Trash or treasure?

“But Mummy that’s so very precious to me,” is the response I most frequently get whenever I try to help either of my children clear a bit of space in their bedroom. Their plaintive cry is usually about a broken toy, an invitation to a party they went to six months ago, or a wonky piece of craft from their distant daycare days.

It doesn’t matter how sneaky I think I am being with my de-clutter checklist – do you love it, have you played with it in the last month, would you save it if our house was on fire? – they always answer yes to everything. I have had children hysterically dragging something out of the rubbish bin when I had been on one of my stealth raids. I’m not a minimalist, and veer towards the sentimental when it comes to things like baby teeth and first locks of hair, but I don’t think every single item from childhood needs to be saved.

Toys and clothes they have grown out of get passed on to other children frequently, but it’s the unexpected clutter they won’t part with that seems to keep their bedrooms in a state of chaos. That’s how I found myself tidying up late into the night one evening a week or so ago. Both children were away at camp and it was the perfect opportunity to do some tidying up without feeling like the meanest mummy in the world. I made two piles. One was for the rubbish bin – no second opinion allowed. The other pile went into a box in the basement that  I will keep for one month. If no one notices that anything has been removed from their bedroom, the box will be emptied into the bin. So far I haven’t heard a peep.

I’ve also introduced the Treasure Box rule. Each child gets to have a generous-sized box for their bedroom where they can keep things that are truly precious. Every six months we’ll do an audit, and decide if anything needs to go to make room for new treasures. I also wish I’d discovered the Artkive app sooner.It allows you to take photos of your children’s artwork, catalogue it and even print it into a book if you want to. It stops those feelings of guilt when you have to throw out another masterpiece from your pint-sized Picasso!

What’s your philosophy on keeping your home free of kids’ clutter?