Do you look forward to starting a new year?

Although January is usually still dark and cold, one of the best things about it is the opportunity for a fresh start. Making New Year’s Resolutions can give us great things to look forward to in the coming year.

January is a great opportunity to set plans, hopes and goals for the next twelve months. There is excitement in the air as people venture outside to pursue their new fitness goals or adopt new hobbies. Though these are great goals to have, you may find that they are more of a challenge as the weeks go on!

This year, you might like to try an alternative New Year journey: that of decluttering. This can be a whole-family activity: long, cold, wintry nights can be transformed by making a fun evening out of decluttering your home. Why not turn this into a competition for your children? You could include challenges such as ‘Who can get the tidiest bedroom?’ or ‘Who can find the strangest item?’.

One way to get started is to draw up a floor map of your home, colouring in each room when it has been decluttered. Depending on your children’s ages, you could give them responsibility for decluttering their own bedroom, although if they are younger, they may need help with this. When the floor map of your home is completely coloured in, why not treat the family by having a day out?

Physical decluttering can be challenging, so you might like to come up with some questions to help you decide whether to keep the items or not, such as:

  • Is it broken?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Does it bring back good memories?
  • Is it essential

Clothes are more straightforward, particularly for growing children (they seem to outgrow them as soon as they are bought!). With your own clothes, you might like to ask:

  • Does this item of clothing fit?
  • Have I worn it in the last year?
  • Is it still wearable?

The joy of decluttering is that everything gets bagged up to start on the next part of its journey, where it will be loved or repurposed into something else. Children’s toys and clothes can be gifted to families with younger children. Any other items can be donated to charity or sold to people who will love and value them. Prams, buggies, and Wendy houses will be gratefully received by families with babies and toddlers. You may want to also tackle places such as the cupboard under the stairs, attic, garden shed or the car.

Hard as it might be to part with some items, this is a great opportunity to discuss with your kids what they really need in their lives, and the importance of giving to others who would really benefit from an item they don’t use.

Next on the list comes personal decluttering. This means sorting through our current habits and patterns of life and clearing out anything that is no longer helpful. Children and adults can both benefit from this process. This is a good opportunity to get talking with your children about issues that may be bothering them. Try something creative, such as brainstorming as a family on a big piece of paper about things your children would like to change in their lives. Perhaps there are some clubs that they are not enjoying any more or new clubs that they would like to join. This can give you a better understanding of what your kids are into at the moment, what they value and any tensions they are feeling about how they spend their time. It might even open up a discussion about how decluttering your lives can help you do things you love together as a family. When you’ve made all your choices, you could put your new plans onto a family calendar, or get the children to make an activity chart so you remember what you have all decided to do this week, month and year.

Life experiences sometimes affect children more than parents realise. This is a good opportunity to talk things through, and if necessary scribble the upset and frustration out on a piece of paper. Younger children might like to express themselves through painting or drawing. For older children, journals and notebooks will give them a safe space to write or draw a picture of what is troubling them. Sometimes just being present and listening to your child talking about their feelings will be enough to help them ‘declutter’ the issue that is worrying them.

Finally, you may like to revisit your ongoing to-do list and take off some of the jobs that deep down, you know you won’t get around to, or that aren’t that important after all. Let’s face it, there will always be jobs to do, but don’t forget to also schedule time for making memories with your children. You might like to compile an alternative to-do list with your children – a list of fun activities you could do together on weekends or holidays. Once your decluttering is done, select an activity and go and have fun together!

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