Technically, decluttering should never be an issue. You should always be mindful of everything you own. That way you’ll only ever have what you really need and what you really love. Back in the real world, decluttering is something adults have to deal with and kids have to learn. With that in mind, here are five tips for teaching your kids how to declutter.
Schedule family declutter time
There are lots of advantages to decluttering as a family. The most obvious one is that many hands really do make light work, even if some of those hands are small. Another one is that it can help avoid later arguments. If everyone is together when the decluttering gets done, then everyone can get a say in what gets kept and what goes.
Possibly most importantly of all, it just makes the process more fun and sociable. Your kids get to see you setting the example you want them to follow. Knowing that you’re teaching your kids a valuable life-skill can help you get motivated for the task.
Schedule regular small decluttering sessions
Adults might choose to deal with decluttering by having occasional major purges. Even for adults, however, this is usually far from ideal. For children, it’s a recipe for overwhelm. At best they’ll get bored and switch off. At worst, you could find yourself dealing with tears and tantrums.
Instead, break down your decluttering into regular, manageable, chunks. Instead of choosing a room, choose a part of a room. Instead of choosing a category of items, choose a subcategory of items. This will also give you more time to go through the decluttering process and discuss your options with your children.
Make sure your children benefit from the declutter
If you’re donating items, make sure your children understand why it’s good to pass them along. If you’re selling items, then get your children involved in the sales process. Where appropriate, give them a share of the proceeds.
Decluttering isn’t really about financial gains but they can be a nice bonus. Also, realistically, your children are probably going to want to use online sales at some point in their lives. Selling the items you’ve decluttered can give them the chance to learn about the process.
Commit to repairs (and upcycles)
A standard approach to decluttering involves dividing items into five piles – keep, sell, donate, repair/upcycle, recycle/bin. The idea of the repair/upcycle pile is that you fix/upcycle it and then decide whether or not you want to keep it. In the real world, however, what often happens is that this pile just sits there gathering dust. Eventually, it lands in the recycling or the bin.
This is totally understandable when you’re pushed for time. It is, however, a really bad example to set for your kids. Not only is it bad for the environment, but it can also waste a lot of money. Commit to doing those repairs or having them done for you. Use the process to teach your kids even more valuable life-lessons.
Firstly, you can teach your kids how to do basic repairs themselves. If you don’t know how to do a repair job, you and your kids can research it online. Secondly, you can help your kids learn to assess when they can do repairs themselves and when they should call in the pros.
You can also teach them about what to look for when hiring professionals such as tradespeople. For example, there’s a lot more to hiring a reputable local electrician than just searching “electrician near me” (although this can definitely be a good place to start).
Talk to your kids about safe decluttering
Safe decluttering essentially means ensuring that items are depersonalized before you send them on their way. It doesn’t actually matter if they’re being donated, sold, recycled, or binned. The key point is that they’re going out of your immediate control.
With most items, this basically just means giving the item a quick once-over to make sure that there’s nothing identifiable in it. This is also a good opportunity to have a last check for valuables in small places like pockets and pouches. With electronics, however, you need to be a lot more cautious.
The key point to understand is that just deleting data from an electronic device does not (usually) wipe it completely. You can think of a regular deletion as being like using an eraser on a pencil marking. It gets rid of most of it but you can usually still see the traces of where the pencil has been.
At a minimum, therefore, electronic devices should be reset to factory settings before they are passed on, even to recycling. In some cases, it may be best to buy software to give them a proper deep clean before moving them on.