Practical Practices for Raising Clutter-Free Kids

As an aunt of twelve and a nanny of four, I’ve seen how much clutter children can add to a home. Plus, I was that kid. If that’s you and you missed last weeks post, it’s called 5 Ways for You (and your child) to Ditch being a Packrat.


Practical Practices for Raising Clutter-Free Kids

But today, here are 3 specific things you can put into practice that will help minimize that clutter:

  1. Teach them to say no to what they don’t love. This can be applied to both items and events. I originally heard it through Essentialism. Have them rate things on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 the best). If it isn’t at least an 8-10 or maybe even just a 9 or 10, then teach them that they don’t have to keep it or do it. Imagine only having and doing things you absolutely love! Of course they may try to throw out doing homework, but you can remind them that the consequences of not doing that wouldn’t be a 9 or 10.
  2. Let them hear you say things like: “I feel so free without that,” and “I’m glad I decided not to go to that event so that I can spend time with you.” Try not to let them hear you say: “But I might need this one day,” or “I wish I had gone to that party. I bet they’re having so much fun.”
  3. Set up their room so that it’s easier to put things away than it is to take them out. This advice is from Marie Kondo. The point is that they will work hard to get a toy that they want to play with, but they aren’t necessarily happy to put it back nice and neat. If clean up is easy and quick, then they’re more likely to do it without as much complaint.

As you do these things, keep in mind that people are more important than a clutter-free home. Your kids probably won’t change overnight and possibly never to the extent that you desire for them to, but if you push them too much then it may backfire. (More on that next week. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.) You don’t want them to hate and dread decluttering.

Show them that it can be fun sometimes and that it’s also one of those important skills that we don’t always want to do but should anyway.

What has worked for you in getting rid of your kids clutter? Share your knowledge in the comments so everyone can benefit.

5 Ways for You (& your child) to Ditch being a Packrat

Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.

-Wendell Berry

Go from Packrat to Clutter-Free

Being a packrat was easy for me.

I didn’t have to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. I just kept pretty much everything! This left time for things I enjoy more than decluttering, like playing with my nieces and nephews or camping. That’s what really matters, right?

But it got to the point where I realized the clutter was more and more inconvenient. Or maybe I just finally noticed how much time I was spending searching through piles of stuff.

I love to travel and would start packing months in advance because I would come across something I wanted to take with me. I knew if I didn’t pack it right away, I might not find it when I was ready to leave.

I also enjoyed working jobs where I would live at work for a few months. It was so nice to be away from the excess of my possessions and only have my favorite or most necessary items. But then moving back home was a shock.

And it was exhausting hauling my stuff around. Even my pocketbooks were weighing me down.

Even if you don’t relate, maybe that’s why you need ideas from a former packrat to help you teach your children how to improve this area of their lives so that they can flourish.

Here are 5 Things that Helped Me:

  1. List the ways being a packrat is not fun or smart or helpful. All the time I spent optimistically embracing my clutter was not helping me overcome it. Once I starting seeing how it was also preventing me from some things I wanted, I saw the value in changing.
  2. Dream about what your life would be like without the clutter (or even just without additional clutter). Visit houses of friends who don’t have any clutter so that you can get a taste for it, or just notice how you feel when you stay in a hotel. Use your list of what annoys you about clutter, and imagine your life without all of those inconveniences.
  3. Read about everyday people who got rid of their clutter. Don’t just look through magazines at what your house would ideally be like; find actual people who are living it. Ask them how they keep it that way. They might make light of it at first, maybe it’s more natural for them. Still, try to notice their habits and what is different about yours. Take them seriously.
  4. Be more sentimental about the future than the past. So many people keep things because of the emotions attached that they don’t have room for the new experiences in their lives. Think of what great memories (and pictures) you can create with family and friends in a clutter-free home. And remember other people can make good memories with some of the items you sell or donate.
  5. Start asking questions about each item in your house as well as new items that come in. Ask questions like: Does this bring me joy? Does it make me feel imprisoned in any way? Could I be happier without it? What else could I do with the space?

These are simple ideas that children can understand and apply, too. Start teaching them now so they won’t have to learn from scratch when they get to be your age and are overwhelmed by all they’ve accumulated over the years.


If you’re trying to get rid of clutter, be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can get more ideas on how to simplify your life. Because I don’t like a cluttered inbox either, I try to only send one or two emails a week.

Next week I’m sharing three specific ways to teach kids to be clutter-free. Whether you have kids, hope to one day, or if you’re like me and work with them regularly, then these are great habits to practice now.


Keep living tiny and dreaming big!

The Joy of Journaling in an Age of Distraction

Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand…your life…without one? How are the…compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal?

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen


I started journaling regularly before phones were smart.


It was my first year of high school, which wasn’t a simple time in my life. Journaling helped me process events and record memories with grandparents that have added value now that I don’t get to visit them anymore.

But having a smart phone is making me even more aware of how valuable journaling is.

When I’m journaling, I’m not checking social media, but I’m also not pouring information into my brain in other ways.

Journaling is a chance for me to think my own thoughts. It allows me to focus and reflect on what I’ve enjoyed about my day or week and what I’d like to do differently.

It reminds me how much I enjoy not being on a phone or computer. It helps me remember the simple things I enjoy and the people who are important to me.

In the quiet while writing in my journal, my creativity is refreshed.

I’m not filtering what I say to please others. There will be no controversy and no praise for what I write. No one will see unless I choose to allow them to later, which can also be fun.

Writing in my journal helps me slow down more than anything and think about how to make room for what matters most. It gives me time to reevaluate what’s important to me.

I love carrying a journal or pen with me because when I have five or ten minutes between activities throughout the day, I can reach for that instead of my phone.

However, as much as I love journaling, I still find myself not doing it as much as I’d like to. I’ve realized there are usually two big reasons for that.


Two Big Reasons for Not Journaling

  1. I’m not doing much that I find exciting enough to write about. Take me on a road trip, and I will be writing every day. It’s my form of taking pictures. I capture way more moments in writing than on camera. But it makes it difficult when I’m not having interesting conversations or visiting new places.
  2. I’m not making the process of journaling fun or easy. That’s why I so often choose my phone instead. My phone frequently has interesting notifications, but even when it doesn’t, at least it’s easy. It’s almost mindless. Not journaling. Sometimes I make it more difficult than it really is, though. I think I have to write for thirty minutes or an hour, or I wait until I’m tired. Or I don’t have the “right” journal with me.

If you can relate to either of those or would just like to start journaling for the first time, here are a few things that help me get excited about journaling again:

  • Writing about something from my childhood since I didn’t keep a journal back then
  • Remembering that it’s good for me
  • Hearing other people’s ideas on how they journal
  • Getting creative, even if it’s just by using different colored pens
  • Making myself write about something I’m excited about or disappointed by before I can tell anyone else

That last one can be hard, but it works! I’ve literally told my mom, “I’ll talk to you after I journal about it.” Three hours later…

But seriously, it’s worth it. Not only does it help preserve an important memory, but it also helps me process the experience which is super helpful in explaining it when I finally do tell someone. Maybe that’s just the introvert in me.

Anyway, now’s your chance to put down your phone, get off the computer, and journal even if it’s just for a few minutes…on a napkin.

No excuses.

Have fun!


P.S. Yes, this title was inspired by the book: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. 🙂