Think conquering your child's cluttered room is your never-ending battle? Think again. By partnering with your kid, the two of you can create a pact and a plant to tackle the ongoing battle against the disorganized room.
Tired of a constant mess and a child’s room that looks like a tornado has gone through it? If you find yourself overwhelmed by your child’s clutter don’t get angry – get smart!
Resist the urge to wade into their mess with garbage bag in hand and take over. It’s tempting. I tried it once (actually more than once) until it hit me like a truck as I sat in the middle of my son’s disaster that I wasn’t doing him any favor by taking over. Instead, I was removing his responsibility and letting him off easy.
You see, I would routinely pick up after him. And what a big mistake that was – so much so that when asked him occasionally to clean his room (in the hopes of averting a cyclone that I then had to deal with) – he panicked. He became overwhelmed just thinking about the task at hand. He didn’t have a clue where to begin nor did he have the required skills to break down the whole of the task into ‘do able’ chunks.
It wasn’t until my own ‘light’ came on that I realized it was my job as a parent to teach him both organizational skills and maintenance methods. In other words, it was I who needed to lay the foundation in which he could build upon.
To me, organizing is second nature. But for my ten year old son, it isn’t. But over the years he has learned to maintain a basic level of organization. By knowing that everything has a place – he can now keep everything in its place. This was accomplished through a joint effort.
Together we looked at the big picture that was his room and started trouble shooting. It wasn’t until we found a place for everything that he felt he needed and wanted in his room (and a place for everything that got stacked outside his bedroom door in the process) did the whole task go much smoother.
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My son and I still need to do periodic evaluations of how his organizational system is working especially when new toys, books and clothing come onto the scene. Now all that is required is a little regular maintenance and a quarterly review of his room and its ‘outgrown contents’.
Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing From The Inside Out suggests parents become an ‘organizational consultant’ to their children. Acting as a guide, we can survey what’s working and what’s not. Consider as well your child’s lifestyle to find an organizational system that matches his schedule and activity level. Does he play mostly in or out of his room? Where does he do his homework?
As I see it, the key to dealing with kid’s clutter is to partner with your child. You need to organize WITH them instead of FOR them. By becoming a united force you have a greater chance of devising an organizational system that will work. Remember any system you put in place must be customized and needs to make sense to your child in order for it to work. Give older children some responsibility in deciding where things should be stored.
Foster a sense of ownership and encourage responsibility by giving your child as much storage space as possible. Try not to invade your children’s space by storing your out-of-season clothing or luggage in their rooms – it’s counterproductive.
When it comes to calming the clutter in your children’s room you first need to go down to your child’s level and view things from their perspective. Consider your child’s space, storage, furniture and possessions from his or her height.
Adult furniture and organizing systems often don’t meet the needs of a child. Consider for a moment sticky dresser drawers that may be hard for small hands to manage or folding closet doors that pinch fingers and may come off their rails when pushed from the bottom. Not to mention, how difficult it is for a young child to make a bed that is wedged between large pieces of furniture.
Then there’s the not so simple matter of storing the kids clothing where they can reach it. And what about all those toys? Trying to locate that special toy in a jumble of miscellaneous toys and odd parts is not only frustrating but also time consuming.
The bottom line is that the solutions must fit the child. In some cases, it may be best to remove the closet doors entirely. This is a great idea when your kids are preschoolers and are full pride about doing things for themselves. Why put up roadblocks to their development when you can, with a few adjustments make not only the learning easier but also much more fun?
Do your child a favor and start organizing things from the bottom of the room up. Find a home for your child’s most used toys and belongings on lower shelves, drawers or even on the floor. Relegate less played with possessions to higher levels.