Peter Walsh knows clutter. Even better, he knows how to tame it. He appears tonight on The Living Room (7.30pm, Ten) with our friend Barry Du Bois working to declutter and decorate two kids’ rooms – with our help of course! We talked to Peter about what clutter means, and got in ahead of the show with some questions about keeping kids’ spaces under control…
Peter, what is the most extreme home you have ever decluttered?
When I was working on THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW, we decluttered a home that had so much clutter we filled up 8 skips of garbage – that’s 75 tonnes – and filled 2 football fields full of stuff to be sold. We found more than 3,500 pairs of women’s shoes and about 3,200 handbags in the house. The job took over 2 months and a staff of 10 with another 20 people working part time!
A sneak peek at the transformation by Peter, Baz and Temple & Webster – see the reveal on The Living Toom tonight (7.30pm, Ten).
What does a cluttered home say about the owner?
Your home is a reflection of your life. You home – and everything in it – tells your story. To me a cluttered home says that the person living there doesn’t respect himself/herself nor do they really respect the people they live with. Clutter has the power to rob us of peace and calm, of hope and harmony. Choosing stuff over one’s own well being or that of one’s family is clearly not the best choice one can make.
This will seem crazy but my first response is that as a parent, steer away from toys/games for your kids that have lots of pieces. They really can be a nightmare. But, understanding that that’s not always possible, make sure there are some fun bags for the kids. If you can figure out a way to make putting the toys away a fun game then you’ve won the battle! Clear plastic containers work best. Glue a photo of the game/pieces that belong in the container on the end and train your kids to do the work of putting pieces away.
I am big believer in ZONES. You must set up a separate, dedicated zone for him to do his work – and that zone should preferably be away from any distractions like a stereo or tv. A good light, a comfortable but serious chair, and of course a flat surface (or a desk) are the other things you need to have. Get him involved in the design and build/purchase of the work area so that he has an opportunity to clearly state what’s needed and will then feel more motivated to use and maintain the area.
At 3 years old, she’s old enough to help you make some decisions and feel some ownership in how the room is being set up. What’s most important though is not that the whole room is going to be hers but that a part of the room will absolutely 100% be about her – and only her. This lesson will be an important one for her to understand throughout the rest of her life. We can’t own everything. We can’t all have everything we want and sharing is a key part of being a member of a family. Additionally, what we do have, we need to learn to value.
You have to get them involved in the process. If you help them understand that there are lots of kids in the world who are not nearly as fortunate as we are, who could really use their old toys, then you’ll find their generosity will overwhelm you. And, if that doesn’t work, ask them to find just 5 things that they think only kids younger than themselves should play with and agree with them that maybe it’s time to let those go. Also – take them with you to the donation centre and have them talk to the volunteers there so that they come to understand the nature and value of giving to those less fortunate than themselves.
Find out more about Peter at his website, where you can find out more about his books, DVD and app and sign up for regular newsletters.
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