter project in the last month was for my MIL: her liquor collection.

    My FIL would buy a bottle whenever they left the country to take advantage of ‘duty free’ booze. The only issue is that neither of them drink. He passed away about a year ago, and we cleared out five different shelves / cabinets of booze. What my MIL will actually drink fit into one shelf. Each of her kids took what they would drink from the leftover, and there were STILL 25-30 bottles left over. Finding somebody who drinks that much whiskey, gin, brandy, sambuca, and banana liqueur was challenging.

  7. 9

    This week, I have been tackling the clutter in the master bedroom closet. This is the place I put things that do not have a “home” elsewhere in the house. I have a lot of things “piled” throughout the master bedroom now. I homeschool my kids and so every hour we take a 10 minute break to stretch our legs and minds. I run to the bedroom & deal with at least 10 things. Slowly, but surely I am seeing some improvement. Thanks for your blog and your podcasts! I need the motivation!!

  8. 10

    It’s only a little, but I took down all of the papers my daughter (age 9, who likes to play school) had taped to her door or walls in her room and our door to our upstairs. So much more to go, but I had a few minutes while she wasn’t at home, so I took advantage!

  9. 11

    I am finally decluttering, But YEA to yall 🙂

  10. 12

    Great job with your kids! I was at my niece’s home the other day when she told her seven-year-old daughter to find four things in her room to get rid of. We were discussing something when her daughter came in with three things and put them on the sofa. Looking over at them, I was rather surprised at her for agreeing to give away some nice things. Then she came back in holding the fourth item. She was crying. Upon further investigation, we learned she had misunderstood her mother’s intent. She was giving away things she liked, not trash or old toys! My niece then fully explained the concept of decluttering. The beloved toys went back into the room, and lots of flotsam and jetsam left!

  11. 14

    This post reminded me so much of my kids, especially my son. Keeping his room clean is definitely not a priority. He’s younger than your boys but I desperately want to help him develop better habits. While I would definitely say that he tends to be a slob I know that I need to quit putting off the task of helping him clean his room. Thanks for the tips!

  12. 15

    I love that your kids are getting better at this! That gives me hope that maybe my kids will get better too, and maybe they won’t end up like me with a real clutter problem as they age. I didn’t realize this is something that kids need taught? Am I this way because I was never fully taught? Well enough with the excuses, I worked on cleaning out my oldest’s clothes on Monday. It was an all day chore. Made me realize that even though he typically wears his clothes for a whole year before outgrowing, that I need to do this 2x a year. Still have the other 2 kids to go. So Wednesday I decided to take on the famed master bedroom. I worked for a full 5 hours and made a dent that was noticible, but that I had to point out to my hubby. What I’m trying to say is that 5 hours of decluttering barely made a dent. I can now look out to my side of the bed and only see the tops of about 5 piles. Before, I could’t quite see my closet when I looked over from the bed. I also now have a small path I can walk on to get to the closet. Before, I could get there but I had to jump about 3 times over piles. It feels great to walk! But I’m discouraged by the amt of time I have left to go. Thinking I will talkle another kid’s room today to give me hope again.

  13. 17

    Your kids did a wonderful job! Good for all of you 🙂 I had a rather lazy week. But luckily, without having planned it, my husband and I got started on decluttering our kitchen sink cabinet last Saturday. Even though we didn’t finish, this makes me feel like the week wasn’t a total loss. What I did do while being lazy was tackle my email inbox. Oh boy! It was a mess, and I’m still not done! I left my link to the post about about overwhelming project.

    Thank, Nony, for the inspiration and encouragement…And for inviting us to link up 🙂

  14. 18
    Kristin Grear says:

    I had a great conversation with my daughter(8). I asked her if she knew the rules of what to keep and what to get rid of. She said ” There are rules?” Yes, I told her “if she didn’t love it or use it that she should get rid of it.” She then proceeded to pull out a large box of shells, that I have tried to get her to throw away for a long time. She asked if she could get rid of them. I said “yes”. So, she pulled out her favorite shell, and threw the rest away. Then we cleaned out her dresser, and packed up clothes to pass down to her little sister. I then realized that she still had to many clothes, because they are all over the floor, and the dresser was still full. I think that we have reached the amount of clothes that she can maintain. Not what the little girl who passed all these hand me downs to us could manage, but what my little girl can do. Thank Dana. Your dish story was the epiphany.

  15. 19

    You did a great job!

    We decluttered DS’s room only recently, too. We practically only removed obvious trash, and it looked so much better immediately.

  16. 20

    I’ve just started following your blog. It’s really given me needed motivation and new ideas. The idea to run the dishwasher everyday motivated me with decluttering a long neglected area of my kitchen counter where everything gets dumped as I come in the door. Since the kitchen is free of dirty dishes I was able to move on to another task that needed attention. Thank you.

  17. 21

    I just found your blog. I have been an avid FlyLady follower for a while, but her methods seriously just overwhelm me – even when taking baby steps. I’m excited to see what your methods are all about.

    In response to this particular blog post. I took the first three days of the new year off from work. I sent the kids to daycare. During that time, I decluttered and straightened/organized their rooms. My son is 7 and my daughter is 3. Son had no idea how to clean his room b/c he had so much stuff he didn’t know where to begin. Daughter just doesn’t know yet. I got their rooms cleaned out and have 6, yes 6, large boxes of just toys to donate. I cleared out three 30-gallon garbage bags of broken and missing-pieces toys out of their rooms. I also cleared out the dining room b/c that’s where a great majority of their toys were stored. I did one kid room per day those first two days. On the 3rd day, I cleaned out our master bedroom. It was also filling up with kids’ toys VERY quickly. It was a lot of work, but the toys are now pared down to a manageable quantity.

    As a result of all that time I spent, we were able to have son’s 7th birthday party at the house, with his friends over to play. It was awesome. My mom, much to my dismay, announced openly how impressed she was by how clean my house was – in front of people who had never been in my house. Thanks, Mom, for announcing I’m a horrible housekeeper… Isn’t that the kind of thing the mother-in-law is supposed to do?

    Anyhow, we’re in the 4th (??) week of January now and my house is still clean. I fully intend on it remaining this way. I just finished wiping down my kitchen and Windexing the (smooth-top) stove and sinks. They’re glistening now. 🙂 I’m very happy with it. My mood is improved b/c I don’t experience an overwhelming sense of doom when I walk in the door anymore… however, it might be getting a bit out of control when I make my husband fill the dog’s water bowl in the bathroom so as not to get my kitchen sink wet. 😉

  18. 22

    I spent Sunday afternoon cleaning and de-cluttering my daughters room (while she was away having had a sleepover). What a huge difference – and she can now fit in a desk for doing homework/colouring/craft etc at. I don’t think she quite realises how many broken things and drawings from school last year disappeared. Now to just teach her how to keep it that way! My new motto – don’t put it down – put it away!

  19. 23

    Still reading “backwards” (from the beginning.) Getting closer to getting caught up! I found my cat’s “evacuation” leash and harness!!!! It’s been missing for maybe 8 years–I’ve been racking my brain off and on for that long trying to figure out where it was (before we need it again…) WOO-HOO! I’m working on a mountain of clutter (boxes of stuff) at the foot of my bed AND I FOUND IT! (Here’s hoping and even knocking on wood that we won’t EVER have to evacuate for a hurricane again–but I have her leash and harness now, just in case!) And it has a home–with the other pet supplies now!

    And this blog has inspired me to throw things away that I wouldn’t have in the past. Like a clock whose hands were loose–I’m sure I could take it apart and fix it–and the background of the clock was a sweet picture of my son playing hockey like his first year and I could hang the fixed clock in his room and wouldn’t it be so cute. Nope–it’s in the garbage. And his cute little baseball hanger–with a place for his bat and ball and hat and glove. Oh one of the pegs is missing–I’m sure I could find a replacement for it. Nope–it’s in the garbage. (My son is 19 and hasn’t played baseball since 4th grade–when he switched over to hockey.)

    And this blog has inspired me to make my bed every day (and I treated myself to a new comforter set that is so awesome), and sweep my kitchen every day, and wipe down my bathroom every day. And set up a regular schedule for cleaning my bathroom and washing my sheets.

    With your help, I’m going to get there–to having a decluttered and easier to clean house! Thank you!

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