What To Do With Your Messy Child


So what do you do if your child is messy and you fear their future as a star on the show “Hoarders”? First be realistic. Is it really that bad or are you just imagining it? Second, start being proactive in a loving way. When your children are young, that is the time to start working on them and creating the skills necessary to learn what is special and should be kept and what is ok to take a picture of and let go. Let’s be honest, we can’t keep every piece of paper that little Johnny colors on and brings home from Pre-K. There is going to be years of paper coming in. Figure out now what to keep and what is ok to go in the recycling bin. Remember my test of “does it bring a tear to your eye?” If it does, then keep it. If it does not, then toss it.


Not only do they have papers that are brought home but they also have their possessions that are stored in their room and sometimes all over the house. So often when I work with client’s they are terrified to throw* anything of their child’s away. I am not sure where this fear comes from, but parents everywhere, I give you permission to start to throw your kid’s stuff away. I am talking about gum wrappers, broken bracelets, one earring without a mate. torn books, pieces of half scribbled on paper and toys they no longer play with. I am not telling you to get rid of their prized possessions, simply the junk and clutter in their room that surround them. Work with your children to figure out what they value most, and listen to them…..really listen.


This is my concern, if you don’t teach children now while you are living with them what is of value and what is not of value when will they learn it? Will you be visiting their first apartment and have to move the pile of clothes that they don’t wear off of the couch before you can sit down. Will you go into a bathroom filled with beauty products where only a handful are used?


Interesting enough when I have the children working with me, guess who is okay with getting rid of the stuff? It is true, it is the child. What I often hear is a mom saying, “but that this the stuffed animal that uncle Alan got you on your first birthday?” I hear the parent trying to talk the child into keeping the object. Who has the problem with clutter I wonder….the pack rat kids or the sentimental parent?


This lesson became laser focused on me when my husband and I were watching a youtube video from one of my boys’ favorite videos when they were young. My husband and I were laughing and saying how we couldn’t believe how much our boys loved that video. Both of our older boys looked at us and said they didn’t remember it at all. Then it dawned on me…..it was my memory of the video and the good times we had while watching it….it was not their memory.


So ask yourself when helping your children declutter, whose memory is it anyway? Learn how to give with purpose and show your children that when they drop off a load of clothes and toys to a battered women’s shelter it is going to have a direct impact on a child. Chances are your kids will step up and do the right thing….will you?


And as a reminder, tell those well meaning grandparents to start to give the gift of experiences, and not stuff. Pay for the dance lessons that Susie has been dreaming of taking. Or the drum lessons that Molly has wanted. Chances are the gift of experience will stay with them much longer than a gift of clothing will.


*I use the term throw loosely here. Please know that I encourage recycling in every form and I encourage my clients to do so as well.


To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/

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