Somebody once said that cleaning the house while kids still live there is like shovelling snow while it’s still snowing. I can attest to this being 100% true. Although I have 0% experience in shovelling snow, I have far too much experience in the soul-destroying activity of cleaning up whilst being followed by mini-mayhem-makers who are happily committed to creating chaos wherever they go.

Attempting to de-clutter a house with kids around is similarly foolish and painful, but if Marie Kondo is to be believed, it is a noble endeavour that will lead to happier homes, happier kids and of course happier grown-ups too.

After all, if there is less stuff to make a mess with, there will be less stuff to tidy up. I don’t know about you, but I’m truly over the clutter in my house. I’m tired of living surrounded by too much stuff, beseiged by missing pieces of toys in random places and taunted by overflowing cupboards and drawers.

Over the past 3 posts in this mini-malism series, I’ve shared how our family is on a journey toward less.  In this final article, here’s how I’ve worked toward taking all the toys and kid-related stuff and making each of my kids feel excited and responsible about their own things and spaces…

What sparks joy?

Just like the acclaimed clutter-free guru herself, I spent time with each of my children, one-on-one, surrounded by their stuff, explaining to them that we were only going to keep the items that really ‘spark joy’. Now ladies, don’t mistakenly think this was all smooth sailing and joyful hugs.

There were definite moments when, if I was truly living by Marie’s sparking joy principal, all my kids (and their alleged father) would have landed on top of the growing pile of black bags on the street. I held back though and in the end, it really did work to involve them in this process.

My 6-year-old daughter is a sentimental hoarder and to be honest, I was nervous she wouldn’t want to give many of her toys away (she had a monstrous pile of hand-me-downs). To my surprise though, she was all-too-happy to clear out the clutter and only keep what she truly cherished. Fortunately – she cherishes tiny shells and miniature things. Small mercies!

Let your kids ‘own’ some space

For my two big boys, their birthday present this year was a revamped bedroom. They got to work with me to choose what paint colours we put on the walls, what furniture we kept or revamped and a few new accessories like duvet covers, light fittings and a bedside rug. We didn’t have a big budget to buy a lot of new stuff, but I repainted furniture, swapped around some blinds and found a FREE desk on gumtree for my youngest. What a win!

Although these projects didn’t turn out to be as cheap or painless as I’d hoped (I spent two whole nights drilling and painting and whisper-swearing), they taught our boys that their room is a gift – their chair, bedside light, rug, duvet cover – these are valuable, carefully chosen things that they need to take care of.

It’s been over 6 months, and both are still so proud of their spaces. And they’ve kept them consistently clean and tidy as a result. Double win!

So here’s to more room, less needless stuff and all the right kind of sparks for all of us.

Written by: Julie William – Lifestyle Editor