But today is different. Starting today, that goal of yours is within reach. Why? Simple. We’re going to teach your kids how to keep their rooms clean. Kids (and a large number of adults) struggle to keep their areas clutter-free due to numerous reasons. The most common reason, however, is lack of instruction. Those who struggle to keep a tidy bedroom, home, or office simply need to be taught. These quick lessons will empower your kids for decades to come; they will equip your kids to become successful adults! And who doesn’t want that!?
Create Homes for Everything.
You knew I was going to say that. Of course you did. Because, by now, you KNOW that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to put things away if they don’t actually have a home to return to. If your child isn’t in middle school yet, I recommend making these decisions for them. If your child is older, invite them to be part of this process (though, I’ll warn you, the process may go much slower). You’ll need to go through every item in their bedroom. I recommend starting on the right side of their bedroom door and working around the room if you’ve never tackled a job like this before. Decide what is staying and temporarily put it somewhere. You’ll settle on permanent homes for all the objects once you know what is staying. Finally, divide the room up into zones (like dressing, sleeping, and playing) and then organize the items by category within each zone (i.e., dressing: shirts, pants, socks, etc.).
Show Your Child the Homes.
This is the most frequently skipped step. We think that just because we put things away all nice and neat that our kids actually SEE where everything was put and UNDERSTAND why those items ended up there. Don’t assume anything. Ever. Not with kids or adults. Trust me, just don’t. Instead, take the time to TEACH your child where things go and why. “Your underwear goes in this drawer on top because it’s the first thing you put on. Your socks are in the second drawer, and your pants are in the third drawer. Once you’ve got those on, then come over here to the closet. Do you see how I’ve hung up all your shirts? I put the long sleeve shirts over here and your short sleeves over there. This is where you’ll find all your shirts. This is also the place where they go when I bring up the clean laundry.” DING! DING! DING! Teaching your child where things go will not only help them find things, it will help them PUT THEM AWAY! During this time of instruction, ask your child if the placement of items is logical for them. Would they do it differently? If so, why? Listen to the answers and adjust accordingly.
Implement the Ten Minute Tidy.
Now that your child knows where everything is supposed to go, they’re physically able to put all the items away. But your child won’t do this out of the goodness of his heart and maintain it over time until it becomes a sweet habit. Nope. Your child will continue to be a kid. A creative member of the family. And creatives make messes. You don’t want to squash their creative spirit, but you do want to establish some healthy guidelines. Enter the Ten Minute Tidy. (Side note, this name isn’t original with me --- I’m sure it’s been used hundreds of times in different settings. I thought about calling it the Clean Sweep….but I know that was the name of a show. The point is, you can call this step WHATEVER you want. The name isn’t important. The action is.)
- Pick a time each day to perform your 10 (or 20) minute tidy. Morning, afternoon, evening, it’s up to you. I prefer before bed so that our family can start the next day with a clean slate.
- Set a timer. Working under a deadline helps to increase productivity.
- Have your kids perform these 3 tasks:
- Pick up all dirty laundry.
- Put away clean clothing.
- Put away all toys/crafts.
- Download this sticker chart for your younger kiddos.
Daily tidying will go a long way to helping your children create cleaner, more organized spaces beyond their bedrooms. Limit the tidy time to basic tasks until they’re crushing those tasks within minutes. I like to begin with the 3 basic tasks listed above because they are the most common items I find as I organize children’s bedrooms. This should clear up 95% of the room. Additional tasks to add might include: throwing away trash, finding items to donate, vacuuming/dusting, making beds, taking laundry to the washer, running their own laundry, and picking out outfits for the next day. But again, don’t rush things. Habits take a long time to form, and you don’t want to overwhelm your child by requiring too much too soon. (Yes, I know, it shouldn’t be a hardship to tell them to clean up their trash, but these are kids we’re talking about. Just trust me on this. Low expectations are great in the beginning.)
Give us a call if you need help with any of these steps. We’d love to hear about your progress too. Comment below to share your story.