Want Peace on Mother’s Day?
GO CLEAN YOUR ROOM. NOW. I MEAN IT. ONE…TWO…DON’T MAKE ME GET TO THREE!
How many times has this scenario played out in your house? Why don’t your kids just do what you ask? You may be surprised to know the answer — they have absolutely no idea what you mean. Clean what? How? Put things where?
Horseback riding is Sara’s (not her real name) most favorite thing to do. Archie is her beloved horse. At 13 years old, she’s already an accomplished rider, having taken riding lessons for five years and winning countless ribbons that are proudly displayed in her bedroom. An honor student with a packed schedule, nothing is more important to her than her riding lessons. She never misses them. Except once — to work with me for our second session! That was one of the greatest professional compliments I’ve ever received.
The problem was her disorganized, messy bedroom, the source of screaming matches with her mom.
Her mom hired me to work with Sara. I love working with kids. They have a unique energy. So far, my youngest “client” was five. But I digress.
No matter what the child’s age, I work alone with kids. Even though I’m a stranger to them, they know I am Not Mom. Because I am Not Mom, they listen to me, even though I’ll likely say some of the same things mom has already told them 2,749 times.
Sara’s room (pictured above) and walk-in closet were large. Very large. There were several large dressers too. That was part of the problem; there were too many places to put things. When I asked Sara what her issues were, she told me she didn’t know what she had, there were no places for things, her disorganization wastes time and causes stress, and she’s embarrassed to have friends in her room. I hear the same comments from my adult clients.
Her bedroom wasn’t that messy compared to many I’ve organized. But it’s not about the quantity of the mess; it’s whether the mess affects you. If it’s bothersome, it needs fixing. It bothered Sara.
The first step was to declutter (which is NOT the same as organizing — it’s just the first step of the process) until everything she no longer wanted was removed. The next step was to organize what remained. We started in the closet with the hanging clothes. Sara wanted to use color to sort clothes so red shirts were grouped together, then blue shirts and so on until all shirts were organized. We did the same with the rest of her hanging and folded clothes in the closet. Then we followed a similar process with clothes in drawers. In two deep drawers, there were socks. Lots of socks. She eliminated about three-quarters of them.
Next, her desk was organized so everything was easily accessible. Then books she no longer wanted were boxed for donation and the rest were organized by author and category. Now that everything had a home, I explained how to maintain the organization. Sara shared with me that doing this was fun. My kinda gal!
To help your child get organized, clearly state your expectations and show them exactly what to do. Repeat as necessary. Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. Teach them their A, B, Cs — Always Be Clearing. As soon as something becomes clutter, get rid of it.
2. Toddlers can learn simple tasks like putting toys on low shelves or stuffed animals in a basket.
3. Don’t use large containers for small toys. Small items fall to the bottom. Kids can’t see what’s under the top layer so either they’ll dump the entire contents or just ignore what isn’t visible.
4. Have separate upstairs toys and downstairs toys.
5. Use the pockets of an over-the-door shoe organizer for smaller toys and dolls.
6. Put bins in the closet to collect outgrown clothes and toys for donation.
7. Use shelves to display favorite things and foster individuality.
8. Create homes (places) for everything and teach your child to return things to their homes after use.
9. Put a wastebasket in every room and put recycle bins in some rooms.
10. Praise your child when doing well and give gentle reminders as necessary. If you want a good outcome, be positive, not punitive.
For many more tips, click here to read my published article titled Conquering Kids’ Clutter.
For children to succeed in life, organization is one of the best things you can teach them! I know this for a fact because my super-organized parents taught me starting at birth. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional organizer, you’ll be giving them an invaluable lifelong skill.
If you want peace on Mother’s Day, don’t tell your kids to clean their rooms! Happy Mother’s Day!
Product of the Month
Vistaprint.com sells Mommy Cards. They’re like business cards but for moms. They include information such as your child’s name, your name and emergency contact info, allergies, doctor’s name and phone number, or other pertinent information. To see sample cards and to order, click here.
Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed. ~Robert Gallagher
My May Engagement
Saturday, May 10 — Co-presenter at a monthly workshop called Second Saturday for women in transition due to divorce or widowhood. Hosted by the Women’s Independence Network, workshops are held 9:00 am-12:00 pm at Montgomery County Community College. Any women going through this transition who is in need of support and resources is welcome. Register here no later than 3:00 pm on the preceding Friday.