Spring Cleaning Party: Getting Control of the Kids’ Rooms

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Depending on how many children you have and how long it’s been since you’ve really cleaned their rooms, our task for today and tomorrow could keep you very busy! We’re tackling our kids’ rooms to declutter, organize and clean them. As with every other area we’ve done so far, kids’ rooms come with their own unique challenges and can be overwhelming to approach, but the payoff will be worth it!

I still remember the year my mom cleaned out my room while I was at school, cleaning out bags and bags of stuff. Unfortunately, included in the giveaway pile were two jumbo coloring books (the kind you lay on the floor and color because they’re so big!) that I still wanted, and I was really upset to find out they were gone (upset enough that I still remember it to this day!). For that reason, I’d echo the encouragement from Tsh’s ebook to get your kids involved as you declutter, organize and clean their rooms.

Encourage them to make some tough choices about what to keep and what to give away and to take ownership over their things and their space. Although it may actually make more work for you, letting them be involved in the process now gives them skills and tools that will help them control the clutter throughout the rest of their lives.

Let’s look at a few practical tips for organizing kids rooms:

Clothes

Let’s face it, most kids these days have way too many clothes. My grandma and her friend were at my house visiting last week, and they talked about how much cuter kids clothes (especially for boys) are now and how it makes it so much harder to resist buying them than when they were raising their own children.

My girls are no exception, and despite my best effort to minimize the amount of clothes they have, the closet is still overflowing. We’ve looked at both laundry tips and seasonal wardrobe tips in the past, but here are a few more:

For small children who aren’t yet old enough to put away their own clothes and keep them organized, consider a family closet in or near the laundry room. This is more of a laundry tip than a kids’ room tip, but having my girls’ clothes in the laundry room has made a huge difference in my ability to get it all put away once it’s folded. I love not having to trek across the house with all the clean clothes anymore!

Decide how many outfits you want each child to have before rotating their seasonal wardrobes and then stick to that number to eliminate clutter. I’ve already admitted that I failed at this one this year, but I’m determined to keep trying because having too many clothes really does make everything more cluttered, harder to put away and harder to keep organized.

Tsh has more to say in her post about minimizing children’s clothing, with some great tips on deciding what they really need.

Books

I’m a huge proponent of keeping a few books in each room. Each of my girls has a stack of books that we regularly rotate, and I love sneaking up and seeing them sitting on their beds flipping through the pages.

For younger children who may not be as careful with pages but still want “big kid” books rather than board books, keep a special stash of books that can get beat up and torn without making you cry and replaced as needed. Tearing up a book on purpose is a punishable offense in our house, but even my 20-month-old prefers paper books, and I have some that I keep on her level that I know will inevitably get beat up over time. I believe that allowing them to have their own books and “read” when they want is an important enough thing that my goal is to encourage gentleness and try to prevent any purposeful tearing without restricting her access to books. I do keep heirloom books, expensive treasuries and our school books on a shelf downstairs and reserved for times when we’re all together and I can watch them more carefully.

Keep books on a low shelf or at the end of the bed for easy access, but remember that kids only need a few at a time to choose from because they love to look through the same ones again and again.

Tsh and I have slightly different takes on this subject, but we both love books and want to encourage our children to love to read. I think this is a perfect example of doing things your way. Although she and I often agree, which may make it seem like there is a right way and a wrong way to organize, the fact is that a lot of it comes down to a family’s personal goals and preferences. The goal of organizing is not to meet other people’s expectations but to bring order and simplicity in your home!

Toys

I’m a minimalist when it comes to my kids’ rooms because I know that the less that they have in their room, the less we’ll have to clean up. Thankfully, we have a loft with a large wardrobe where most of our toys are kept, and we simply rotate 1-2 toys each afternoon during quiet time.

Tomorrow we’ll be focusing specifically on toys, so be sure to stop back in then!

“Clean Up Your Room!”

When I attended the webinar hosted by Office Max and featuring Peter Walsh from TLC’s Clean Sweep a few weeks ago, there were many things he said that really struck a cord with a lot of us. One in particular was that our children will learn to be orderly and organized from our examples. I know this is true in my home, and I’m thankful that even at 3 and 4 years old, my girls can clean up their own room. They often do it without me asking, or I’ll simply ask them to clean up before they come down for the day, and they do.

Here are a few tips for encouraging kids to clean up their rooms:

  • Keep the stuff to a minimum. I have no doubt that if my girls had more in their room, they would not be as willing or able to straighten it up. As it is, they have a few stuffed animals, one or two toy sets, some books and a little box of treasures. Even when everything in their room is pulled out at once, it’s not overwhelming to look at, and it doesn’t take them long to clean it up, both of which eliminate most of the whining and complaining when I ask them to do it!
  • Start when they’re little. Each morning when I get my toddler out of her crib, I start by folding her blanket and straightening all of her toys and stuffed animals at the foot of the bed. I’ve been doing this as part of our morning routine since she was old enough to have blankets and toys, and I get her involved by asking her to hand things to me or help me put things away.
  • Don’t criticize, complain or redo what they’ve done. Although there is a time and a place for training children to make their beds or  how to organize toys and books on a shelf, I’d encourage you to bite your tongue and sit on your hands whenever they take the initiative of cleaning up by themselves. When I’m working with my girls to clean up, I’ll often give instructions about where things should go or how we could do it better, but when they do it on their own, I work very hard not to do anything other than praise their effort and initiative. We wouldn’t want our husbands to come home and criticize the way we’ve done the laundry or reorganize the kitchen behind us, and I don’t think it’s fair to do that to our children either!

What is the biggest source of frustration when it comes to keeping your kids’ rooms straight? Do you plan to get your children involved as you spring clean their rooms?

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