A couple of years ago a good friend of mine began giving me her son’s hand-me-down clothes. This friend loves to shop, and the clothes she was giving me were nothing short of amazing. They were high quality and looked brand new! However, my friend really loved to shop. She began giving me bags and bags of clothing and the giving kept going.
In previous years, I would have had my children use their Moneypants money to purchase these used items, to help limit their clothing to things they actually wanted. However, at this particular time our family was coming off a financial crisis that had left us in a rather desperate situation. My kids didn’t have any money. They didn’t have any good clothing. So I felt bad and just let them have the much-needed clothing for little or nothing.
Too Much Stuff
Soon, my four little boys had a closet brimming with clothes and drawers almost too full to close. It was such a blessing! But the clothing kept coming. Maybe because I was still so worried about finances, I couldn’t bring myself to donate any of the clothing. I might not have clothes for my kids if I got rid of these nice ones. So, I held onto all the clothing even though there wasn’t enough room.
I was still so worried about finances, I couldn’t bring myself to donate any of the clothing.
My seven-year-old (along with his 6-year-old, 5-year-old, and 3-year-old roommates) normally cleans his own room and does his own laundry with only a little help from me on laundry day. However, his room started to become a disaster. In fact, the mess spilled out into the whole house and yard. There were little boy clothing items strewn everywhere. My boys simply could not keep up with it. The sheer volume of stuff overwhelmed them.
To make matters worse, the 3-year-old kept tearing down all the clean clothes during nap time and mixing them with the dirty clothes. So then on laundry day we would have 8 baskets brimming with laundry (no exaggeration). I could not keep up. To make matters worse, wet clothing got mixed in the baskets and would start to ruin the other clothes.
Her tidy house was due to one big secret: she kept strict limits on how many clothing items her children could own.
Then a friend of mine mentioned to me that she knew a woman who also had a large family whose house was always tidy. My friend asked this amazing woman how in the world she managed that. The woman said her tidy house was due to one big secret: she kept strict limits on how many clothing items her children could own.
I realized that was our problem now. My kids had too many clothes to take care of, and it was causing constant stress. ALL the clothes were getting ruined because we had too many. In this case, less would actually have been more.
So, I finally grabbed all the laundry off the floor and out of the rooms and from all around the house and yard and put it in a giant pile in the middle of the living room. I made a list of how many shirts, shoes, shorts, pants, etc., each of my boys could own. I let them pick out their favorites and then I bagged up the rest. Washed it. Donated it.
Were my boys sad? Not at all. They were intensely relieved. Their room was manageable again. They were able to find their clothes easily. Their nice clothes weren’t getting ruined. They really liked the clothing they did have. It was their favorite stuff! They even began dressing nicer because they were able to find clean clothes.
If you or your child can’t clean their own bedroom, consider creating a list limiting how many of each type of item you can own.
Remember, you own the clothes, not the other way around. Too much stuff actually becomes a stressful burden, not a blessing.
Once you pare it down, enforce the following rule: any time you buy new clothing items, you must get rid of the same number of items.
Enforce the following rule: any time you buy new clothing items, you must get rid of the same number of items.
In fact, I like to give my kids points for turning in old items for donations any time they go shopping.
The Whole House
This same principal applies to keeping the whole house clean. Too much stuff makes the house difficult to clean. Once I realized this, I made a weekly goal for myself in Moneypants to collect up at least one bag of donations from my house and drop the donations off at Goodwill or a charity. Getting rid of too much stuff makes cleaning the house in general so much easier, and the good news is that it helps out others in need at the same time.
For more tips on teaching your kids to clean their own rooms, see How A 40-Year-Old Mother Learned To Clean Her Own Bedroom.
And for tips on motivating your kids to want to clean their own rooms, see Rethinking Gifts & Presents, and The Power of Cold, Hard Cash.
What methods do you use to keep your home clean and decluttered? Leave a comment below.