Getting Organized Using the Buddy System

Like adults, kids don’t like clutter. It falls on the bed, under the bed, in the closet, to the floor. When there’s stuff to toss around, it will be tossed around. If something is sitting unused, it needs to be given away to someone who will use it, preferably far from the house, or stored in the garage if you cannot part with it. Working together in a “Buddy System” is an important step toward getting your child (and yourself) in the habit of staying clutter free.

How to get organized using the Buddy System:

  • Go online and find a local charity that accepts kids toys, books and clothing. Kids and adults alike enjoy giving to others. If a child has trouble giving away a toy she no longer plays with, she’ll likely give it up to another with a hardship. Use this to your advantage and dive into that toy box together with the goal of giving to a local charity.
  • Target an area of the room for 15 minutes. The toy box, the closet, the desk…one area at a time and for only 15 minutes. Older kids will go longer, but more than that and attention fades, fits start and everyone forgets those good feelings of giving. Keep the positivity going by allowing the declutter session to be short and sweet.
  • Fill a 33-gallon trash bag full of old clothes, toys, stuffed animals, and bulky board games. Put it into the trunk of the car immediately and donate as soon as possible so that no one (including you!) changes their mind.
  • Make an agreement. Everything must have a home in a drawer, bin, on a shelf or hanger. For each new toy, book, or piece of clothing that comes in, an old one has to go out. This includes gifts from grandma!
  • Practice keeping clutter-free and organized for 21 days. Research shows that new habits can be created when practiced 21 days in a row. Help your child get in the habit of staying clutter free by cleaning and organizing together regularly for 21 days, 15 minutes at a time.


Isabella Guajardo is an Oakland-based professional organizer and owner of Bella Organizing, specializing in helping families and individuals downsize, declutter and get organized in preparation for a move and everyday