5 quick ways to declutter your home when you have kids
Too much stuff? (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

We live in a bungalow; it’s no bigger than a glorified three bed flat, but it’s full to the brim.

The chaos in the mornings is bad enough without having to trip over skateboards, bikes (yes indoors) and roller blades while simply trying to get to the kitchen.

Why it takes a village to bring up your kids

I read the book by Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Art Of Tidying Up, when it was published a few years ago. I then mislaid the book in the house somewhere, a simple example of how our house functions.

My eldest will be eight in March.

That’s eight years of tidying toys, only for them to be scattered across the house minutes after they were put away. My feet have suffered from numerous minor injuries over the years, from standing on rogue pieces of Lego and a Paw Patrol head, hidden discreetly on the floor.

The middle son has approximately 40 teddy bears. He favours bunny and trunky for outings, but doesn’t miss a trick when I attempt to give some to charity. Reducing teddies in his room is a hard task.

I feel like a hoarder and I have had enough. I would like to spend more time with the children and less time tidying.

Last week, I did two tip runs and three trips to the charity shop.

So far, 15 bin bags have left the house full up and ready to burst.

No-one has asked any questions about where the Fireman Sam character has gone, or the old Thomas train.

So far, I appear to be winning.

5 quick ways to declutter your home when you have kids
(Picture: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

Here is what I have done to beat the battle of the clutter:

Ditch the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality

In previous spring cleaning phases, I’ve chucked stuff into a cupboard and pushed the door hard until it shut.

The slight issue here was the fact that obviously I could never remember what I have put where and it only takes one child to open a cupboard door while searching for something and the entire contents tip out onto the floor.

This time I started with the cupboards first.

Do the first big clear out when the kids are out

I have friends who have successfully asked their children to choose toys for the charity bag but in my house, it seems that they cannot choose anything.

The first big cull has to happen when they aren’t there.

When you open the cupboards and things fall out, you will hear cries of ‘oh I wondered where this had gone’.

Out of sight, out of mind remember – so if it’s been in a cupboard for a few months, then chances are, they have forgotten all about it anyway.

Divide things into categories

This sounds obvious but I have now put all of the sleeping bags in the same cupboard, and all the torches in a drawer together.

Gloves have their own basket by the front door, and cars and character toys are all in their own little boxes.

Set some rules

This depends on age but my elder two understand this rule: When you have finished with a toy, put it back in its place.

Now that there is a place for everything, it should be quite easy.

If they don’t tidy up when I ask then I sweep it up and put it in the charity bag or the bin in front of them. This is working nicely.

Does it bring you joy?

5 quick ways to declutter your home when you have kids
(Picture: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

This is the number one rule of Marie Kondo.

Here’s what brings me joy:

Not spending my time moaning about picking up mess, sitting with a cup of tea and building Lego with the boys (the main toy that we have kept).

A feeling of space in my own house instead of the feeling that I am living in a squat with my own kids and can’t even find a pair of socks.

These things bring me joy.

Looking around I could pretty much get rid of everything apart from photos of my parents, pictures that the kids have drawn and two pieces of art on the walls.

With so much space, am I going to start filling up the house again? No chance. I am going to paint the walls, put up some more of the kids artwork and spend more time doing things that I love, rather than wasting it searching for odd socks. (I threw them all away too, we are starting with new socks for a new year – wish me luck).

Oh and there’s still the attic to go, a whole other nightmare of childhood memories in boxes. Letters, diaries, photos and lots of my parents belongings. There may be a part two to this article coming soon.

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