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Too much stuff? Expert says clear clutter

January 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Nguyen family thought their daughter had too much stuff.

"Previously, she'd walk into her room and there'd be so much stuff she wouldn't know what to play with," says Jimmy Nguyen.

So they got rid of all but a handful of toys and books. They found she now plays more creatively with what is left.

Think your kids may not be so excited about this?

Instead of tossing everything at once, get rid of a few toys a week. And work on other areas in your home so the kids see everyone is living with less.

"One of the simple things we've done is we just each have two towels," says Tobi Nguyen, thinking back on her family's experience.

Sound extreme? Kim John Payne, author of the book "Simplicity Parenting," says that as the world gets crazier, clearing the clutter can help families find balance.

"When we overload our kids, when there's just too much, too soon, too sexy, too young, just too much, what happens is it actually disadvantages them," Payne says.

According to Payne, eliminating what you have, instead of adding to it, actually helps your child and the entire family.

In fact, there are even groups that meet to support families looking to live with less.

"It's ok to let go of all this stuff and to de-clutter," says Rae Lee Pierce, a leader of one of these groups. "Your kids don't need 150 toys."

Experts say sometimes parents just buy things for kids as way to connect or show them affection. But when the buying stops, the children connect with the parents, not the products.

Some adults find they feel less stress when they simplify, too - both their stuff and their schedules.