My Foolproof Strategy for Decluttering With Kids (Even Adult Kids)

We are currently undergoing renovation of our primary bedroom and bathroom. This required us to move everything from our bedroom into one of our daughters’ bedrooms. This particular daughter now in her mid-twenties, conveniently left home earlier this year.  Adult kids, however, rarely take 100% of their worldly possessions with them.

Said daughter’s room looked exactly like she still lived at home. Her closet burst with clothing, knick knacks strewn around, diplomas on the wall; I think even the TV was still plugged in. How were we going to get her to empty out her room?

Fortunately, I had one trump card to play—my birthday—which was a couple of weeks away.  Most young people, I’ve observed, seem to have more free time than cash. An idea hit me that, honestly, I wish I’d thought of years ago.  I told my daughter the only thing I wanted for my birthday was the gift of her time and together we would declutter her room.

I can’t say I received an enthusiastic response but to her credit, she came over, and together, in an afternoon, we decluttered her entire bedroom and bathroom. Now, you may rightfully be wondering how we accomplished such a mammoth task in the space of a few short hours.  It probably doesn’t hurt that her mom is a professional organizer so here are a few pro tips if you decide to use this strategy yourself:

  1. An excellent poker face. Let your child make the decisions of what to keep and what to let go.  If you chime in with your opinion on each item, you will dramatically increase the time needed, not to mention the tension in the room.
  2. Come prepared. You will need:
  3. 30-gallon clear trash bags for donations
  4. 30-gallon black trash bags for trash
  5. Several small previously used boxes for books and fragile donations
  6. Storage tubs (but hopefully not too many!) for memorabilia. These from Target are my favorite Target Storage Tub but these are even better for long term storage The Container Store Weathertight Tub
  7. Adhesive labels and a permanent marker to label the tubs (make sure you label the top and two sides for easy identification.
  8. Although, this is their gift to you, I recommend only scheduling a certain amount of time. Perhaps just an hour with a very young child and a maximum of four hours with adult kids. If their room is extremely cluttered, you may need to use ‘the gift of time’ strategy for several birthdays, and also include Mother’s Day and Christmas!
  9. Consider scheduling short FaceTime sessions if your adult child no longer lives in the area. Simply reverse the phone screen and tackle one small area at a time.

Let us know how this strategy works for you,
Best of luck!