How To Declutter With Kids – Super Quick & Simple Tips

how to declutter when overwhelmed

For our family, memories mean clutter. We tend to keep items way past the usable life because we attach sentimental value to just about everything! Especially kids’ clothes (remember when he wore this for the first time? remember when she… – and on and on). When you add toys, books, and other random household items, getting rid of all that clutter can become a big job! In this post, I want to share with you some quick, simple tips for decluttering (and a few reasons why it’s important). 

My Journey To A Clutter-Free Life

I used to keep all the greeting cards people gave me – made and bought. When I was much younger, I enjoyed reading them over and over. As I got older they were really only taking up space but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them. No matter where we moved, I carried this kind of sentimental stuff with me. I ended up having so much stuff that I had to store things at my mom’s house when our family was moving. 

Then one particularly rainy Sunday there was a really bad flood in the area where my mom lives and we lost everything we had not already collected from her house. It felt as though all of our memories literally just washed away. This forced me to put into perspective just how important (or not) those physical things really were! There are some things I do miss (baby’s first sleeper, for example) but I came to terms with the fact that I placed too much importance on things.

The real investment is in my kids and my relationships with people.

What Does Decluttering Mean? 

Very simply put – removing unnecessary things from your life! These are the things that don’t add value and sometimes even devalue. 

“Unnecessary” is an extremely hard concept to define. Some of us tend to hold on to:

  • things that we have worked hard to buy or received as gifts. 
  • things that remind us of certain events in life. 
  • things that once served a purpose that we no longer really need but we keep “just in case” – these may be gifts or items that cost us a lot of money

Why Is Decluttering Important?

Seeing lots of ‘stuff’ can create and add stress to our lives. It can create a sense of anxiety. Even if all the things aren’t easily visible, just knowing they are taking up so much usable space can cause us to feel heavy or agitated. Conversely, getting rid of things that no longer serve a purpose in our lives can be therapeutic. It can release stress and reduce anxiety. 

According to WebMD and Psychology Today, clutter has adverse psychological and health effects. Not only can clutter trigger anxiety and stress, but it also has the potential to cause fires, dust, and mold. One of the simplest stressors mentioned is difficulty in finding things easily and quickly. Sometimes we don’t even remember we have something and purchase another of the exact same item! This, in particular, has happened to me SO many times. 

Decluttering is, therefore, a form of self-care and self-love.

where to start decluttering when overwhlemed

4 Quick & Simple Tips For Decluttering Fast As a Busy Family

Decluttering with a plan has a huge benefit: it makes the process seem less daunting and minimizes the need to do it all over again in short order. And, when you do need to repeat the process, you’ll already have a system in place.

1. Set goals for each room

Take each room goal and make a very specific plan – I like to break up the room into smaller, more manageable pieces and set the length of time I would spend on it and what I hope to accomplish.  I write down what’s in each space in the room, what I would like to get rid of and how I will get rid of it.

If I’m keeping anything, I write down why I’m keeping it and where I’ll be keeping it. This helps me with accountability and progress tracking. I love to be able to see checkmarks next to my tasks. 

If I don’t complete my task, I assign it for another time to complete it. I may also need to tweak the other goals I’ve set if I need to complete this one first. 

This brings me to prioritisation – I prioritize what I need to get done in order of importance. 

2. Sort

This is the hard part. Define what makes something ‘necessary’ in your life. I like to have 4 sorting sections with large garbage bags or boxes. 

Section 1 – Keep : If I’ve been actively using the item, I keep it. When I’m doing a decluttering exercise and haven’t used an item since the last decluttering, I donate or toss.

Section 2 – Donate : I also like to keep others in mind when I’m sorting things like clothes, handheld appliances and so on. If I haven’t used it in a while – I ask myself if someone can benefit from having the item more than I have. Once my answer is yes, it goes into the giveaway pile. 

I keep clothes for 2 “decluttering cycles” and if we haven’t worn them I donate. Of course, once the kids grow out of clothes we donate. 

Section 3 – Recycle : Similarly, if the item can be recycled, it’s added to this pile.

Section 4 – Discard : If the item is past its usefulness then it goes into the garbage bags in this section immediately. This might seem like the simplest section but it actually requires the most fortitude as you will find many reasons to keep items that end up here.

3. Reorganize 

Once you have your section of items you would like to keep, put them in their new home. 

Sometimes, we eventually realize that even though we have decided to keep an item, we don’t use it – at that point, you can still donate or sell. 

4. Prevent new clutter

With kids, a plan to prevent future clutter is so critical. Every toy is their favorite – even if they haven’t played with it in months! It adds up before you realize it. We have two systems that work really well for their toys:

  1. Toy rotation. This is simply allowing kids to play with certain toys at a time while storing other toys. At intervals, swap the current toys with stored toys. This is an awesomely simple way to not only manage toy clutter but also to allow kids to fully enjoy their toys.
  2. Teaching and involving them in the donation process. They’ve really gotten into this and now they put toys into a give-away box on their own. 

For household items, clothes, and personal items, every few months (most times semi-annually) we try to go through things that haven’t been used in a while and donate. 

6 simple ideas to declutter when overwhlemed

How To Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed – 6 Simple Ideas 

1. Start with small goals for each room or area

  • Break up rooms into sections and start in one section of a room. Don’t move on until that section is complete. and address every single item in the room. 
  • 10 mins a day 
  • Donate one item per day or per weekend
  • Throw one garbage bag each weekend

2. Have a solid plan

  • This helps to provide guidance, stay on track and accountability. 

3. Get the family involved in the sorting, decision making and reorganising. 

  • This will get the job done much faster as you don’t have to attempt to make decisions for anyone else and you have physical help. 

4. Take before and after pictures

  • This goes a very long way in providing continued motivation. When you look at that ‘after’ picture, enjoy the outcome of hard work and be proud of yourself! 

5. Have a more efficient system in place following your decluttering

  • label new storage bins, clearer countertops, put seasonal items in storage. 
Pro Tip: keep an inventory list of items that we’ve stored out of reach. This helps to locate things easily instead of digging, you can search the inventory log and locate it. 

6. Tracking  results

  • One of my favorite all-purpose tips is to track your results. If something isn’t working in its new place, simply move or donate it. Tweak anything with your decluttering process that isn’t working and always strive to improve your processes.



When you’re feeling overwhelmed, start small. Start with one part of a room and work your way around until you’ve completed it. Have a solid plan and let it take as long as you need it to take. It’s better that way than to rush it down and have to redo a big decluttering again in a couple of months or a year.

There are many resources available that provide in-depth ideas of exactly how to declutter and organize each room. It’s worthwhile to check out a few blogs and/or YouTube videos and select your faves. A couple of other blogs that you’re likely to enjoy are Declutter before Christmas and How to Declutter Your Home

I hope you find these quick, simple tips for decluttering useful. Do you have your own decluttering story to tell? Please share in the comments.

33 thoughts on “Super Quick & Simple Tips for Decluttering”

    1. Hi Erin. My advice (from personal experience) is to pace yourself and create small goals. This makes the task a lot less daunting and as you cross things off, it helps with motivation and builds momentum. Most of all, be proud of everything you are able to accomplish (even if you THINK it’s small – it’s more than you got done previously and that’s a reason to celebrate).

  1. I love to declutter and organize! I broke my house up last year and started my decluttering goal. It’s so amazing and freeing. These are great tips, thanks for sharing!

  2. Starting with small goals and taking pictures are great ideas! You aren’t as overwhelmed and who doesn’t love a good before/after pic? Great post!

  3. I’ve noticed that when my house is more cluttered, my anxiety and stress level is a lot higher. I will definitely follow this decluttering plan and stick with it to keep my stress levels down. Great post!

  4. These are great tips! I did a MASSIVE purge of my stuff a few years ago, and I think I need to do it again. But these will help me to stay clutter-free I think!

  5. I’m very clean and organized, but I’m also sentimental. So even though it’s all in order, I know that I keep too much stuff. So this was a good reminder to let go of some things and clear some space in my house.

    1. I’m really happy this post has helped you, Laura. The sentimental aspect of decluttering is particularly difficult – keep at it and it will become easier over time.

  6. I needed this! My husband wants to declutter, but it seems so overwhelming. Your decluttering tips are easy to implement. Thanks!

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