Kids Rooms

Thursday, March 15, 2012

For weeks, I've been thinking about cleaning out my kids' bedrooms. They have too many toys, papers, broken contraptions, and halfway colored projects hanging around. Everything is special or important, which means that nothing is.

I procrastinated, because I thought I had to do this with the kids. I imagined that would take forever, and that the end result would be two things thrown away. How delightful to read, then, that Jules cleaned out her sons' rooms when they weren't there, and that this is the recommended method. Light bulb! I honestly don't know what I was thinking . . . it's not like I consult the children on most decisions. Still, this seemed personal and I didn't want to upset them.

So, last week, I told Big Guy (age 5) that when he went to school on Wednesday, I would be at home, cleaning out his room. I told him that I was going to throw away all the trash and organize his toys. To my great surprise he said, "Gweat! My woom is a mess!"


Little Guy (age 3) was a great helper. He carted all the "family room toys" that I found in Big Guy's room back to the family room and played with them until I was done. He was thrilled to have those long-forgotten cars, and he kept himself busy with them.

Meanwhile, I decided to tackle this as a full-on cleaning project. I pulled the rugs out of the room and swept up a disgusting amount of dirt. I swear I vacuum and dust, but this was ridiculous. I used the broom handle to get ALL the toys, papers, and teeny tiny Lego bits out from under his bed. I moved the under-bed storage containers to his closet and decided that nothing should be stored under this child's bed. For him, that storage is an invitation to keep more stuff under there. Now that it is clean, it should remain clear.


It took me about 1.5 hours to complete this room, but it was totally worth it. For one, it is virtually dirt and dust-free, which is important for a guy with allergies. In addition, Big Guy can now find his treasures. He rushed home after school to see the result, and he loved it.

I got on a purging high after this room, but didn't take any more pictures. Little Guy's room only took me about half an hour, and then the family room took about another hour. In the end, I had about one giant bag of trash, and five smaller bags of toys and books to take to Goodwill.

You'll notice that Big Guy's bed is still covered with animals, and he still has bins full of toys. Our family room remains a play room. That is fine. I wasn't out to make huge changes; just necessary and calming changes. Big Guy told me that he didn't want to get rid of any of his animals, so I respected that. Still, I worried, momentarily, about how the boys would feel about parting with certain items: broken remote control cars, and books that we never found stimulating. I found that it was best to simply put everything by the front door and let it sit for a few days.

"Are we giving all this stuff to Goodwill?"
"But I still like my orange cwocks!"
"But they don't fit you anymore."
"Oh. . . are they going to go to some other chillren?"

That was it.

What are your rules for consulting your children when cleaning out their rooms?

Linking with:
The William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries (on the 22nd - Jules is sick today and wisely taking a break)

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11 Responses to “Kids Rooms”

  1. I BADLY need to do this! I have always tackled this project sans children, so that isn't my problem. It's finding the large chunk of time to get it done! After all, I can't really start on it and then finish a few days later - they have to sleep in there! We are reaching the family stage where it's become necessary to weed out the baby toys and lesser-used, but I'll admit to having a hard time with that. Even if they didn't love that toy, I maybe did! Thanks for the encouragement. Hopefully I'll use it to get going. My kids will thank you!

  2. wow, you're a good mom..
    if i be your child, i like this room as my gift in birtday...
    nice, i;m tina..visit me here..

  3. Brandee - If it makes you feel any better, I wasn't totally motivated to do this until I saw it on another blog. And even then, I had to wait for the day when I was in the right mood and I had enough time to get it done. I guess I should be grateful that our house is fairly small. The rooms don't take too long to clean and there is no play room. Also, I'm guilty of assigning more value to some toys than my kids - it is hard to let go of some precious items! I save quite a bit and will have a day of reckoning with that soon . . . I think :)

  4. This was always such an emotional chore for me! What to keep, what to trash, what to store. I had one daughter who didn't really care, but another who cared deeply. I was always in between. So I would often put things in bags in the attic for awhile to see if they would be missed before permanently getting rid of them. :-) 

  5. Great job! It seems like once you get going it's so much easier...well, sometimes. The room looks like such a fun place to play! :)

  6. Wow!  Great work.  Kid's rooms are the hardest!

  7. I definitely clean out the toys when my daughter isn't around. She's 3 and if she sees something she played with as a baby, it's the new big hit. Which is good on one hand, but the toys are totally not age appropriate anymore.

    I started when our daughter was really young (like maybe a year old) to break her toys down into shifts. I keep a box in her closet with stuff she's lost interest in, and bring out "new" things. The rotation helps to insure that there's not an overwhelming amount of toys out at once. And she end up playing with the toys much longer because they stay interesting. 

    I also recently went through some of our stuffed animals, because they just seem to multiply on their own, and put some of them that she hasn't shown any interest in into a box. She hasn't noticed they're gone, so they'll be donated soon. 

    It's amazing how quickly they seem to grasp the concept of giving the stuff to a better home where kids can use it. My daughter also "gets it" that her old stuff will go to kids who need it now that she isn't using it, especially clothes. 

  8. Wonderful! I think both of you learned some valuable lessons! I'm so glad it was a positive experience.

  9. Can't believe you got that all done that quickly...even the sticker removal?  Wow!  I love that you just wanted to make things calm and orderly and think you did it.  So glad you respected his wish for the animals to stay.  

  10. I clearly take too long for my projects.  I kid you not, when I say that I have probably spent six + hours purging in Sam's  room over the last few weeks. It is a definite pattern for all of my projects.  You made great progress in so little time!

  11. My rule for purging kid stuff is: Don't consult, just do it.  My oldest is a pack rat, but if I don't bring it to her attention, 99% of the time she has NO IDEA it's gone. I think that sometimes kid stuff takes up just as much mental clutter as it does physical clutter!