October is the sweet spot of the fall season; the school year has already begun and the holidays are still a few months off. Whether your plans include a visit to a pumpkin patch or cleaning up the yard, October is the perfect time to complete a fall decluttering of your home. We recommend focusing on your children’s spaces as a way to simplify your home before the onslaught of holiday gifts arrive. Here are a few tips that will help you create a welcoming and simplified space in your home, ultimately ushering in a more peaceful holiday season.
First, let’s consider your home’s environment, specifically the spaces in which your children play. Do your children enjoy spending time in certain rooms besides their bedroom? Where are the toys, books, games and art supplies stored? Do those areas align with where those things are actually used?
Younger children tend to play near others in the family, while older children crave a space of their own. How can you creatively address the needs of all your children, regardless of the size of your home? Sometimes it takes a little ingenuity to reimagine the rooms in your home to better suit the whole family. If you live in something much, much smaller, can you dedicate a shelf or small space for each child to have as their own?
So let’s talk about what children actually need to grow and imaginatively play. But first one caveat: you know your child better than anyone else, so trust your own intuition as you work through these steps.
Have you ever watched your child become absolutely engrossed in an activity and become completely unaware of the world around him or her? The goal with minimizing is to create those opportunities for focus and immersion in imaginative and creative play as much as possible.
It can be overwhelming to a child to have too many options, toys with broken or missing parts or overflowing toy boxes. We want to provide them with the basics of imaginative play, while respecting the natural limitations of the spaces we live in.
Observe your child this week and make a list of what toys draw them in. In general, the best toys for a child are open-ended, meaning the child decides how to play with it rather than the toy only having one purpose. Art supplies, books, building toys, simple dolls, play kitchens and anything outdoors will have a lasting impact, even as your child ages. You know what your child loves best, so plan to keep the items that bring your child the greatest joy and spark long-lasting engagement.
Toys do not need to be expensive, fancy or hip to be special to your child. Anyone who has watched a toddler play for weeks with a cardboard box intuitively knows this. The goal is to cultivate the toys and books in your home to better align with your family’s philosophy, rather than running out and buying everything new.
So now is the time to actually grab a few empty boxes and declutter. You’ll need to decide at what level to involve your children and much of this depends on their age. It’s always best if you start simplifying when they are toddlers or babies, but often older kids are surprisingly receptive to cleaning up their spaces if approached with the right attitude.
Start small and watch for how your child reacts to change and act accordingly. Explain you’re making room for the most loved toys and sending the other toys to another family to enjoy. It’s best to involve kids as much as possible rather than getting rid of their things without their knowledge. Make it a family challenge to see who declutters the most items from their space and work as a team.
You’ll want to maintain this simplified version of your home. We recommend following the old rule to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Teach your children to return each toy, book or clothing item to its designated home. If you cannot find a place to permanently store something then it needs to go!
Don’t allow the spaces in your home to become cluttered again. Be intentional with future purchases, making sure there is a place in your home for the item. Some families choose to follow a “one in, one out rule,” which simply means donating extra items rather than keeping duplicates.
With only a few months left before the holidays there isn’t a better time to simplify the kids’ spaces in your home and prepare for a more peaceful season.
Kate Saffle and Melissa Risenhoover, two best friends who met as neighbors in Oklahoma City’s Belle Isle neighborhood, share a passion for guiding families toward stress-free parenting through simplifying. They host the Cohesive Home Podcast as well as offer resources for crafting a happier, values-driven home. Find out more on their website and connect on Instagram @cohesive_home.