Writing Desks, Clutter, and Kids, Oh My!

There is something about the change of seasons that makes me want to change things as well. So yesterday, as The Father Figure worked on the new bit of the house, I decided it was high time the to make some changes in the old bit also. No more slacking off, no more ‘It’s not worth doing till the renovations are done’, yesterday was the day for doing, so I did.

I had one goal in mind… deal with the toys.

My poor kids have inherited a hefty dose of the ‘don’t throw that out it might be useful’ gene from both their father and I.

A ripped pair of Barbie undies? Don’t throw that out we can fix them!
A plastic toy from some TV show they’ll never watch, which they never play with, that came in the box with a meal from the Empire of the Evil Clown? Don’t throw that out, it’s my favourite!
A pair of shorts that are size 2 but that they still fit, even though they are nearly eight? Don’t throw that out, I might want to wear them!

I am trying hard to get on top of my ‘just in case’ tendencies but it’s hard, so I’m doing my kids a favour and helping them evict the internal hoarder and let go of stuff early on.

We started with the girl’s bedroom. That room is one of the few places we have to store toys so it is kind of stuffed full of… well… stuff! Some of it HAD to go.

There were tears, and tantrums, and begging (mostly from me) and then finally negotiation. If they let go of the broken, out grown and never played with stuff, and packed away some of the things that they don’t use very often (with a promise not to throw it out), then we would make space for a writing desk in their room.

As much as I like the idea of us all writing, drawing, working and creating together on the dining table, with the limited space that we have at the moment, and with a baby who can reach anything near the edge of the table and destroy it in under five seconds, I can see why the girls were so excited at the thought of having their own desk. To have a special spot to sit and draw and write and play with all those tiny little Polly Pocket shoes is a dream come true for the girls, and with the school holidays coming up I thought it might buy me some extra space between arguing parties too.

kids writing desk

So we swept and sorted and excavated under the beds and vacuumed and negotiated and threw out until there was space to bring in the table. Nothing fancy, just a hall table we had been using to store clutter elsewhere and two super cheap stools from Ikea. Teamed with a few of our painted tin cans to store markers and pens and an old cereal box cut down to make a magazine holder and we were done.

Of course the bog boy wanted one too. There is not even a sliver of space left in our bedroom (our = me, The Father Figure and both boys) but there was a great space left in the dining room where the hall table had originally been

cover an ikea kids table

So we salvaged an old Ikea kids table that had been left out in the weather too long. The top was water damaged, split and discoloured, but the table was still sound. So I found a piece of material that fit and cut open a thick plastic bag and used them to cover the table top. I simply folded them under and stapled them on (it’s ace having all kinds of power tools lying around!).

cover ikea kids table

I’m not sure how long the plastic will last, but if it holds up ok I think we’ll cover our other Ikea kid’s table too!

I am not sure my kids will ever be ‘clutter busters’, after all, it’s hard to break free of your heritage! But hopefully starting out young and enjoying the benefits of letting go of stuff will at least set them on the right track!

Are your kids hoarders? Or do they happily chuck stuff away?

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    Oh, gorgeous work with the desks, without going out an buying new stuff! Well done :-) I love it that the big boy wanted his own too.

    I also have a terrible hoarding gene, my husband is fortunately not like that (a reaction to his mother’s severe obsessive hoarding I think), so he is a good influence. But of course we still have way too much stuff lying around that I need to get rid of – I blame my sister who keeps passing down stuff from my nephew for my boy – smart way for her to get rid of stuff without the guilt or hassle of throwing or donating, etc – that’s all up to me! One day …

  2. Marita says

    Annie is a terrible hoarder. Gets it from her dad. But I draw the line at hoarding food scraps.

    I’m a tossed outer and often go a bit to far in my attempts to rid the house of all clutter.

  3. says

    My kids are the biggest hoarders (as is the Country Boy) but I am a chucker!! If I had my way we would have got rid of heaps of their junk! I started packing on the weekend, and am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I need to convince the kids to chuck (or accidentally loose).

  4. says

    My kids are dreadful hoarders as well. I let it get to a certain point then we have a big clear out. I swear the junk has found a way to reproduce independently of us adding to it. It just grows and grows in our house. Regular charity donations and chuck-outs are a must. I find it incredibly strange as we are not big buyers of stuff…one of the world’s little mysteries

  5. says

    Immy remembers every single little toy and every artistic creation and god forbid she discover that we have thrown any of her belongings away! Luckily I have learnt to be very sneaky in my culling and purging ;)

  6. says

    Finally in despair I got my kids involved in the decluttering process… it just became more than I could cope with – keeping everyone’s stuff sorted… I reckoned it was time to learn the life skill… What has really helped us to declutter this year has been to reduse the amount of space available, little by little. Finally my kids personal treasures have gone from three drawers each down to one… Something they can sort through and tidy in a day. http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/07/17/teaching-kids-to-declutter-in-se7en-steps

  7. says

    We have a big problem in our house – I’m a hoarder, which is manageable because I never buy things. My husband happily throws anything away, but he buys more to replace it.

    Unfortunately we haven’t gone with the minimalist option – we’ve ended up with him buying things and me not throwing them out. Every few weeks I have a major tantrum and we clean the playroom, but we only ever manage to throw out one box full so it just happens again. I’m currently refusing to wash the girls clothes until they pick up the ones off the floor, and it doesn’t seem to be working.

    I love the way the table came up, that would be such a great play area. If the plastic doesn’t last, we got thick clear vinyl from Spotlight for our dining table about 5 years ago. It does a lot of duty with craft and cooking as well and it’s still going strong.

  8. says

    I played a word association game with my 7yo last month where I said “Toys!” and he said, “St Vincents!” So I guess I am a declutterer but the kids know that if they don’t play with something, someone else can use it through St V’s charity store.

  9. Aunty Sarah says

    Peter hasn’t had a chance to develop self sufficient hoarding yet, but if Goosetrap and I are anything to go by he is DOOMED! Perhaps by the time he is able to choose to keep or throw away things he will have a room all to himself, and not full of my desk, my books, my filing cabinet and the entrance to the extremely excellent junk storing attic! DOOMED I tell you :-)