how to declutter your kids messy playroom

How to Declutter Your Kids’ Playroom (in Under 30 Minutes)

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Toys. Clothes. Shoes. Sippy cups. Legos. Dolls. When you walk into your kids’ playroom, you see it all, and you don’t even know where to begin organizing. So, you close the door and walk away until you have the strength to face it. The truth is, you can declutter your kids’ playroom in under 30 minutes. The key is to prepare ahead of time.

Step 1: Make a Plan

All good organizing efforts start with a plan. When you’re having a particularly good parenting day, screw up your courage and take stock of the playroom. Try to envision what you want it to look like. Be realistic. You know that it will contain toys and storage containers and perhaps a table and chairs, art table, or easel.

Which furniture arrangement optimizes the space and leaves walking paths? Which toys should be grouped? Asking yourself these questions will help you create a vision for the room. If you have trouble visualizing the room in its organized glory, try one of the online virtual room programs or tools recommended by Freshome.

Step 2: Involve Your Kids

You can’t truly declutter until you sort your stuff. That’s where your kids come in. I know it’s hard to get kids to part with toys, but you need to involve them if you are going to declutter in a way that suits everyone.

Fortunately, Erin Spain has a tremendous success story about using the 20 toy role with her children. The key is to give your kids time to sort through their prized possessions and come to a decision about which 20 items to keep. Another key is setting some ground rules: Erin recommends that Legos, art supplies, blocks, books, and sentimental items don’t count toward the 20.

Step 3: Get the Necessary Supplies

Once you have an idea of what you will need to organize, you will know which storage containers and shelves to acquire. Make sure that your storage containers are accessible for your kids and that you anchor large bookshelves or other pieces of furniture to the wall for safety. Clear plastic bins are ideal so the kids can see what is inside.

You also could repurpose an old television stand or dresser and remove the doors and add shelving for extra storage space. HGTV shares some genius organization and storage ideas that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Step 4: Make Decluttering a Game for Your Kids

Okay, now comes the under 30 minutes part of the decluttering. Trust me – the preplanning time was worth it. Once you’ve visualized an organized room, had your kids sort their toys, and acquired the necessary supplies, you are ready to declutter your playroom. Get the kids involved by making it a game; it won’t be quite as fun as snapping your fingers and having the toys march to their proper locations like Mary Poppins, but it will be a game nevertheless.

Start by showing your kids what each container, shelf, and basket should hold and where each container belongs. Then, ask each child to guess how long it will take to declutter the playroom. Record their guesses.

When everyone is ready to begin and understands what the playroom should look like when they’re done, set a timer and start decluttering. The whole family can work together the first time, and parents and older siblings can help and encourage younger family members. When the room looks like your vision, check the time and see whose guess was correct.

Keep your kids motivated to keep the playroom neat and tidy by pointing out how much easier it is for them to find their toys and items. Talk about how picking up gives them a sense of pride in their space and makes them responsible toy owners. Continue to be a good role model by decluttering the rest of your home and setting an expectation for an organized home.

You can tackle the beast that is your playroom. Armed with a plan, commitment from your kids, and supplies, you can create an organized space that invites your kids to play and that they can declutter in under 30 minutes. Encourage continued decluttering by setting an expectation for an organized space.

Ken Lyons
Ken Lyons is one of the founding members of Cleaner Digs. He is also the senior editor and contributing author. Ken has owned and operated two cleaning companies in the past: one commercial and one that serviced residential customers. He writes for Clean Digs to share his professional expertise on cleaning and organization. He's been a fastidious cleaning nut and writing about it for more than a decade.