How to organize a kid's room - Reclaiming Our Spaces

Start with a good and open attitude

My oldest princess is only 7.  She likes it when her room is clean but she doesn't like the work it involves.  Sound familiar?  I am often the same way and my husband feels it even deeper.  It's her space and most of the time she is allowed to keep it however she wants.  But I also recognize it is my job to teach her how to clean a room.  It's my job help her break the overwhelming down into manageable jobs - into chunks she can accomplish after the initial "I don't want to clean my room" tears subside.

Keep healthy expectations 

Obviously, I don't insist on a clean room or a made bed.  We talk about how we can't walk in here.  I call her attention to when a toy is broken because it was stepped on.  As long as she doesn't have food or drinks laying around here, isn't doing drugs or having sex (I realize this stuff is just around the corner), I'm okay with her keeping her room how she wants.  But that also means that from time to time we have a clean your room Saturday followed by the promise of a reward for hard work.

I stumbled upon this thoughtful article on the topic of kids' clean rooms that you might appreciate.  Much of this resonates with me.  I don't tell my kids to go clean their rooms.  I might say things like, "Please go to your room and put all of your shoes where they belong."  They have a small mission they truly can accomplish.

Pick up, sort, and cull

In this week's Reclaiming Our Spaces post I worked alongside my 7 year old.  Some of this was really hard for me because I want to get rid of so much stuff.  Last Fall I was teaching a class and one of our assignments was culling our book collections.  I got my daughter in on the action.  It seems six and a half years old was a good time to do this.  Her taste in books had changed and she had opinions. We donated about 1/3 of her book collection which was a  LOT!  Because of that, we didn't touch the books this weeks.

Our first step was simply picking up the floor and desk.  When we do tasks like this I tell her it is a productive way to spend time together and I learn a lot about her buy helping her clean her room.  She usually has a good attitude about it once we get started.
In the above photo from left to right you'll see a hand-me-down tv on a microwave cart found at a yard sale.  The next shelf was something I put in there for this project.  It's the shelf system I tried out in here and it wasn't a good fit.  I set up some book collections, and some paper systems on this shelf. My daughter cleared off her desk and I had her go through the inside drawer too.  Her desk is the only item in this room I purchased for her (oh wait, my husband bought her the floor blocks).  I found it at In Retrospect in Fayetteville about a year ago. After the big pick up, we took a break for the day.  I had ordered some organizing cubes from Clever Container so I wanted to wait and finish up this room once they arrived.

Organize and set up systems

The movie collection is now in one of the super cute Clever Container bins.  VHS is on the bottom layer and the DVDs are on the top layer.  And now the items that need to go back to the library have a designated spot too.

Below is the addition to the room.
1. I used a clear Fridge Cube from Clever Container to corral her CDs. She put an old birthday invite in front of it to "decorate it".
2. I used the bottom of an empty shoe box to corral her notebooks.  We discussed how this is her boundary and if she gets another notebook she has to get rid of one.
3. I used a Wire Chrome Divider from Clever Container for a few book collections.  I had never thought of using it like this before but it is doing exactly what I needed!  
 4.  One Clever Container cube has drawing paper and a box my daughter wants to use for a project.  Inside this cube is also a magazine holder (also from Clever Container) which is home to her completed works of art.  5. The last cube is filled with audio books handed down to her from her retired Kindergarten teacher Nana.  Each book and tape has its own bag.

Acknowledge the desire to collect

If you'll search this blog for the "Smarter Spaces" series you'll see short posts that will give you some organizing perspective based on the age of your kids.  Reading child development articles based on your child's age will also give you insight into why they become obsessed with collecting and that it's normal.  This aspect of child-rearing is hard for me.  It is all a bunch of clutter when I look at it.  But it means something to her.  

I offered her two items (spice steps) designed for the kitchen that would at least enable her to see her collections a little better.  I asked her if she wanted to keep each item.  If I at least asked her, I knew that I was training her to think that not everything has to stay just because it's here already.  

Let them make decisions

My daughter decided to make this corner her studio corner. How perfect, considering the beautiful landscape right outside the window.  (By the way, I spent a good 30 minutes or more of my life rehanging the curtains so they wouldn't touch the floor, I despise hanging curtain rods and shelves on the wall.  I needed an icecream cone attitude adjustment after that.)

Six months ago I asked my daughter if she wanted to move any furniture in her room, or if she thought things were working fine.  She wanted to move her desk, so we did.  Working alongside each other really can be fun.  We walked through the steps of making her bed (again).  And she started doing something very clever.  She put all of her extra pillows and stuffies at the foot of the bed.  I told her how clever I thought that was because she didn't have to move them just to go to sleep.  She felt proud and smart because that was just her instinct.  

Know when it's good enough

We are not striving for HGTV or pinterest perfect here.  We are striving for workable systems in real life and enabling room to spread out, create, and just be who we are.  She thought she did a spectacular job making her bed, I didn't tell her otherwise.  

She loves her room.  I am so happy to give my daughter a home and place where she is free to be. 
Do you need to help your child clean up their room?  Do it before school starts!

I can't wait to see what Jacqueline works on this week.  Go see!

Clever Container items used in this room:  Double Duty in pink and green, medium Chrome divider, Desk Envy and medium clear Fridge Cube. Purchase them any time at An empty cute shoe box and a shelf I bought at Bed, Bath and Beyond years ago came in quite handy!  

1 comment:

Jacqueline Presley said...

This is a really great post. Love all the info & so cute to see it from your daughter's perspective.

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