Utilise school holiday down-time: Teach your primary school kids to de-clutter

If you're in the position of being home with the kids during school holidays, I know this can mean striking a balance between enjoying your time together and the challenge of keeping them busy.  This time actually presents a wonderful opportunity to teach them a life skill and improve the state of your home. Yep you can de-clutter with your kids!

No doubt you've already taught them how to unstack the dishwasher, feed the pets and collect the mail amongst a whole range of other jobs around the house. However teaching kids why and how to de-clutter is commonly an over-looked life skill. The earlier you teach them, and the more normalised the process is as part of running your household, the easier it will be for the kids.

De-clutter with your Primary School kids

These categories are a great place to start.  

  1. Pens, pencils and crayons
  2. Boardgames and cards
  3. Dress ups
  4. Cheap plastic toys
  5. Clothes and shoes (especially around change of season)


The conversation around de-cluttering needs to meet the child at their level of development and understanding.  I find that my conversation with my 8yo daughter is different from my 6yo son. The rule of thumb is always to keep the conversation focused on the positives of de-cluttering. A 'what's in it for them' approach really helps. 

For example:

  • Lets sort through your pencils and textas and find all the ones that still work - instead of - lets toss away all your old pencils and textas.
  • I see you have lots and lots of plastic toys here, far more than you ever use.  Do you think you could choose some to donate to other kids who don't have any toys?
  • I notice that you're having trouble keeping your room tidy.  There is a lot of you to try to look after.  Can we see if we can make life easier for you by finding any old toys you don't play with anymore?  Maybe we could donate them to some younger children.
  • I know that you really want to buy XXX toy.  How about we raise the money to pay for it and make room for it by selling some of your toys which you no longer use?


  1. Select a category such as the ones listed above.
  2. Collect all the items belonging to that category together in one spot such as the dining table. Seeing it all together really helps kids to understand just how much they have.
  3. Sort these items into sub-categories; like with like.
  4. Identify anything which is broken, too small, has missing pieces or is no longer fit for purpose. 
  5. Decide as a team if these items should be fixed, replaced or thrown away.
  6. Ask your kids which of the remaining items they love.  Ask them to pick their favourite and then work backwards.  Don't pick for them.  Listen to their feedback.
  7. Let them know it is safe to be honest.  They may not like the last toy grandma gave them. Let them know that it's ok.
  8. Watch for when their enthusiasm starts to diminish; when they stop picking their real favourites and start just grabbing whatever is left.  Gently question them and try to find the line.
  9. Discuss options for what to do with items in good condition such as donating to other children in need or selling on a local Buy Swap Sell site.
  10. Be there with them side by side, but don't force decisions.  Re-enforce the benefits along the way.


De-cluttering with Kids eBook

How do I talk to my kids about de-cluttering and tidying my room?
How do I teach my kids about being a responsible consumer and reduce our families environmental impact?
How do I teach my kids how to make great decisions about what to keep?
How do I get my kids room’s back in order without having a fight?
How do I reduce the amount of money we spend on toys?
How do I stop wasting so much time cleaning the house so we can have more family time?
How do I work out what to chuck and what to keep?
How do I keep a room I worked hard to design looking neat and tidy?
How do I get my child to take more responsibility for their space?

In 2016 our family of 4 removed over 10 trailer loads and more than 20 large garbage bags of clutter from our home, freeing us from wasted time and money and leaving us with more for the things that matter.

During this process, I worked with our children to empower them to make great de-clutter decisions for themselves, instead of doing it for them.

Whether you want to take action to de-clutter your whole home, or just want to make day to day life with the family easier, you can access all the practical skills and knowledge we used when working with our kids in the 'De-Cluttering with Kids' 30 page eBook.

This eBook outlines in detail the 6 exact steps we took:
In step 1: 
You get my guide to stop clutter in its tracks
In step 2: You learn how your actions affect your child's clutter
In step 3: I cover how to talk with your child and focus on the benefits
In step 4: I outline exactly how to teach your child to de-clutter
In step 5: I teach you how to responsibly dispose of unwanted items
In step 6: I provide you with management strategies to make it last

Plus you also get:
> the importance of de-cluttering with your child, not for them
> benefits of de-cluttering for parent and child
> negative effects of clutter and how to minimise it
> how to reduce your families environmental impact
> a guide to your child's de-clutter ability according to their age & stage
> 5 kid-friendly de-clutter techniques
> 13 question prompts to get them thinking
> 4 ongoing maintenance techniques 

It looks specifically at the management of school work, artwork, clothes, accessories and sentimental items.

Read it in under 30 minutes and plan to take action quickly OR spread your action out over time according to your busy schedule. Just don't wait to make a start and create amazing changes your future selves will thank you for. Not only will you create clear & calm at home for the benefit of your whole family, you will be giving your child the gift of these often over-looked life skills.

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