“Pick up your bedroom”
“I want to be able to see your floor when I come in to check”
If you have school age children or highschoolers, I’m sure these resonate with you. It was no different growing up sharing with a room with my sister. I heard my mom say these commands eighteen plus years of my life. My sister was a real slob. As I am in and out of homes organizing, I see several patterns and common pitfalls in keeping kids’ rooms tidy. The challenges and obstacles aren’t much different from what my sister struggled with, so here are some thoughts and hopefully helpful suggestions on the topic:
Clean Your Room!
1 – Let’s start with the biggest obstacle: time! “Mom, I have no time.” Between homework, sports, extracurricular activities, and spending time with friends, who has time to organize their bedroom? From a young age they have a lot of demands of their time just as we adults do. We can all make excuses why we don’t have time. The key is to make time. Yes, you already knew that. I know. So how will your child make time in their week? If you’re not making time to organize or pick up your room, do you really think they will? Unfortunately, you are the model. They watch you like a hawk, and if you don’t make it a priority, neither will they.
As you schedule soccer or homework into the day, schedule organizing into the week. Picking up their bedroom and putting clothes away will take no more than 15-20 minutes tops if they do this weekly.
2 – Now for the clothes; clothes don’t get put away and end up on the floor or the kids live out of the laundry for two reasons. The first reason is that their drawers and closets are so full that they can’t fit anymore inside. Instead of cleaning out the drawers and closets (making decisions) it’s easier to live with piles on the floor or get dressed out of the laundry basket. Like you and I, they only wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time and 80% of their clothes they wear 20% of the time. The second reason is that often their closets are not efficient and non-functioning. You and I don’t like to fight with hangers and toppling piles of sweater and jeans and shelves, and they are no different. In fact, I would venture to say avoid hanging clothes altogether until they are in junior high or high school. It’s ten times easier to put clothes away in a drawer than to hang every article of clothing up on a hanger.
So the solution is to go through their drawers and closets together regularly and seasonally, weeding out the old and making room for the new. Is this a lot of work? Yes, it is; but if you take the time twice a year, the rest of the of the year and each morning before going to school becomes easier because they can find things and help put clothes away.
3 – Avoid the “loading and stashing.” This occurs when you give your kids a laundry basket or box and they fill it with anything and everything they don’t want in their room and then it gets put in the basement, attic or storage. I come across these neglected and stashed boxes and baskets often. Alarm clocks are popular. I always find an alarm clock kids didn’t want. Instead of filling and stashing, quickly go through the items they discarded. Relocate them or donate them. I agree that it is a bunch of random stuff so it’s hard to know what to do with it all, but make your best effort to go through it and make the necessary decisions. Delaying them only makes things worse.
4 – The biggest complaint I hear from moms are all the knick knacks, collections, and groupings of random stuff on the top of dressers and nightstands. Kids collect anything and every small little item ends up being special. I agree this is hard to stay on top of and it makes the room appear very cluttered. So here’s what I suggest. Limit the number of collections kept. Limit the number of toys allowed in the bedroom. Limit what they can play or do in their room. You set the boundaries. Add a garbage can if they don’t have one in their room. When I “inspect” bedrooms, it’s very common that kids don’t have trash cans or waste baskets in their rooms. The reason why you’re finding a sucker stuck to the desk or a popsicle stick on the bookcase is that there’s nowhere for them to throw trash out. Use containers to hold their small items and collections; that way they can pick up when you ask them.
Just for fun – what’s the weirdest thing you ever found in your kid’s bedroom?