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Emily Ley Blog

Tips & Tricks for Teaching Your Teens How to Declutter

March 15, 2019

Teenagers seem tricky, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous to see what life after twelve years old holds for my household. We see so much guidance in helping our babies be better babies, but advice regarding them growing older doesn’t seem to be in abundance. I’m so lucky I get to watch my dear friend and team member, Dusty, raise her four babies into teenagers and adults. Daily, I’m texting D (or Nana) for tips on how to help my little ones grow into confident young adults who know how to keep tidy and value their possessions!

Dusty’s current season of parenting with young adults reminds me that as much as I want my kids to stay young forever, each year brings even more fun. Several of you may already know Dusty from our Customer Care. She dedicates special time to spend with her “babies” (teenagers & adults), makes the best guacamole, and really does care for all of our people!

D’s Top 3 Tips:

  1. Put it away, don't put it down! Everything has a place on purpose. Use it.
  2. Set guidelines at an early age. This way it is just the way it's always been. Teaching an old dog new tricks applies here as well. Tidy up at night with a fun song or 'who can do it the fastest' and, over time, cleanliness becomes less of a teenage argument point and more of a regular habit.
  3. Hold expectations, not compromises. If you have time for your phone, computer, TV show, etc., then you have time for this.

Team Simplified: Your girls are super organized. How did you teach this habit to them?

D: When our kids were younger, The Sunday Box was a huge tool for teaching organization and the importance of putting things away. If someone left their favorite game, shoes, sweater, necklace, bracelet, what-have-you, where it shouldn't be come evening time, it went in The Sunday Box and they got it back on the following Sunday. No matter what day that fell on. Losing things on a Monday is harder than losing them on Saturday! Of course, books, homework and hygiene items were the only exceptions.

We've never had the, 'you can't go until your room is clean' restriction because their rooms have just always been clean. I attribute this to always keeping their rooms clean from the early years. Have them help with the cleanup and the making of the beds as littles, and then they grow to do these things on their own — and they just like the way it feels because 'it's how it's always been.' My 15-year-old will say she's just less stressed with a clean room — I couldn’t agree more! Starting and ending their days with a clean slate is crucial to a less cluttered mind.

Team Simplified: When your kids were growing up, what were your rules about keeping their artwork, school work, school photos, etc.? Now that you're through the little years, have any tips for us moms of little bitties?

D: We keep all school pictures, of course (mainly to laugh at later!) and any art projects that were Christmas ornaments, handprints, or funny Q&As posed by the teachers. Each child has a Tupperware bin that we keep things in throughout the years, and when the time comes for them to leave the nest, they are more than welcome to take their bins with them. I have found that these items don't mean nearly as much to them as they get older, so save what you cherish and what holds a special memory for you. A 5-year-old will want to save all the things vs. the 25-year-old who will say, “Mom, why did you save this?” To be completely honest, I’ve always loved revisiting and reminiscing on our small collection of glitter, feather, noodle-covered art projects over the years. But trust me, that first-grade report card becomes less and less important as time goes on.