The Never-Ending Battle: Kids And Their Stuff
Kids love stuff. I don’t know why, but they love getting things, keeping things, accumulating things. Perhaps you have one who is particularly good at "collecting" things (and not very good at letting go of anything), your Clutterbug. Does he have piles of toys and papers in his room? Does she have drawers full of random objects all tossed together?
For many kids, as well as adults, clutter is a serious problem. When the child's room is so stuffed with things that they can't find their shoes, or that important homework project, or their inhaler(!), clutter becomes worrisome. When the child's clutter seeps out of her room and takes over the whole house, it can affect the whole family.
Your job, as a parent, is to teach your child to control clutter. Not only to organize it, but to learn which things to buy, which to keep, and which to let go. Really, the more stuff you have, the more time you must invest into keeping, organizing, moving, and storing it. In order to raise children with good "stuff habits," you must teach them now, before bad habits are ingrained.
Remember, it's one thing to teach. In order to really instill good habits, you must practice good modeling as well. For ideas on how to organize your household clutter, see Organization. But for ideas on how to help kids keep tidy, continue reading.
Bedrooms are for sleeping
The number one mistake many parents make is letting kids keep all their toys in their rooms. It seems like a good idea. When company comes over, you can just shut the doors to the kids' room, right?
This is the way that bedrooms get out of control. Kids have a hard enough time just remembering to brush their teeth twice a day. Trying to organize a room full of clothes (clean and dirty), shoes, books, jewelry, homework, and dozens of toys is a job too big for anyone!
This is what belongs in a child's bedroom: clothes, books, a few personal knick-knacks, and ONE TOY. This seems extreme, but it works! And it's not as bad as it sounds. The one toy can be of their choosing and can include accessories: a small basket of building blocks, a favorite doll in her cradle, a Barbie house with a few dolls. One toy means one item with accessories that can be put away cleanly when not in use.
This one toy can also be changed out. Perhaps your daughter wants her racetrack and cars in her room one month. Next month, she may choose to exchange it for dress-up clothes. Allow your child to be control of the choice.
This makes it easy for your child to keep a clean room. Make it easy so they can have success!
Each and Every Item Has a "Permanent Home"
Every item in your child’s room should have a place. I know it seems simple, like the old adage, "A place for everything, and everything in its place." But truly, this is the basis for every organized house.
Random piles of clutter are not acceptable. This is the stance you must take. If the child's room is terribly disorganized now, you will need to help your child get it into shape. That means, separating random piles of stuff into organized piles of stuff. Invest in baskets and bins of different sizes and get to work. For ideas on how to organize a room from scratch see Starting From Scratch.
If your daughter has fifty bracelets (in ten locations around the house), buy her a colorful bin. This is the bracelet bin. All bracelets live in the bracelet bin. It can sit on her bookshelf, in her closet, or even on her dresser. As long as she returns bracelets to the bin, she can keep them in her room.
Then, when you find a bracelet on your kitchen counter, you need only say, "Please put this bracelet in its home." She will know exactly what to do.
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