The kids get their purge on

I’ve been a busy busy girl these last couple of days. Every year before Christmas I like to do a massive purge of all three kid’s rooms. I get the two big kids (12 and 10) set up in each of their rooms concentrating on one area at a time. I then move between the two rooms giving them guidance as needed.

For instance we started with their bookshelves and I said to them “go through your books and put aside any that you won’t read again or like”. So they got to work and I was really impressed at how well they did. In fact maybe too well. There were a few moments where I wanted to say, “This one? Are you sure?” because some of those books that were making their way to the “to go” box were some of my favorites (Judy Blume anyone?) from when I was a kid.

But my favorites don’t need to be their favorites.

I held my tongue because I want them to learn to make their own decisions. I want them to keep what they use and love and nothing else because after all it’s just stuff. To learn that lesson now rather than when they’re adults living in homes filled with clutter that they can’t bear to part with.

No I don’t want that for them.

My job is to facilitate the PROCESS. To walk them through the steps and help set up organized systems that work for them. We’ve been doing this since they were little and each time it gets easier and easier. They make up their minds faster and they know to work within their boundaries and limits. They have a better understanding of what it means to own stuff but not let that stuff own them.

Our “to go” pile:


I’m very proud of my kids. They were tough this go around. More so than any other time I think.   We were all exhausted when it was done but it was so worth it and the lessons learned are what mattered the most.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”  Matthew 6: 19-21
Filed under: Bedroom, Kid Stuff, Organizing, Purging


36 Responses to The kids get their purge on

  1. 1
    DawnJoy says

    Way to go kids!!!

    We need to do this soon too. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. 2
    Coco says

    WOW that is impressive! It must make you proud to see what they are learning from you and all your hard work

  3. 3
    [email protected] says

    The kids and I were just talking today about our annual toy purge coming soon. Boy, do we ever need it!

  4. 4
    Tanna @ Complete Organizing Solutions says

    Wow that’s a lot of stuff! We purge pretty regularly, then hubby puts it in the attic for the next yard sale. We do one once a year and live in a community that is good for yard sales. Otherwise it would get donated right away!

    I have to go through the toys one more time when my younger kids are gone. I have two sets of toys I know don’t get played with but the resistance will be high. My daughter doesn’t understand the purging yet, unless something is broken.

    I bought a plastic doll house for her at a yard sale for $4, this year Santa is bringing her a real one with all the accessories. The plastic one has to go!

  5. 6
    Laura says

    It’s definitely nice to see years of hard work training them finally paying off…whew 🙂

  6. 7
    Heather says

    Wow, that’s great. I’ve been thinking I want my kids to get rid of some toys before Christmas gets here! My kids are only 4 and 6, but I think they should be able to come up with at least 5 (I’m hoping for 10-15) toys they can donate.

  7. 8
    Laura says

    Asking for a set amount is a great idea Heather.

  8. 9
    Jen Wilson says

    I totally need to do that. Badly. I went through the girls’ room myself, but there’s a lot more that can go that they choose to let go of. Perfect idea for before Christmas!!

  9. 10
    Ally0005 says

    I’ve been in the middle of cleaning out for weeks now. I tried to get my kids involved but they wanted to keep more than give away. I’m hoping to finish up next week.

  10. 11
    purple moose says

    I *know* this is a good idea, but I’m a pack rat. I can’t bear to part with stuff!!! OK, I should do it next week. For real! I mean it!

  11. 12
    Rebecca says

    How great! I love that you’re teaching them how and not doing it for them.

  12. 13
    Kim says

    Wow! You continue to inspire me and leave me thinking….”She is so smart, I want to be like her!”
    I love what you are teaching your kids – you should be very proud of the work you are doing in such a concrete way to make them responsible adults. I am try try trying to keep on track although most times it feels like 1 step forward 2 steps back – I look forward to the day that it will be the reverse of that.
    thank you friend! Love K.

  13. 14
    Rhen @yestheyareallm says

    A few of our children have recently discovered purging, and they love it. The littles and the bigs are seeing the value in it. My 12 (almost 13) year old told me the other day that she finally figured out how much better she feels when her room is clean, her stuff is organized and she can see her bed.
    I am so proud! Now if only I can get the middle ones to get on board.

  14. 15
    Joyce says

    Good for them! and you too!

  15. 16
    VickiS~FL says

    What a wonderful lesson to teach children and to know that it isn’t difficult for them to purge “stuff” and to give to those less fortunate.

  16. 17
    darcie says

    I’ve been doing this too – only – I am on the side that asks the kids…”that? are you SURE?”
    there are some things that I want to keep forever and ever –
    sesame street stuffed animals, etc – but that doesn’t mean my poor kids have to keep them in their rooms looking at them when they are clearly ready to give them away!
    it’s a tough process!

  17. 18
    Organising Queen says

    Oh, that makes me so happy, seeing all that stuff. You must be so, so proud of them.

  18. 19
    Allison says

    Wow Laura! That’s amazing. I have a real problem with that…. keeping things too long. My kids don’t want them anymore but I can’t bear to part with them because they were things I really wanted when I was a kid.

    I really want to start up a routine like this with my kids. I’m definately NOT a hoarder, but I can see the tendancies in my already. 😛

    I’ve saved your post on how to help kids get rid of clutter, and we’re going to do this before Christmas.

    Thanks again for your amazing ideas!

  19. 20
    Candace says

    Just had to let you know that the “my favorites don’t need to be their favorites” really struck me! That’s so true and I never thought of that. We have some friends that are having a garage sale so we had a pretty big purge just to give the stuff to them and out of our house!

  20. 21
    Chelsey says

    I just did this with my kids 4, 6, and 8. It worked awesome. Now they just have books and stuffies in their rooms, and it feels sooo much better. They love it because cleaning their room now is not such a chore. I always get nervous about all the ‘stuff’ they are about to get at Christmas time(we have a small house) but now we have room for some stuff to come in. Yay!

  21. 22
    Kelli says

    Wow! I am so impressed! Maybe when my boys get 10 and 12 they will be more inclined to get rid of stuff. 🙂 I think I am worse than them, I save everything for the little one. I always try to purge before Christmas, too but it just hasn’t happened yet.

    I have been so busy with other things that I have let housework slip to the wayside.

  22. 23
    Sandy Watts says

    How do you get a HUSBAND to purge? Worse pack rat I’ve ever seen!! He makes me feel guilty for trying to clear stuff out even if he never uses it! I like to be able to see the room and the table, etc. He wants everything at his fingertips!! HELP!!

  23. 24
    Liz Jenkins says

    We do this several times a year, mostly due to the teeny size of our house, but my daughter is pretty good. You are so right about letting them make their choices – I had to bite my tongue so many times – noooo, I love that one. Of course, with my daughter’s personality if I would even hint that I liked something, it’d be gone. Which has actually worked in my favor a few times – reverse psychology anyone?

  24. 25
    Terry says

    I do the same thing with my kids but it’s hard with my daughter….she is a pack rat and she is only 6! She takes after her grandmother who collects everything. It’s so hard to get her to give anything up so I have to do her purging when she is not there. 🙁

  25. 26
    Susanne says

    That is my big downfall. The “oh, that one?” question. But you’re right. My favorites are not necessarily theirs and I would do well to remember that. My son is not bad at the purge but my daughter is like me, finds it hard to let go of some stuff.

  26. 27
    Martha says

    Lovely idea!

  27. 28
    Beth says

    Congratulations on a job well done. I started doing purges twice a year several years ago, both before Christmas & all 4 of my children’s Bdays which happens to fall in Spring/Summer. It’s important both in clutter control and simplifying (our lives more than anything else). I too don’t want my children to have the burden of being emotionally attached to things so I help them along the way letting them go through the necessary steps to get there. It’s important in this society of “the more you have, the better you are”.

  28. 29
    Michelle says

    Thank you so much for making that verse come alive. It’s so easy to forget that our stuff really is just stuff. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return.” What a good mom you are to teach your kids such important lessons!

  29. 30
    Shawnee in Oregon says

    IMPRESSIVE! I have a hard time of letting go of “stuff” and this is the time to do it. My 10 yo’s room really needs help, too.

  30. 31
    Becky L says

    I down sized a little bit when a co-worker’s son’s class had a rummage sale earlier this month. Well they are having one in January. I think I need to go thru the stack of stuff in my bedroom and get rid of it and find places for the rest.
    Working on my quilt today to send out for Christmas!!

  31. 32
    NerdMom says

    See, mommy has the problem. While I am perfectly cool with them each giving up what they don’t want, I have a problem. I have 4 kids that are 8, 6, 4, and 2 (boy, girl, boy, girl). So I struggle with donating the 8 year old’s toys (or any of the older 3) because I know that the younger ones want them desperately. So figuring out how to purge is really hard.

  32. 33
    Rebecca says

    What do you do with toys when you purge them? We just had to throw out a whole bunch of toys, I felt so wasteful, because when we took them to Salvation Army and Goodwill they said nobody buys used toys because new toys are so cheap! I don’t live in a spot where we can have yard sales.

  33. 34
    Cassie says

    I noticed you have older children. I am assuming you did this when they were young, and that is probably why they have done so well!! Do you have any suggestions for how to do this with a 3 year old? I tried just swiping a few toys every now and then and packing them away for a yard sale, but he started asking “Mommy, where is my ____?”. I didn’t want to lie to him, so I told him I had pack them away. His little heart was broken! So I decided maybe it would be best to have him involved, so there aren’t any surprises. But….how to do that?! He wants to keep everything!!

  34. 35
    Angelica says

    Wow Laura,

    You are a good mum. I remember watching my sister telling my kids to throw all the “junk” away from their rooms once. It wasn’t a very tense environment though but my nephew and niece were pulling such long faces…

  35. 36
    Brad says

    Wow, I’m really impressed by you getting your kids to throw out some of their stuff. It’s a really great lesson to teach young people. I found that when we told our kids that some of the stuff they didn’t use anymore, toys and things, were going to charity they gave up more things.


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