March 29, 2021

Ask Margaret - How Can I Get My Kids to Get Rid of All the Stuff?


One of the greatest obstacles to keeping our houses in order is the sheer amount of stuff that arrives on a daily basis. Kids have a hard time letting go of things, but moms have a hard time having their houses filled with endless clutter!

This week Jennifer asks:

How do I help my kids (10 and 12 years old) get rid of all the stuff? We have so many toys and books and cardboard creations. They want to keep everything. EVERY. THING. I’ve tried getting them involved in picking stuff to donate to those less fortunate, and they just absolutely flat out refuse.

We've all had the experience of trying to get rid of a long-neglected toy, only to have our kid announce suddenly that it is their most beloved possession ever!

Four things to do to cut down on "the stuff" are:

  • Cut it off at the source: limit the amount of items coming in to your house by limiting purchases, and taking pictures of school projects instead of saving them.
  • Hold a firm line: decide before you begin a clean up that for every four things you keep, one must go.
  • Cull when they're not around: When you are cleaning without your kids around, you are allowed to get rid of things like cars with broken wheels and forgotten Happy Meal toys without asking permission.
  • Limit collections: Everyone is the family is allowed two, not twenty.


Your kids' strong feelings about their stuff does not mean they get to make all the decisions about what remains in your house. It's okay for parents to enforce rules that make your living situation more pleasant for everyone involved.

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