Raising Clutter-Free Kids

It's never too early to start teaching the ABCs of tidiness. While you may find it easier (and faster) to organize for them, it will save you time and headaches to pass the clean baton.
By: Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
Kids' Bedroom With Storage Shelf

Kids' Bedroom With Storage Shelf

Bins labeled with each childs' name or initials make putting toys away a snap. Design by Susie Fougerousse.

Write It Down

Our friend Marci had a great technique we want to share. She jotted down a short list for her 9- and 12-year-old sons. After Marci and her husband agreed on the list, she walked the boys through what they needed to do and offered to help them if needed. The list was simple to start. 1. Organize the family DVDs and video games. Donate discs you don't use anymore to charity and alphabetize and store the remaining ones. 2. Sort through the sports toys. Store athletic equipment on garage shelves and label them. Though it took a few reminders from Marci, both tasks were completed within one week and the boys were ready for more.

Make It Fun and Rewarding

Organizing can be seen as a chore, and we know how kids feel about those. To get real results, they need incentive. While money or gifts are an obvious choice, that may only be a quick fix. If you want long-term rewards, think of ways to make organizing fun. Let them blast their favorite tunes while they are working or give them free reign to make a huge mess before they clean it up. Lastly, when they have completed their task, make a big fuss over what a great job they did.

Follow the 12-Month Rule

Closets are bursting with clothes, 80 percent of which are never worn. Beds overflow with stuffed animals, 90 percent of which are outdated and dusty. Teach children the one-year rule: If you haven't used it in 12 months, chances are you never will. Throw it out, donate it to charity, sell it on eBay, whatever works for you - just get rid of it.

Embrace Technology

This won't be hard for kids today to grasp. Those piles of magazines, photos, CDs and school projects can be stored in a smarter, safer way. For example, reading magazines online takes up zero space. Digital photos can be stored electronically, and you can quickly and easily scan that cherished school artwork.

Make the Room

It sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised at how often this is overlooked. Your kids cannot put things away if there's no place for them to go. Work with them to choose fun (inexpensive) shelves, cubbyholes, bookcases or storage boxes. Help them label and decorate the boxes (they can pick silly names to make it fun). The more involved kids feel in the process, the more dedicated they will be in keeping their space tidy.

Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed people get themselves organized. They are also co-authors of Everything (almost) In Its Place.

Next Up

Recycling and Reusing Children's Toys

Go green in the playroom by reducing, reusing and recycling children's toys with these strategies from HGTV.com.

Decluttering Kids' Rooms

Try these strategies to calm clutter and bring order to kids' rooms.

Organizing Kids' Closets

Organizing kids' clothing — and keeping it that way — is possible with these 10 closet organizing tips.

Free Yourself From Paper Clutter

Keep paper in its place by using the following tips to cut down on paper clutter.

Kids Media Room

Browse kids' media room ideas, and get ready to create a fun and entertaining space for the little ones in your home.

How to Get Kids Organized

5 tips for teaching children to keep a clean room

15 Organization Ideas to Make Your Playroom Adult-Friendly

Because playrooms and adults can peacefully coexist.

Decluttering the Family Room

Keep the center of family life clear of an explosion of clutter.

Make a Dreamy, DIY Play Canopy for a Kid's Room

This magical night sky canopy is a simple, no-sew project to make on a rainy day. Using materials readily found in your local big box store, you can create a special place for your child to read books, relax and play with toys. Best of all, this project is easy on the wallet and doable for novice DIYers.

Easy Ideas to Declutter Your House

We’re not talking about sorting stuffed animals by size, or shoes by color. The HGTV Magazine experts are talking about real-life solutions: the boxes, baskets, and pockets you need to store all your stuff!

On TV

Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Hawaii Life

8pm | 7c

Hawaii Life

8:30pm | 7:30c

Island Life

9pm | 8c

Island Life

9:30pm | 8:30c

Island Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Island Life

12am | 11c

Island Life

12:30am | 11:30c

Island Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

Hawaii Life

3am | 2c

Hawaii Life

3:30am | 2:30c

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.