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Friday, April 6, 2012

More Help - Teaching Your Kids to Declutter


Chris Zdeb of the Edmonton Journal wrote the following review of Room Enough for Daisy by Rita Feutl and Debby Waldman. It has been recognized as a resource by the National Association of Professional Organizers.

"Stuff. We all have it. Arguably, we have too much of it. Even kids.

So when Rita Feutl's daughters complain their bedrooms are too small, she tells them to get rid of some of the stuff in them, to make their rooms bigger.

Feutl's parental advice reminded her friend, Debby Waldman, of an Eastern European folk tale about a house too small - one similar to a folk tale Feutl knew as well - and faster than you can say 'clutter,' the two Edmonton children's authors were working on their first book together, Room Enough for Daisy (Orca Book Publishers, $19.95). The bright and colourful illustrations are done by Edmonton-area artist Cindy Revell.

The book is about young Daisy, who is worried about where she's going to put all the stuff she's expecting to get in three weeks at her birthday party. Her bedroom is too small already, she complains to her mom. How did stuff become such a problem for Daisy, and the rest of us?

Part of the answer, says Feutl, is 'we're inundated with advertisements which do a very good job of turning wants into needs. All of a sudden your gizmo, your MP3 player, is no longer good enough. You need the next generation of (gizmo) and the old one gets dumped into a drawer.

That happens with dolls, toys, with everything,' she explains. 'The other thing is we've become really good at having these celebrations of stuff gathering. Whether it's a birthday or a bar mitzvah or Christmas - whatever you call it - it's a stuff-gathering,' Feutl says sitting at Waldman's kitchen table. 'And not just stuff-gathering, but stuff-giving.

Who was the evil devious person who invented loot bags for birthday parties?'

'It was probably someone who owned a dollar store,' Waldman, sitting next to her, answers, laughing.

'Sometimes,' Waldman says, lowering her voice to a whisper, 'those little plastic things you get (in loot bags), I just empty right into a garbage can, and you feel bad because somebody went out and spent all that time running around buying s t u ff.'

Feutl says she hopes it prompts thoughtful parents to ask their kids to think about where the material for these things comes from, where they are put together, who puts them together and what they're paid, how they're pack-aged and how they get to the village, town or city where the kids live?

'We both feel the same way about clutter,' Waldman notes, 'that we have way more than we need ... and that so much of it is junk and things you'll never use.'

Room Enough for Daisy is about reusing, reducing and recycling, Feutl says.

I call it a book about a child hoarder,' Waldman adds.

A kid with clutter issues,' Feutl corrects.

'And what the mom in this book does, is what a lot of people suggest doing for kids who can't let go of things.'

What the mom does is parcel up some of Daisy's stuff and store it in the basement for six months, to see if any of it is actually missed, Feutl explains.

'I've read that if there are clothes in your closet you haven't worn in two years, you should get rid of them,' Waldman notes.

'It could go to a rummage sale or charity,' adds Feutl. 'The idea is just to make kids aware of their stuff and to take responsibility for it.'

They'll learn that some things are worth keeping more than others, and that less really is more."

More on kids and clutter:

Teaching Kids How to Sort and Declutter

Helping Your Kids Turn Their Clutter into Cash

Color-Coding Toys

Three Steps to Decluttering Your Child's Room (print) or (Kindle