It's the battle cry of millions of parents: "Clean your room!" Will it ring out in your house today?
Seasonal events like birthdays, the holidays or a new school year bring fresh motivation to the drive to get kids organized--and nowhere is the battleground more intense than in the children's bedrooms.
How do you help your child organize and clean up life in the bedroom?
Try these eight easy organization strategies to calm clutter and bring order to kids' rooms.
Take a child's eye view
Get down to your child's eye level to help him or her get organized. Look at your child's space, storage, furniture and possessions from his or her vantage point. The view may surprise you!
Adult furniture and organizing systems don't translate well to children's needs. Sticky dresser drawers are hard for small hands to manage. Folding closet doors pinch fingers and jump their rails when pushed from the bottom. Closet hanging rods are out of reach, while adult hangers don't fit smaller clothing. Traditional toy boxes house a tangled jumble of mixed and scattered toy parts.
To organize a child's room, solutions must fit the child. For younger children, remove closet doors entirely. Lower clothing rods and invest in child-sized hangers. Use floor-level open containers to hold toys, open plastic baskets to store socks and underwear.
Devise a simple daily checklist for maintenance. To organize a child's room, tailor the effort to the child.
Bring the child into the process
Resist the urge to wade into the mess alone, garbage bags flying. Gritted teeth and threats of "You will keep this room clean!" don't touch the root of the problem: teaching children organization skills and maintenance methods.
Instead, look at the organization process as a learning activity, and put the focus on the child. Professional organizer Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out, recommends that you view your role as that of organizational consultant to your child.
As his or her guide, survey what's working, what's not, what's important to the child, what's causing the problems, and why the child wants to get organized.
Partnered with your child, you stand a better chance of devising an organization scheme and system that makes sense to him or her. If they're involved in the effort, children are better able to understand the organizational logic and maintain an organized room.
Sort, store and simplify
It's a conundrum! Children's rooms are usually small, often shared, and generally lack built-in storage. Yet these rooms are host to out-of-season and outgrown clothing, surplus toys, and even household overflow from other rooms. Kids can't stay organized when the closet is crammed, the drawers are stuffed, and playthings cover each square inch of carpet.
The solution: sort, store and simplify.
Begin with clothing: sort it out! Store out-of-season or outgrown clothing elsewhere.
Finally, simplify! Does your son really wear all 27 T-shirts crowding his drawer? Remove the extras so the remainder can stay neat and orderly in the available space.
For younger children, a toy library is the answer to over-abundant toys. Using a large lidded plastic storage container, large box or even plastic garbage bag, entrust a selection of toys to the "toy library." Store the container in an out-of-the way place for several months.
Some rainy day, bring out the toy library, swapping the stored toys for other playthings that have lost their savor. The stored toys will have regained their interest and freshness--and they won't have been underfoot in the child's room.
Older kids can utilize higher closet shelves to "store" some of their belongings. Clear plastic shoebox storage containers hold little pieces and identify the contents.