Kids + Summer = Smart Organizing

How To Help Your Kids Clean Their Rooms

Kids have are busy throughout the summer with camps, play dates, the pool, video games. Some even have homework (gasp!). One thing that should definitely be on their list, though, is organizing.

Organizing is a life skill, like hygiene and money skills. And your kid is probably way better at it than you think. Have you seen her classroom? Most schools are models of organized spaces. Kids know where everything is in their classrooms. You can help them bring those skills home for the summer.

Believe it or not, even if it’s hard to get a kid on board with most other things, organizing his room can be easy, or at least enlightening. Start with small steps with a small child to lay the groundwork. As kids get older, they can do more for themselves, so let them.

A child as young as 5 or 6 can organize his own room with only a little help from a parent. An older child can usually be bribed. Here’s the craft closet my 6-year old organized with just a tiny little bit of help. No, it’s not perfect, but she’s very proud of her work.

Don’t fall into the classic trap of telling your child to go organize her room and not to come down till it's clean. She’ll be there until she is 30. It’s isolating. There are too many distractions. It’s confusing. It’s not fun. You’d feel the same way, right?

Instead, follow the first rule of organizing your child’s room. Head into the room with your child, start at the door, and work your way in a circle around the room, until you come back to the door. Ask your child:

  • What do you want to do with these things?
  • Do you want to keep this, or are you ready to part with it?
  • Where do you want to keep these?
  • Is there a better way to organize these?
  • Is there anything that would help you keep the room organized?

Don’t do the work for him. Let him handle his stuff. You can just be there with the questions…and the trash bag and bag for things he wants to donate.

By asking  these questions, you are giving your child permission to make changes and letting her know that you trust her to take responsibility for her space.

Yes, it may take longer organizing a room this way, but you learn an awful lot about your kid. You may find out that the reason the clothes end up on the floor is because he constantly breaks or bends flimsy hangers. (Solution: Invest $20 in sturdy hangers.) You might find out that he forgets to carry cups and dishes to the kitchen. (Solution: Buy a serving tray to return things once a day.) You may find out he wears the same socks all week because his sock drawer is jammed closed. (Solution: Fix the drawer or put socks in a bin on a closet shelf.) Of course, you may find things that can only be described with one word…teenager. But that’s to be expected.

If it’s time to redecorate, get some input from your child on what works in her room and what doesn’t. You may find that her room could be completely organized just by utilizing the space under the bed. The whole room may be off kilter because the outlets aren’t quite in the right places for lamps and electronic chargers. You child may be completely willing to make the bed every day if there is only one duvet to pull up, but a mess of sheets, blankets and quilts is overwhelming. None of these changes have to cost big bucks, and that’s a good thing, because your child may completely change her taste next month.

If guiding your child to organize his room is rule number 1, then making sure he has places to store things is rule number 2. Ask him if he needs more shelves, drawers, bins or boxes. Allow him to personalize, paint and label to suit his taste, and he will be much more likely to use the storage solutions that he picked out.

Kids can’t put things away if they don’t know where “away” is.

Teach them not to use the floor as storage, and they’ll carry that skill into adulthood. Furniture with enough cubbies, drawers and display space is definitely part of the solution. SmartStuff Furniture  brings enough storage for the average (or above average) stuffed animal collector.

Don’t be surprised if “organizing their room” takes one day, and “organizing their closet” takes a second day. That’s completely normal!

Let your child read this article, and let her tell you what would or wouldn’t work for her.

Organize your kids' rooms in the summer to set expectations and clear out the old school year papers and accumulated bits. Then organize again at the end of summer to help set them up for the new school year. Help your kids set up a place to study and store all of their things for their new grade. Because, really, doesn’t everybody love a fresh start?

Happy summer!

Darla DeMorrow owns HeartWork Organizing near Philadelphia, with hands-on help for families to reclaim space and sanity. Her book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur, helps women deliver strong babies and profits.

Categories: MomSpeak