I’ve had a lot of practice with cleaning and organizing kids’ rooms. Nine kids gave me a ton of practicing patience, I mean, practicing cleaning. It starts out with two choices-teach them to do it themselves or what may seem easier to do at the moment- do it myself. I have cleaned plenty of rooms by myself! I want to show you how to do it the smarter way in the long run- have them do it themselves!
My problem is my brain is always trying to do things in the most efficient way possible. My brain is just hard-wired this way. And I have been in manufacturing for my entire life! It’s not always awesome- ask my husband! But over time I came up with a few different ways to help my children learn to clean and organize their rooms. This is how I do… no THEY do…
1. Time limit- Start out with an agreement that you are going to do this cleaning for a certain amount of time, depending on age (or endurance level). 5-year-old – “Let’s do this for 15 minutes and we will set a timer.” For a teen maybe 5 minutes -haha! ok, maybe 30 minutes or an hour max. OR you can tell them you are only doing one area such as the closet or these 4 drawers. When it’s done- they are done! You could do this every day, every Monday or whatever works for you until it is done.
2. Decide on an area you are going to clean today. (Closet, desk, toys, shelves, etc)
3. Have 4 boxes ready. You can label them if you want:
-Garbage -Thrift Store -Memory -Another room in the house (If you keep leaving the room to put something away it takes too much time and I find myself distracted. I don’t leave the room for the amount of time we decided on or until the job is done.)
4. Play The YES/NO game. This is to help them decide what things inside their rooms they still want. My kids still like to do this and they are teens and adults. (ha- I think they like the time and attention.) I start with the hardest area because attention spans are not always at their peak while cleaning. I hold something up- start with the first shirt in the closet 🙂 and say, “Yes or no?” If it is YES, put it back in the closet or make a pile to put back later. If it is a NO then you help them decide what box to put it in. (garbage, thrift, memory or another room). CONTINUE until you have gone through/ held every item in the area.
5. Turn on some good music to keep the energy high and fun!
TIPS: Give them some tips to decide if they want to keep it or not: Personalities change this- some of my kids don’t want to keep anything and some want to keep everything. Watch their emotions on the questions.
1. Do you love it?
2. What if I made you wear it today- would you want to?
3. When was the last time you used this? ( I think if they haven’t used it in a year it can leave our home)
4. Is this something special but it doesn’t fit/use it often anymore? (put in memory box)
5. Do you think somebody else would love to have this? Maybe more than you do now? (thrift box)
Things to consider:
Sometimes I have put items that they said YES on and I thought it was probably a NO in a different box and moved it to another room and watched for a week or two to see if they ask for it. If they don’t ask for a while I add it to the THRIFT box.
Now you have to look at your own personality and see if you want to quickly take your thrift box to your local thrift store or if you want to hold onto it for a few weeks to make sure you, yourself are ready to give it away.
I have a bin for each of my kids at the top of their closet for MEMORIES. When I find something in their room for the box it is easy to add it in there to keep the closet organized. If they fill a memory box and they don’t have room in their closet for another one, I move the full one to our storage room.
TEACHING THEM to hold an item, decide if they love it/use it, then put it in an appropriate box or bin is awesome. Once they learn this skill, they can use it for the rest of their lives and know how to organize any area of their lives.
TEACH THEM TO BE GRATEFUL for what they have. We have a thing we do in our family, when we put it in the THRIFT or GARBAGE box we say, “Thank you blue shirt!” or whatever it is. Sometimes I add, “I bet someone else is going to love you!” You can talk to them about how other people may not have this many toys or clothes or markers, etc, and how grateful we are and how good giving is.
CLEANING: I like to empty the area I am organizing first.
DRAWER: Take it out if possible and empty what is inside. Have your vacuum handy and clean it well. If there are markings (crayons, markers, make-up, etc) wipe it off. Depending on the surface, clean it so it looks as good as possible.
CLOSET: Take everything out. If it is really dusty, vacuum it first. Wipe shelves, drawers, poles down. are great for shoe marks on walls, oil stains by hinges, etc. Somehow I usually have red marks of baseboards, etc so Mr. Clean is great for those too. I think it is magic. Watch for them to be on sale and get a few for your next cleaning project. These erasers are crazy- they disappear as you go and when it is down to nothing, get another one! Wipe down the baseboards- I like to use wet wipes, but a cloth or eraser works great, too. The vacuum is my best friend – vacuum the area before putting anything back.
UNDER THE BED: Move everything out and get that super long extension for your vacuum and vacuum under the bed. Consider buying bins under the bed to put items back.
LABELS: I have stickers that I can use to label bins. I usually use the address label size. If it’s a large bin I use 1/2 sheet of cardstock and write what is on it. I also have a LABEL MAKER. It might be my favorite thing in the whole world. It is smaller, though for smaller bins. I have a
BINS: I watch for them to go on sale or get them at Costco or Sams Club. Measure the space you are going to put them (top shelf of your closet) and buy what fits when it is a good price. I have a few different sizes I like- small for pens markers, medium for bins I keep in shelves in my closets and large for memories or larger items like sheet sets, etc.
TRY IT, YOU’LL LIKE IT!