Kids And Clutter; Sort Out That Mess!

By: Gail Miller

Are your kids' rooms so messy that sorting things out
seems just too daunting a task? If so, here are some strategies
for you to bring some order back to your children's spaces.

First if all, do your kids actually need everything they own?
Are you still hoarding clothes and shoes they have grown out
of or toys that are now far to young for them to play with? Be
ruthless - pass them onto someone else, dump them at the
charity shop or throw them out. It is not use trying to tidy
around things which have outgrown their usefulness.

If any of your kids’ rooms are particularly bad (drawers
full of small pieces of rubbish, sweet wrappers, broken
Lego, pens without tops etc, try the ‘mining’ technique. Take
the draw (crate, box or bag) and tip everything out onto some
large sheets of newspaper. Then ‘mine’ all the useful items
and put them in a container. Everything that is left stays on
the newspaper. This is then wrapped up and put straight
into the bin.

Is there usually dirty washing in your kid’s rooms? Are they
loath to use the wash bin to put their soiled clothing in? If so,
why not have a different coloured laundry bin for each
child, or put a logo of their favourite character or pastime
on the front. This might encourage them to place their dirty
clothes where they belong.

Attach pegs or hooks behind each child’s door. This is
where they can hang their school uniform for the next day
as I think that trying to get them to fold their uniforms neatly
and place them in a drawer till the next day would be a
triumph of hope over experience! This way, when they
come home at night, when they change they can simply
place all items on the hooks and forget about them till
the next morning.

Now, one of the best organising solutions is smart, cheap
and effective. Buy a number of colourful plastic stackable
crates to house clutter. They can be colour-coded if desired
e.g. Blue for books, Red for Lego and construction, Yellow for
games etc. Not only this, but they can be used for shoes or
seasonal clothing which is not required. If you are able
to install some racking too these crates look very funky lined
up against a wall and this way they don’t have to be stacked
on top of one another.

Books look much neater if lined up in size order or colour
coded. A mish mash of books just stuffed in a bookshelf
any old how does not make for a tidy looking room. Likewise
with videos, or CDs. Store them with all red, green, yellow
coloured spines together. Not only does it look neater, but it
also makes titles easier to find too.

Should the rooms get to such a state that drastic measures
are needed, try a ‘2 minute pick up’ where you get the kids
to pick up as much rubbish and put it back neatly as they
can do in 2 minutes. This is an effective strategy, especially
with younger kids, because it is so much fun! Let them off
after 2 minutes if they have at least tried. You can do the
rest as a favour.

If any of your children have a particularly small bedroom raise
the bed on stilts. This way you will have all that extra room
underneath. It doesn’t need a DIY genius to rig some leg.
If you can afford the money, one of those high beds with
cupboards / sofas / writing desk contraptions underneath
might just be a solution to a too cluttered bedroom.

Small toys such as Barbies, Duplo bricks, etc can be stored in
drawstring bags hung from hooks on the wall. These are very
simple to make. Just an oblong piece of material, folded in half
and sewn up the seam and across the bottom with a hem round
the top through which a string can be threaded. The bag can be
pulled tight shut with the string.

Finally, try to encourage good habits by letting your children
help you with your own chores and always reward for a job
well done. If your kids have at least tried to keep things tidyScience Articles,
you should let them know how you have noticed this with a
reward and encouragement to do it again the next time.

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