Can you keep clutter in check with kids?

17 September 2022

Any parent will tell you the uphill battle of juggling kids and clutter.

From books, colouring-in and homework sprawled across the kitchen table (never mind that a family actually needs space to eat), to navigating the mountain of Lego dumped on the living room floor or that 1000-piece puzzle which is still a ‘work in progress’ – containing child-related clutter is a hard-to-master phenomenon.

Here’s a few ideas that might allow you to feel less overwhelmed.

Entry organisation

After a hectic day, we all know the drill. Walk in the front door, drop your bag at your feet and toss your keys on the hallstand. The entry foyer can be a dumping ground for anything and everything, so it’s wise to provide an organised space to keep some of the clutter at bay. Consider hooks for school backpacks, drawers to stash your keys or loose change and a hallstand for umbrellas, hats and coats. A basket can also be a good idea for shoes.


Having designated areas like a study or playroom for specific activities can help keep clutter in communal areas to a minimum. It’s a good idea to set some ground rules for children to keep their belongings in their bedrooms and specify that the living room, kitchen and dining area are for household items only. Containing clutter will make tidying up a much more streamlined process.

Teach to tidy as they go

From the get go, show your children how to tidy as they go. Ideally, this means putting their toys away before they start to play with something else. But you also need to lead by example. For example, don’t let the mail pile up – open it and file it away. Perhaps try a 30 minute family clean-up once a week where everyone chips in and puts things away. Having a reward like a family movie night or a trip to the park at the end might serve as encouragement.


Live by the mantra ‘one in, one out’. If there’s a big event like Christmas or a birthday looming and an onslaught of gifts on the horizon, make time to have a good clean-out of items that aren’t getting as much love as they once did. Being prepared and organised will help you to feel less suffocated by the presents when the celebratory day rolls around.


Think outside the square when it comes to storage. Consider options that may not present as regular storage options or have a dual purpose, like an ottoman or under bed drawers. Also think about maximising height when it comes to buying bookcases and shelving.


Despite your very best intentions, it’s worth remembering that minimalism and children aren’t a perfect fit. At some stage, you may have to accept that clutter and kids are par for the course. You may need to weigh up if you can accept some mess and clutter over a picture perfect display home, which could require a serious amount of nagging to achieve.

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