Spring cleaning: day seven

Today’s area to tackle are the kids’ rooms. There will be lots of variations for this, as each family is so different – depending on how many kids you have, their ages, and how their living arrangements are set up, this could take you an hour, or it could take you days.

And as a side note – I want you to know that yesterday, I told my husband that I was getting weary from all the cleaning and decluttering. He was such an encouragement to me, cheering me on to keep at it, and to keep encouraging you all to finish the job. I felt renewed (though still physically tired), so I am indeed determined to finish this hard work in my own home. So be encouraged if you’re starting to peter out. I’m right there with you! The purpose of this Spring Cleaning Party is accountability, encouragement, and a little fun, and we’re nearing the end. Keep at it!

The main areas of potential clutter chaos in a kid’s room are:

• clothes,
• books,
• arts and craft supplies, and
• toys

Because each family’s home set up is so unique, I’m going to focus on these areas, rather than on individual rooms. If your kids have their own rooms, feel free to focus on one child at a time, rather than on a particular source of clutter.


As home economists, it’s easy to hold on to clothes – a frugal spirit means handing them down to younger children, letting kids wear them as long as possible, and buying used. When you find a great deal on kids’ clothing, it’s wise to buy and store for the future.

But this can so easily get out of hand. The best prevention is to not let needless items pass through your home’s threshold from the beginning. Before buying kids’ clothes just because they’re cheap, ask yourself:

• Does my child really need this?

• Does he already have something similar to this?

• Am I likely to find a similar deal later, especially if the item is too big for my child right now?

• Is there a chance this type of item will come my way in some other form (such as a gift from grandparents, or as a hand-me-down from a friend)?

Don’t just pick up items because they’re cheap. They’re not cheap if you don’t need them in the first place. Read more about thrift store shopping tips.

Once you have the kids’ clothes you need, it’s important to keep them organized, or else they’ll explode into a cacophony of craziness. Make sure and sort by size and season – there’s no reason to keep your wool sweaters out in July.

Keep clothes your kids don’t need right now out of sight, well labeled in boxes, and easily accessible for the near future. That means that the only clothes folded in drawers and hung in the closet are for this current season, for this current size. If they’re in between sizes, it’s okay to hang the next size up as well. Just be sure to take away the smaller size as soon as they outgrow it.

And if you think your family has all the children you’ll be blessed with, then don’t hang on to clothes once the youngest has outgrown them. If they’re in good condition, donate them to charity, or resell them at a children’s consignment shop.

If you find yourself sentimental and reluctant to part with the baby clothes (“Were they really this small?”), pick your three favorites and donate the rest. Think of it as getting more life out of the clothes you loved. Some other darling baby will enjoy your child’s adorable outfit.


books after 01

I already showed you our book collection, housed in the living room. Children’s books used to be in our playroom, but we recently moved everything into one larger reading nook for the whole family. We did this for several reasons:

I like keeping like things with like. It makes it easier to know where things belong.

• The grownups can more easily make sure books are well taken care of and organized properly. Books are really important to me – they’re not just a plaything, in my opinion – and I’m so thankful my mom saved most of my childhood books that my kids now enjoy. If I want my kids to be blessed with the same privilege for their kids, books need to stay in good condition. This doesn’t mean they can’t love the books, and that the kids need to tiptoe around our library as though it’s a museum, but I want them to treat books as more than just a toy.

I want my kids to think of reading as something different than playing. Yes, it’s fun, and yes, it’s a great past time. But reading cultivates a spirit of lifelong learning, and I want them to treat the art of reading with dignity. Keeping kids’ books next to the grownup books will further foster a spirit of reading as a gift to be enjoyed their entire life. Plus, where do you keep The Chronicles of Narnia? We all enjoy it.

I share my thoughts on holding on to books, and what constitutes children’s book twaddle, in my e-book. I also compiled a list of some of my favorite twaddle-free books for preschoolers, and in the near future, I plan to write another post of more to add to the list.

Our Kids’ Room

Our two kids are young, and we’ve divided the two rooms into a playroom and a bedroom. So today, I tackled their bedroom.

I removed winter and too-small clothes from their drawers and wardrobe, and stored them in a Rubbermaid action packer dedicated to past and future clothing. These are housed in our home’s one closet. I then added the rest of their summer clothes to the bedroom.

I organized my son’s cloth diapers and diapering accessories – I keep this area pretty well-maintained anyway, so I just removed the items, wiped down the shelves, shuffled a few things around, and set it back up.

reed's diapers

I changed the sheets on their beds, dusted and mopped, and removed clutter that belongs in the playroom (to be tackled tomorrow).

before: after:
kids bedroom before kids bedroom after
before: after:
kids bedroom before kids bedroom after
before: after:
kids bedroom before kids bedroom after

Our kids’ walls usually aren’t this boring and bare, but we’re having their room painted soon, so I don’t want to hang new artwork only to take it down again in a few weeks. I’ll show you our art when I do the series on creative, frugal, handmade art ideas.

Our stroller stays tucked away in an over-the-door holder from MetroTots:

stroller storage

Alright, now it’s your turn to declutter, clean, and organize your kids’ rooms!

As mentioned in the e-book, do what you can to get your kids involved in this process today. Help them experience, hands-on, the value of getting rid of needless clutter, and of giving to those less fortunate.  Mandi has some great tips on how to involve your kids in the organizing and decluttering process.

How do your kids handle getting rid of their own stuff?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. We just sold a good bit of clothing at a yard sale this past weekend. Just like you noted, I held onto a few of the nicer pieces, but found that even after I sold nearly $100 (at $1 per item) worth of clothing, I’ve still got more that I know what to do with.

    Clothes so easily get out of hand for us, with hand me downs and new purchases. I’ve enjoyed Tightwad Gazette’s encouragement to sort clothes into ‘Give/Sell/Soak/Store’ boxes as I sort the laundry each time. I’m trying to implement this more regularly so that I don’t have to do the bulk clean out.

    Thanks for the encouragement to keep decluttering.

    Nicole´s last blog post…The Truth is a River

  2. Tsh, thank you so much for your personal encouragement to keep on going! It has been a long 7 days of cleaning, but my home looks and feels so much better!
    Here is my post today: http://www.organizing-life.com/spring-cleaning-kids-bedrooms/
    I am also guest posting about Feng Shui Tips for Kids’ Bedrooms at Mom to 3 Boys and a Dog. .
    My children only sleep in their bedrooms and we do day-time activites elsewhere so I really only had to tackle their wardrobes (which I actually did a few weeks ago.) What a CHORE. But, the summer stuff is out, and all those mittens are packed away.
    My children are too young to really understand what it means to give something up. I did however, have my son pack up 25 of his small cars last year to give to our Adopt-a-church-family for Christmas. He did this willingly as I explained that he should give some of his cars to another little boy who has none, and he even included a hand-drawn picture. I don’t know how much penetrated, but I still feel it is good to start teaching them early.
    Happy Cleaning everyone!

  3. I finally got some cleaning done in my daughter’s room. My big issue with her room is clothing. I did switch out her too small winter clothes and brought out her bigger summer clothes. I can’t believe how many clothes we have to pack away. It’s amazing how easily all the clothes accumulate. For now we’re storing the too small clothes because we hope to have another child, but hubby and I have already agreed that if we don’t have another in the next 2 years all the baby stuff we’ve stored will go. My attic is getting full (and it was empty before I had a child).

    You can see my progress here.

  4. Tsh, we have Bible study this morning so I may not make the Party today … but I am READY to get the child’s room done! It is the hardest room for me. I put pics of her room on my blog on day one to prove to my sil that her children’s rooms simply cannot be worse than my daughter’s!

    So, I’ll be joining this particular party game tomorrow but be sure I will be joining with great enthusiasm and determination!!

    Happy Cleaning to all!

  5. I have a big project today with the girls’ rooms today! I too am becoming weary from all this cleaning but it has definitely been worth it!

    It has added a lighter feeling to the rooms and is a much easier clean-up when the clutter has been removed!!

    The Purple Heart will be happy to see me coming at the end of this week! Plus, I’ve made $72 from selling old unused games on Half.com!

    Olivia @ Moomama´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning the Bathrooms!

  6. I really lost my cleaning mojo yesterday as well. My three kiddos kept interrupting and I was getting really irritated with them. I finally decided I needed to let the cleaning go for the day. The idea is that spring cleaning should BLESS my family, but if it ends up making me frustrated and angry with them – that goes against the point.

    So I’m going to try again today and we’ll see how it goes.


    steadymom.com´s last blog post…What Do You Think?

    • thanks Jamie, i really needed what you shared today.

    • Wow! you reminded me of my mom! When my brother was a toddler (he was 3 yr older than me), my mom had a collection of porcelain clowns. One day he broke one and my mom got so mad that suddenly she had a mommy reflective moment. Was it worth to be that mad because of a clown figurine? with a baby that doesn’t know better? NO! So immediately she childproof all the house and never had a collection again neither fights with us for breaking things! 🙂 That was her first advice when I became a mommy! 🙂 Kids are more important that anything we have or do!

      What happened to me was not with spring cleaning but with WORK! My advice for next time. If you have something really important to do, divided it in smaller tasks and have lots of activities for them to do meanwhile. It has worked for us! 🙂 Plus you will feel you are accomplishing something!

      lvlc @ FromMomToMom´s last blog post…Starting Seedlings Again!

  7. Girl, today just happens to be our weekly bedroom cleaning. But, after reading this I am going to TRULY de-clutter and not JUST pick-up things:) I know my kid have too many things in their drawers and in their closets. I must let go of some things to get rid of the clutter! Thanks for the tips and the encouragement this morning!
    You go girl!
    Seriously, I would not have a clean kitchen right now w/o you doing this “party.”
    Now, we’re about to have clean bedrooms!

    Nikki´s last blog post…Mother’s Day 2009

  8. I’m excited about the kids room because I just recently tackled the clutter so it won’t be too hard. We are big on books too, and the kids have lots of them. I try to encourge the kids to agree with giving things to someone less fortunate and I also tell them if they want to bring in new books they need to make room for them. My son is awesome about giving, he’s the first to start looking through his things to give. My daughter on the otherhand, likes to hang on to everything! I usually just get rid of things I know they havn’t used without telling them…like those little toys from fast food and B-Day Parties. The one thing I have to do is the toy box…..this should be fun.

  9. I’m trying to play catch up today. I finally got the bathroom done now I’m moving into the kids room. I know I have a lot of clothes to sort through and I’m not looking forward to it. We also want to finally move our 8 month into his crib (he’s been in a bassinet by our bed and he’s getting way too big for it – it’s time!) The closets in the kids rooms really need to be tackled but I may save that for another day ( a project for my hubby maybe??). Well, off I go!

    Donna S´s last blog post…Spring Cleaning Day 6 – The Bathroom

  10. Our 4 yr old does pretty well, but there are still times I’ll tackle the toys + clothes without him around 😉 Our boys share a room now so it’s imperative that we keep things as simple as possible!

    Angie @ The Creative Mama´s last blog post…Overcoming the “White Wall Woes”.

  11. VeggieMomma says:

    I’ve been following and your posts have already gotten me to clear my pantry. I knew I had to tackle it, but in the back of my head I was thinking “I’m not really going to ever get around to doing this”, but I did it!! Now, this post has really gotten me revved to do my little boy’s room. We moved in three months ago and his room is so plain and boring and unorganized. I’m going to try and make it a special place for him. Thanks!

  12. We took every book in the house (we’re talking thousands) and moved them up to our attic and made a library. Best. Project. Ever.

    Writer Dad´s last blog post…Black and White

  13. We’ve had house guests since the beginning of the Spring Cleaning Party, so I’ll have to begin after they’ve left, but this series has certainly gotten me motivated. Perhaps somone has already touched on this, but I have a question for all of you with toddlers and younge r babies. What do you do with them for two weeks while you’re cleaning? My son is 18 months old and can’t exactly be involved in the cleaning. My husband works full time and isn’t home until 5:30, and we can’t afford a babysitter or even a mother’s helper for two weeks… Suggestions?

  14. Hanna – I don’t know about all the cleaning, but I’ve often found that with my 19 month old, it works really well to sort through things while he’s awake, because he likes to look at the objects too. You do have to adjust your method a bit (i.e. put “sorted/organized” items out of their reach once it’s done so that they can’t dismantle your work), but usually it works well.

    My son is also too young to really be aware that we’re getting rid of stuff, so we’ll see how that goes once he gets a bit older. I think at least I want to emphasize gaining space vs. losing things. But I’m sure it will be a challenge.

  15. I appreciated your post this morning. I am feeling tired too! When I headed towards your site this morning, I thought “please don’t have us clean our kids rooms today. I am too tired to tackle them today”. Sure enough, I will be tackling my boys rooms. I have 4 little boys so the task can often seem dauting. I am headed in their with a big trash bag & my give away box. Thanks for the encouragement this morning, I sure needed it. I feel like I can do this today :-)! Have a happy Tuesday!

  16. There are so many great ideas here, thank you! When we cleaned out the boys rooms we passed books, toys and clothes on to cousins. Now if we can keep it cleaned. : )

    Laura´s last blog post…Create Cards With Custom Font

  17. CarrieK says:

    My kids only sleep in their rooms; we have a playroom off the kitchen for them to do their puzzles, artwork, trains etc. I tackle the kids rooms (and the playroom) twice a year when I participate in a children’s consignment sale. During the rest of the year, I collect clothes that don’t fit (right out of the dryer and onto a hanger for the sale) and toys that seemed neglected. I am not a big fan of stuffed animals and I often make my kids pick 3-5 animals to get rid of. I swear those things reproduce overnite! My daughter’s 6th birthday is coming up and we are copy catting an idea from one of her school buddies; instead of each child bringing a gift for my daughter, every child is bringing a used toy, wrapped, to exchange with each other. We will loose/gain one toy as will the other families. (I’m also having everyone bring food for us to take the the local food bank.) As my kids get older, it’s getting easier to get them to give things away. But I have been working with them for a while. They see me give things to Goodwill, and we talk about how we need to share with others because we are blessed with soooo much. I think giving to others is an ongoing conversation and a way of life.

  18. Is your crib from Ikea? If so, how do you like it? I’m thinking of craigslisting my expensive (and big) crib and getting a straight-forward deal from Ikea, but am worried the quality just won’t cut it.

    danica´s last blog post…the boys

    • I love my Ikea crib, and find it sturdier than other big box store options.

    • I love our crib! We had a different one in the States, obviously, and I think this Ikea one is better than that one – and it’s already secondhand, bought from a friend. It’s very sturdy, and compact, too So… I say get it! 🙂

  19. I make my kids declutter about two times/year. Sometimes they feel like I’m going overboard (maybe I am). It is always easier for them when things are passed on to someone they know and who wants them. Some families in our neighborhood are having a garage sale this summer and my kids are motivated to find stuff to make a few bucks on $$$ We have tons of clothes passed down to our 3 yr old daughter and I continually go through her clothing and pack bags to pass on to another family at church. My older daughter also has more than enough clothes (almost all second-hand) and convincing her to pare down is another matter altogether! She LOVES clothing.

  20. well, it turns out all this spring cleaning is rather timely, as we found out earlier today that my husband is losing his job here in Italy, in 4 weeks. SO as of today, my spring cleaning will also be packing. Thank goodness I have a spotless kitchen/living room/bathroom right now!

    Is there a simple mom guide to packing up ?

  21. What a timely cleaning project! I’ve been working on cleaning out my little girl’s dressers and focusing on *keeping* it simple from here on out. 🙂


    Anna´s last blog post…Swagbucks

  22. This is how I do my toy’s organization.
    But one thing we have noticed lately… Because he is getting bigger we have let him have more than 10 toys and now he is using 3 little boxes… BIG MISTAKE! He can’t keep with them. The system works out as it is… so we might go back to the basics of it again…

    lvlc @ FromMomToMom´s last blog post…Starting Seedlings Again!

  23. wow, i cant believe you’re already in the kids rooms! I’m still finishing up with the kitchen! Its been 8 LONG days for me, but just the simple knowledge that a few hundred other women out there are also tackling there home including you Tsh is an inspiration in itself! I havent yet uploaded any photos onto my blog (due to a lack of time) but i hope to do so soon! I’ve been in on this the whole way so far, infact i’ve never done such a full on clean up in all my life i think! I’m a very organised person, i have a small home, two little kiddies both under two, im a minimalist and yet i still seem to be lagging behind the rest of you! But boy do i enjoy the clean feeling that is flowing through our home! My husband and I are having a lot of fun! and although we dont know you tsh, you are a big part of our conversations and ‘life’ now! 🙂 You have been ever since simple mom began. We love you, and thank you for all your words of wisdom!
    Amy Salinger

  24. Very good tips! I love getting inspired to organize. My favorite tip for clothing is to utilize Space Bags. They shrink the clothes down, protect them, and you can still put them in a labeled bin or slap a sticker on them.
    I also put all my girls’ hair clips on a strip of ribbon and hang them in the bathroom for when we are getting ready in the morning.

  25. This felt SO good to do! My kids have a tendency to maintain their own rooms and playroom, so sweeping through and decluttering was really great. I have lots of before and after pictures on today’s post:

  26. I’m so glad some of you were feeling burned out, now I don’t feel so bad. But again, another great day. My daughter did such a great job helping and she even got rid of things that surprised me. And she may have been even happier than I was that her room was clean and organized.


  27. The toys are the hardest for us. They want to keep everything. So I narrowed it down to what they play with the most and anything plastic cheap happy meal toys and broken toys went to the garbage.


    • Oh my gosh Rana, I have the same problem with my son and all his toys. all the little cheapie plastic toys are beginning to overwhelm me. I MUST do something soon.

      I absolutely love all the before and after pics. With Spring 2011 fast approaching, this post has given me some inspiration!

  28. I took a day off from cleaning today, I had Ikea furniture to build…but I will be tackling one child’s room tomorrow, I think my youngest, since I am picking up yet more Ikea stuff this weekend for the other 2 boys’ rooms.

    Thanks again for the inspiration! And to answer your question…my kids are 11, 13 and 15, so they are pretty good at organizing and getting rid of un-needed items in their rooms…with some gentle (and sometimes not so gentle!) reminders from me 🙂 They generally do all the cleaning in their own rooms, but I step in every 4 weeks or so and do a more thorough job.

    Laurie´s last blog post…Corner office with a window

  29. I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but I am still plugging along. New furniture unboxing has gotten us off track in some ways and on track in a lot of others.


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