Your cleaning checklist often includes your kids bedroom when they aren’t quite old enough to manage it themselves. Here are 6 tips to help you take care of it.
When it comes to organization and a strict cleaning checklist, there are few areas of the house that need it as badly as a child’s bedroom. Most of the time, the floor looks like a tornado of tiny clothes and toys, and it’s tough to find anything you need, especially during those mornings when you have to get out of the house but the socks, the shoes, and even that favorite dress are hiding underneath the bed or in a dresser drawer or even at the top of the closet. (How did that little one get up there, anyway?)
Though organizing a child’s room does take more effort and vigilance, it can be done. Here’s how to make it work so that your kid can find everything and you don’t go crazy in the process.
1. Start with the Big Purge
This is the tough part, so do it when your child is not around. That will help you avoid the inevitable ‘but I love this!’ and demands to keep toys that haven’t seen the light of day in the better part of a year, if not longer.
Toss toys that are broken, and pack up older toys to donate. By culling the toy herd yourself, you can keep the peace. But also keep your own resolve — do you really need to keep all of those too-small clothes? Choose a few to keep for posterity, and be prepared to donate the rest.
2. Start sorting
This is where you bring your child in to help. Start by sorting out what’s what — clothes go in a laundry basket, toys go into sorted piles, and you even crawl underneath the bed to find those things that are hiding. The toys should be separated by type, and then it’s time to present your child with the question: What stays and what goes?
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If you ask your child what toys he wants to ‘get rid of’ or what toys ‘must go,’ you will get the answer you expect: NONE of them will go! But if you ask your child which toys he might be willing to give away to another child who needs a toy, you will get a very different attitude.
Children have a sometimes overwhelming sense of compassion, and when faced with the idea that their old toys might go to someone who truly needs them, they are likely to help you fill up a bin or two with things destined for the local Goodwill.
3. Make organizing fun
Now is the time to bring out the bins, all in bright colors, that are destined to hold those toys. Clearly mark the bins with what goes in there, such as “Cars” or “Blocks” or “Doll Clothes.” Then help your child put the toys into the appropriate bins. Try to find bins that stack, or that slide under the bed, or even those that fit neatly on bookshelves.
Speaking of bookshelves, organize the most cherished possessions in a way that they can be seen and enjoyed all the time. This mean putting books on the shelves, then allowing your child to choose a few toys that get places of honor on the shelf, too. You might be surprised by which toys your child chooses as the ‘best’ ones in their room!
4. Clean all the clothes
When clothes are strewn around the room, it’s hard to know what is clean and what is not. Remember back during the Big Purge, when you put those clothes in the laundry basket? Do all that laundry, and then let your child help you put it all away in the appropriate drawers and closet space.
Just like the bins, label the drawers so things can be found easily, and hang clothes up with color-coded hangers: for instance, green for pants, yellow for shirts, and black for dressier attire.
5. Clean the room
It’s tougher to mess up a room that is sparkling clean; even a child recognizes how nice a pristine room can look. Vacuum or mop the floor, chase down all the dust bunnies, clean the shelves with a good spray cleaner (one that is non-toxic, of course!) and even clean the blades of the ceiling fan.
Make the bed with care, and even straighten the decorations on the walls if necessary. Your child will be proud of their room, and that is great incentive to keep it neat and organized.
6. Teach good habits
Now that the room is clean, ten minutes each day should be all it takes to keep it that way. Spend those ten minutes with your child as a family event, and as a workable unit in your cleaning checklist: It’s time to get the room ready for bed! The idea is that everything is in its proper place at bedtime.
The more you do this, the more your child will learn that keeping things neat and organized isn’t really all that difficult, and that realization can lead to great habits that last a lifetime.
What’s your process?
How do you help your kids manage their bedroom cleaning, and decluttering? Do you have any systems in place that work best for you? What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to your cleaning checklist in general?
Tell us your stories in the comments section of this post.