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Organizing Kids

Do you want your kids to be more organized?

The singular, most important thing you can do to motivate them to keep their room tidy is to get them to own it.  If they can take ownership, I believe it will be a game changer!

Tell your kids their room is like their own little apartment. It is. Now help them (again) get it in order so they can keep it that way. Here’s what I do:

Empower kids to make wise choices.

If kids are allowed the freedom to choose what stays, what goes and even how to arrange and decorate their room, they will better care for and respect their belongings. The more “power-to-choose” you delegate to them in the area of their personal belongings, the more, they’ll actually want to maintain order

That’s exactly what happened for me with my middle child. He is creative and inventive and actually likes order but was consistently struggling to keep his stuff off the floor. Suggesting the idea of his room being his “little apartment” seemed to help him take pride and ownership of the appearance of his space. His floor has been “clean and clear” (for the most part), with a little coaching and reminding,

Get rid of stuff

The common problem in every kid’s room I have ever seen, is too much stuff! Their room is overflowing with all kinds of toys, books, clothes, shoes, accessories, collections and just plain trash! Often there is a mix of clean and dirty clothes on the floor along with a mixture of all the items mentioned above. If their room is in chaos and disorder, they won’t want to spend any time in there and neither will anyone else. Get rid of surplus stuff. They probably can’t keep their room tidy because there’s far too many things in there. Help them with this mass exodus of junk by setting aside an afternoon to liberally purge by category:

  • Clothes: Get all the dirty clothes out. Pile all the clean clothes on a clear “palette” (the bed). Sort through each article and make a decision. If it fits and if it is loved, place it in the “keep” pile; If not, toss into their donation box. Don’t get hung up on how much you paid for it; it no longer works for this child so it must go. If possible, hang all shirts and tops. It is helpful for kids to visually see everything they own if it is hung, ideally low enough for them to reach independently. Put smaller clothing items in labeled drawers.
  • Toys, books, games, shoes: working with one category at a time, put all items in a pile in the center of the room and quickly sort: donate, trash, keep. Anything that is broken, has missing pieces, is outgrown or unloved has to go. Only keep what is loved and used. Your child will find it much easier to care for the remaining items and keep the room  tidy, after this big purging process.
  • Paper: Most paper in the child’s can go straight to “file 13”; the trash. There are those “treasures” however, that they’ll want to hang onto. In my home, we do two things with the “keep” papers. We’ll hang them or put  then in their 3-ring binder of keepsakes. They choose what is kept and whether it is displayed or stored. The wall space acts as a natural boundary limit. If there’s no additional room to display, then something needs to come down.  I also suggest using the furniture in the room to create physical boundaries for their items (i.e. when the lid on the toy box no longer closes, it’s time to get rid of some things and no new toys can enter the room).

The last thing they need is MORE. But I’m going to suggest it anyway! Add a trash can, a laundry basket and a donation box for items they no longer want. Don’t worry, you’ll discover plenty of room for these potentially bulky items after you reclaim this space but they can also be placed out in the hallway near their room.

Bottom line: Encourage your kids to “own” their space and give them freedom to make decisions about their stuff. Give them guidance and boundaries using existing furniture in the room to set physical limits and “maximum capacity” for their stuff.

And lastly, give grace. Progress over perfection. The goal is to empower our kids not to control them.

Happy organizing and happy parenting!