How Does Clutter Affect Your Children?

 

Growing up in a cluttered house can have a big effect on your kids.

When we tend to think about our clutter issues, we mostly think in terms of how it affects us or our spouse.  We don’t often think about how it might be affecting our children.  However, their home environment clearly has an affect on our children.  This can follow them throughout their lives.

We don't think about our children when it comes to clutter. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting.  My mother kept our home pretty well cluttered up but it affected my sister and I completely differently.  I am definitely my mother’s daughter.  I’ve struggled my whole life with clutter issues.  My older sister, however, went into a completely different mode.  Her house is always clutter-free and gorgeous.

On the other hand, my husband was raised by the typical perfectionist mother. He isn’t any better off because she did everything for him.  That way it would always be done to her standards.  So it’s just interesting what different effects our childhood environments had on us.

One thing is undeniable – our childhood environment DID have a very strong effect on us as adults.  So, the message is, what you do today in terms of your home environment with your children MATTERS!

How do you think growing up in a very cluttered and messy home might affect your children?

Sit for just a minute and imagine how your child would have grown up differently in a very tidy and organized home? Regardless of their basic personality, if a child grows up in a house that is kept clean and clutter-free, has regular chores, can always depend on having an organized home where friends can come and play, how is that going to be different from the identical child who grows up without those things?

True confessions time – I had a huge guilt trip when my very brilliant middle son almost didn’t graduate High School.  They literally held his cap and gown HOSTAGE until the very morning of graduation.  He was missing a couple of last-minute assignments. I finally did for him at 1:00 in the morning so he could graduate! He was a great kid, but chronically disorganized.  At one point, he was missing 14 different assignments in just one class.

I have never felt like a worse parent.  I kept thinking if he had been raised by parents who were more organized, his future could have been so different.

He’s newly married and doing wonderfully, but at the time, that really hit me hard and kept me from truly enjoying my son’s graduation.

What you do today in terms of your home environment with your children MATTERS!

The clutter can also affect your child’s mood and behavior.  I’ve often noticed that my youngest son was always so much calmer and cooperative when he was on restriction.  All of a sudden, he doesn’t have the distraction of TV, video games, and Facebook, and while he isn’t thrilled about it, after a while he seems perfectly happy to read books, play with Legos or puzzles, and just generally chill out.

After noticing that, I decided to remove all the toys from his room.  All the toys and games strewn all over everywhere was just overwhelming with him, and sending him in there with orders to “clean up that pigpen” would just push him into a meltdown.

Now that he only has clothes and books in there, it’s a much calmer situation for him and easier to keep clean.  Well, not actually “clean”, but it would be a lot WORSE if he had his toys and games in there also.

The other thing you have to consider is how you are preparing your children for their adult lives?  A child who doesn’t have any regular chores is likely to be an adult who isn’t capable of doing the day-to-day tasks to maintain their home in a liveable condition.  If they are allowed to keep an excess of toys and clothes they are likely to not notice the clutter in their adult life – because that seems like a normal situation for them.

So, if you are struggling to clear out your clutter and deal with your own clutter issues, maybe it might be a big motivator to know that you could be affecting your kids.

Why not try making some simple changes over the next couple of weeks and notice how your child reacts?  Here are some ideas:

  • Remove about 50% of the toy clutter.  If you don’t want to give it away, at least box it up and put it in the basement or garage where they can’t see it.

 

  • Simplify wardrobe choices by removing any out of season or too-small clothes.  Consider laying out clothes for a week at a time.

 

  • Set up a homework station for school-aged kids to keep books and schoolwork orderly and organized for a stress-free morning.

 

  • If your kitchen table is a clutter magnet, work on keeping it clean so you can have dinner at the table as a family.

 

  • Work on getting together a chore routine that works for you and your family.

One resource that has been very helpful to me is a website called MyJobChart.com.  You can set up a custom list of chores, for each child and then set up rewards they can earn from Amazon and other stores or just cash.  It’s been quite helpful for my family.

What ideas do you have for helping to set the example for your children regarding their clutter habits? 

 


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Comments

  1. Did I read this wrong? Did you say that YOU did your son’s missing assignments so he could graduate???

    • Yep it was one in the morning and he had been messing around with it for hours. I wouldn’t have done it for just a regular assignment, but missing his one and only shot to graduate with his class due to one stupid English assignment was a ridiculously harsh penalty.

  2. I especially love your perspective on keeping toys out of kids rooms. I agree that it should be a place to relax and keeping the toys out certainly helps. I think that basic chores are great for kid — even little ones!

    • Yes, definitely. I just watched a documentary that showed Japanese school children who clean their classrooms and their school hallways on a daily basis. It’s such a normal, everyday thing for them and they seem to love it. It teaches them ownership of their space and gives them a great sense of responsibility. I think that is a fabulous way to teach children about the benefits of a routine.

  3. I like keeping toys in the bedroom to a minimum. We all sometimes benefit from a “forced” simplicity. It is similar to keeping unhealthy snacks out of the house – temptation removed!

  4. My cluttery chaos affected my 2 girls in opposite ways. My oldest became a clutter disaster, just like me. My youngest went the opposite way, and is almost anal about keeping a nice house. I’m sad that my mess rubbed off on the oldest.

    • That’s totally my sister and I and to make it worse, she manages to marry the neat freaks. Me, not so much…. On the other hand, I’ve seen how finicky and nitpicky my brother-in-law is. He’s a great guy, but I’d probably murder him in a week!

  5. I’m on the same page with you about clutter. Too much makes them AND me feel overwhelmed. That’s not healthy for anyone. I’m really good about keeping only the current seasonal clothing in the closet. It’s so much easier. Thanks for sharing your tips and advice at Inspire Me Mondays!

    • Me too. When I get the house all nice and clean and get the clutter out of the way, I like my house SO much better! And when Mama is happy, I think it helps the whole family.

  6. I can definitely tell what a difference clutter makes on kids. My daughter’s house is always cluttered and whenever my 6 yr. old granddaughter comes over she always talks about how she feels better over here. She likes it because my house is “cleaner” aka less cluttered.

    • I think it definitely does make a difference and some children are more sensitive to clutter than others. Maybe you could help your daughter create a nice peaceful corner somewhere in her home with a nice rug, soft pillows, and a few books and then watch how much time the little girl spends there. Maybe that will help her to see the difference. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. The affect the clutter has on my son is why I started my organization mission. My daughter has my ability to know where things are in the clutter so she never really has any problems with it.

    My mother was a clean freak. Growing up, every room in our house was spotless except for mine! (I think she gave up on my room.) Books were strewn everywhere. People used to stop by all the time and my mother never had to run through the house like a crazy person to make it look presentable. I want to be at that point lol.

  8. I’m going to check out MyJobChart! Sounds like a winning tool! I also love the idea of laying out the clothes ahead of time. My daughter wears the same shirt twice a week because we do laundry on Wednesdays and she just grabs what’s on top! Great post!

  9. Great post and something I need to take to heart and work on! I am planning to try to get rid of a lot of stuff this summer. After school and the sports season ends, I should have a lot more free time to get it under control. All the clutter makes me a little anxious…I imagine it would be more calming for my kids too if we got rid of a lot of it.

  10. I think clutter makes everyone feel unsettled. It does the same for children. It’s so important to teach them to be organized and to model that for them also.

  11. I agree that clutter affects everyone in the home. When things get extra messy, we are all prone to bad moods and being short with each other. From that state, it is really hard to get things cleaned up because everyone fusses just out of habit! But once things get put away, there is a giant sigh of relief and we have a place to play and snuggle again. My kids are still so little and so we go through this upheaval weekly, sometimes daily. I look forward to them being a little older and calmer! Stopping by from the Mom It Forward community 🙂

  12. Great post! my husband grew up with a hoarder and he is determined to never have a messy house. Order is the only way. thanks for the great tips and thought worthy post.
    Carrie @ Crafty Night Owls
    http://www.craftynightowls.blogspot.com

  13. I really need to box up the winter clothes. My daughter keeps pulling out long sleeved tshirts to wear.

  14. Very interesting. Honestly, I think a lot of it comes down to the personality of the person. Take my family for instance. My mom is very neat, yet I’m not, and neither is one of my sisters. One of my others is almost obsessively clean. Yet, my three other siblings are in the middle.

  15. I think different kids respond differently to clutter. Our house is pretty uncluttered and my husband runs it pretty tightly. I think she actually likes going to her grandparents because there’s an endless supply of things to look at and explore.

    My son collects stuff and it’s a constant battle to get rid of things. However, his personality is one that does better with less. Now’s my chance to do better with a chore routine with him (summer!).

    Blog On
    Janet

  16. I think I was middle of the road when it came to clutter when I was a raising the kids . now, at age 63 I am much neater and more organized . 1 of my grown sons is very neat and the other not so much . they are just very different but thank goodness they are compatible. I think if it gets to the point of chaos it really affects everybody. I do remember making sure the sink was clean. at night after dinner just as a visual lesson I wanted them to have. I’m actually okay with a few, just a few, dishes in the sink. haha .

Trackbacks

  1. […] No one likes clutter but have you ever thought about how clutter is affecting your children? Adrian shares some great perspectives on how clutter affects kids and offers some great solutions for purging, minimizing and organizing to keep a clutter-free home. Learn How Clutter Affects Your Children right here. […]

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