How to teach a teenager good decluttering habits

‘I will buy you a whole new range of make-up,’ I told my teenage daughter. ‘But… [of course there was going to be a but] first you need to completely declutter your current make-up supplies.’ We’ll go through all your cosmetics I said, in drawers, make-up bags, in the bathroom and get rid of everything old or that didn’t work out and you’ll never use.bedroom clutter Copyright Rightsize 2017

It was a good way to get my daughter to clear out her makeup. I mean, most of us could do with clearing out our make-up… you may have old compacts with only a thin rim of 5 year old powder round the edge, perfumes someone gave you but aren’t your thing, and creams you don’t recognise and have no idea why you bought them.

But it was also important for me to do this with my daughter because it’s good practice to start a young person off with in life. If they see it as automatic that when they go out and buy new make-up, they first need to have a sort out, a declutter, a cull, they’ll do this whenever they’re thinking about buying new cosmetics in the future. Rather than simply adding to the collection and ignoring the deep dark drawers full of nasty old decaying products. Beautifully packaged ones bought on a whim that they’ll never end up using. Eyeshadow pallets which were the wrong colour but seem too wasteful to throw away. Old hotel freebies. You get the picture.

And what better incentive can there be than the promise of mum taking you out and buying you new make-up that works for you now and that you’re going to use? This principle could be used in other areas, whether it’s wardrobe (if you declutter your wardrobe, make up a bag to give to charity and tidy everything, I’ll take you shopping and buy you some clothes). Or with toys.

Most important of all you’re ingraining in your young people the principle that in life, whenever you buy new things, you should be prepared to let other things go. The one in, one out rule. It should stand them in good stead.

©2018 Rightsize Ltd.   No part of Rightsize content or images, whole or partial, may be used without Sarah Macnaught’s written consent.  Email her at  Sarah Macnaught, is a leading declutterer and downsizing specialist in the UK.  She is UK ambassador for the Institute of Professional Organisers an international member of the National Assn of Senior Move Managers