THE RULES for a Tidy Kid's Room

Keeping your kid’s room neat is a challenge for both kids and their parents. 

Most kids of any age seem completely unconcerned about the neatness of their bedrooms which can be a source of frustration for their parents. 

Every single child I have worked with on straightening up and organizing their bedroom has expressed relief and pride in having a tidy room. 

Shouting at them to clean up doesn’t help, and doing it yourself is not a solution.  They probably do not know how.  No worries! You can take charge of this! 

Here I’ve outlined the two- step process of organizing and setting the rules. You can teach your kids to independently keep their rooms neat and tidy!

Set your kids up for success!  They need the tools and a simple task list to make this easy.  Everything in your kid’s room needs a “home” or permanent place. 

Kids need to have clear instructions on where to put their things or they will end up everywhere.  It’s your job as a parent to help them decide the best place to keep their things and then teach them to stick to it.

Clothing maintenance is a life skill.  Teaching them now will benefit them forever.  Let’s get started! 

If you don’t already have these four things in your child’s room, here is what you need to buy:

1.       Hamper or Laundry basket

2.       Trashcan: small and to be used with a trash bag.

3.       Bin for off-season clothes: Large plastic storage bin with a lid.

4.       Bin for discards: any unwanted clothes or toys.  Medium sized container. This can be a plastic storage bin or fabric basket.  

Some of this may seem obvious, but bear with me because I want to give you each step. 

You will need to do the initial clean up and set up with your kid.  It will take a while, so dedicate a weekend morning or afternoon.  You may need to do two sessions (2 days). Do not try to work on this for more than 3 hours at a time.  Your kid will tune out and likely get irritable!  Most of the effort is at this phase but going forward cleaning up will be a snap!

Step 1: ORGANIZE

We will start with clothing.  All your child’s clothes should be washed and either put away in the closet or in drawers or…. Placed on the bed where they will be kept clean during this phase.

Next, starting with the closet, you will need to help your child purge their clothes.  Go through each piece of clothing with your child (if they are old enough to participate) and determine what they are going to keep.  Anything that does not fit or is tattered or they do not like (will not wear) needs to be put in the bin for unwanted clothes.  Then, do the same for the dressers. 

Why have a permanent bin for unwanted clothes?  Because weeding through our clothes is a continuous process. As we are picking out clothes for the day we may notice something is old or tattered or doesn’t fit or we simply do not like it. 

Do not ignore these clothes and leave them to take up valuable space!  Having a place to store them until you are ready to take them to the thrift store or give them away encourages you to take- action now and dispose of the item and not allow it to clutter up your closet or drawer.  Also, it’s not practical or efficient to take one item to the thrift store.  Fill the bin, then dispose of the whole lot at once.

Discuss with your child where you plan to take these things.  Kids feel happy when they are generous and will feel good knowing their things will do good for someone else!

Where should you keep it?  In the closet is a good place if you have the space.  If not, you can tuck it away between a dresser and a wall. 

Next, have your off-season bin ready.  Organize clothing by category:  school clothes vs “play” or casual clothes.  This only matters if your kid has this distinction in clothing.  School uniforms should be hung in the closet in the front or prominent space. 

Why hang school clothes separately?  Because having your school clothes clean and ready to go helps any child start the day off right!

You can divide the closet, left and right and dedicate one side to school clothes.  These should follow category too, shirts or blouses, then pants or skirts or dresses.  Behind these or on the other opposite side of the closet hang as much as possible of your child’s clothes excluding t-shirts and sweaters: pants, jeans, shirts, blouses, skirts, dresses.   Formal clothing, like suits or gowns should be at the back of the closet. 

As you are sorting through, any off-season clothes need to be folded and placed in the off-season bin.  Generally, there are 2 seasons- warm for Spring and Summer and cold for Fall and Winter.

Why separate your clothing by season?  Because it keeps your clothes relevant to what you are actually wearing, keeps your closet and drawers uncluttered and gives you an opportunity twice a year to review and assess your clothing! Dispose of what doesn’t fit or what you no longer want.  

When is the best time to make the switch?  For the Fall/Winter season late September or early October usually works best and for Spring/Summer choose late April or early May.

Next, we will tackle the dressers!  Dump out the dressers contents onto the bed.  Then from top to bottom organize the drawers by category:  Underwear and socks (stockings), shirts, sweaters, and pants. Drawer dividers work well if you have wide drawers and are going to put the underwear and socks in the same drawer. 

For shirts, I recommend rolling them.  This is a method of folding and then rolling.  I like this way best because you can fit more shirts in your drawer and individually see them better.  When you fold and pile them on top of each other you cannot see the ones underneath very well.  You also end up pulling out the bottom ones causing the top ones to rumple and your once neat drawer is instantly a mess.  The rolling method is much easier for kids plus they think it looks cool.

 

Sweaters need to be folded and either put in the dresser or on a shelf in the closet. Sweaters should not be hung or rolled.      

Clothing is done! 

Let’s move on to your kid’s other possessions.  Mainly these are toys, books and school or craft supplies.  These all need a designated “home”. Some suggestions are: 

DESK:  The desk and/or bookshelves for school supplies and school books.

TABLE:  A table (or part of desk) for craft or art supplies.

BINS:  Use bins or containers for small items and collections. These can be clear so you can see what is inside of them or color coded and labeled to make it easier to sort.

BOOKSHELVES:  I love bookshelves!  Of course, they are wonderful for books, but they make great storage for smaller bins, collections and proud displays of your child’s creations or even awards. 

TOY BOX:  A traditional toy box is always a great idea and can be transitioned to a keepsake storage trunk as the kids grow.

JUNK DRAWER:  It's allowed!  Usually older kids will start a junk drawer.  It’s a transition from the catch all toy box.  Feel free to use it.  As a common- sense approach, only have one of these and when it starts to overflow, your child will have to clean it out.  Other than that, leave it be.

TRASH CAN:  For obvious reasons kids need a trash can, but please skip the “wastepaper basket” kind and use a trash bag.  Why? Because kids are gross and they will put things in there that should belong in the bathroom trash can and even though you tell them not to- they will put banana peels or sticky candy wrappers in there.

Step Two: THE RULES

1.      Make your bed every day. This can be made simply by just pulling up the bed cover and placing the pillow on top. Nothing fancy required.

2.      Put your things away where they belong. Everything has a place now, so if you take it out put it away before you start the next task (or play). Put your books away, put the crayons away.  Make a special time in the evening to do a quick tidying.  A good time might be after you get into your pjs and brush your teeth.  

3.      Clothing (dirty clothes) goes immediately into the hamper, never on the floor. So, when you are getting into your pjs- clothes from that day go into hamper. Towels: Hang it up right away.  (Parents: Please collect your kids hampers regularly, once or twice a week.)

4.      Laundry (clean clothes): put away, right away.  Parents can put clean laundry on the kid’s bed and it will be the kid's job to put it away.  Age appropriate of course, but by age 7 kids should be able to put away their own clothes.

5.      Take out your trash at least once a week. Pick a day. Sunday is good so you can start off your school week tidy.

6.      Seasonal clothing switch:  Twice a year at the change of season, switch out your clothing from closet to bins and assess what to keep, store or dispose of.

7.      Declutter:  Put your unwanted clothes, toys, books etc. in the bin for discards.

Your child may not become Martha Stewart overnight, but these tips will help them (and you) keep their room under control.  If things get messy again, no yelling is necessary.  Just send them back to their room with their list and allow them to take control of the mess themselves.  Here is a list you can download and customize for your child. Print it and pin it up inside their closet door. 

Need help on customizing solutions for your kid’s room?  Contact me to set up an appointment!