Kids may be small, but their stuff? Not so much. We find that it’s really, really easy to get overwhelmed with clutter. Every time there is a gift giving occasion, we get bombarded with new stuff coming in. While we are grateful for the generosity our family and friends extend to us, we live in a small house. Every square inch of this place matters when it comes to space.
A few years ago, after some serious frustration from both of us, my husband and I came up with a strategy a couple of years ago that has helped us keep the clutter under control. While it can sometimes frustrate my kids, it has really helped us in so many ways!
It is simple. It is the one in, two out rule.
What this means is for every item that comes into the house, whether it be a new game, a new toy, a new book… two items go out. They can be donated, handed down, or sold, but they are out of your house.
I say it’s simple, but with caution; your kids will hate this rule! Trust me, especially after a birthday party, where they get LOTS of new items, it’s daunting for them to get rid of so many things (and we’re very loose with the rule then, especially since we’re apt to do a big purge before their birthdays in preparation for nw stuff.)
But there are so many pluses to this rule. Once it becomes an established rule in your house, you’ll start to reap the benefits.
They’ll Make Better Choices for “Stuff”
When my kids know that they will have to get rid of two things, they’re less apt to bring home crap that they find at the store with the money that’s burning a hole in their pocket. When faced with the choice of what they’ll get rid of, it causes them to be more thoughtful with their choices.
You’re Regularly Paring Down
My kids aren’t often getting new stuff, but when they do, we are paring down what we have on a semi-regular basis, which I love. Even though it’s small chunks, it’s manageable time-wise and I do feel like something is getting accomplished in terms of decluttering. It is much less overwhelming doing it this way.
Makes Cleaning So Much Easier!
I am a big fan of Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In the book she stresses the importance of minimizing your stuff and only keeping the things you that bring you joy, and by doing so, cleaning your home will be easier because you won’t have so much stuff to clean. It truly is as life changing as it claims to be! It’s definitely a little more challenging to Kondo-ize when you have children, but this rule helps me feel like we’re minimizing our belongings in a manageable way.