Full disclosure. When I was growing up it was not uncommon for my Mom to call my room a ‘pigsty’. Whenever a client shows me their messy child’s room, I often offer up this tidbit as a way of sharing some hope. After all, if the girl with a pigsty for a room could grow up to be an Organizer for a living, there’s hope for us all!
Here’s some of the mistakes you can avoid and move from mess to success in your child’s room:
Mistake #1: Too much stuff
I know it seems annoyingly simple, but it’s the truth. If their room is filled with books and toys, it’s no wonder they have a hard time keeping things tidy. As I tell parents all the time “Your kids mess is equal to: a) the amount of stuff they have and b) your rules about how and when to clean it up.”
Let’s look at books. Even if they love to read, limit their bookshelf to no more than 20 books. If you want to keep more, they can be stored on a bookshelf in another room – They don’t ALL need to be in their room. Same thing with toys – A few choice toys (we let our son choose 2 toys he can take to his bedroom every night) – and the rest are stored someplace else. Anyway, you get the picture. The formula is simple: Less stuff = Less mess!
Mistake #2: Too much storage
This often goes hand-in-hand with mistake #1 but it does make a big difference. If you have a book shelf, a dresser, a nightstand and a toy box, it stands to reason they will all pile up with stuff. Keep the storage to a minimum and remember that kids love to have open space to play. Here is a great example of a kids room we re-organized: He has a toy shelf, a book shelf, a large dresser and a nightstand.
In order to ensure a more organized space, we replaced the 8 square storage unit with a 4 square one and got rid of the extra bookshelf. We did keep the dresser, but put it in the corner of the room where the bed was and moved the bed by the window. It opened up the space and immediately felt cleaner and more organized.
Mistake #3: Not setting a good example*
I have been in houses where clients have walked me through their disorganized space to show me their messy child’s room. As I’ve come to realize since I had a child, living in some temporary chaos is normal, but if you’re never taking the time to put things way or get organized yourself, you can’t expect your child to do it either.
And understand that good organizational skills aren’t always intuitive – often they have to be taught. So when you tell them to clean their room, outline what that means: Throw trash in the garbage, set aside items to donate or sell and make sure everything they own fits in the storage items provided.
(*It should be noted that this was NOT the case in my house. My Mom was an incredible housekeeper and took pride in a clean and organized home. I believe this is why, once I got my own place, I was exactly the same way and eventually found my calling as a Professional Organizer.)
Most of us are guilty of over buying stuff for our kids – we want them to have more than what we had, which is ok until it drives you to the point of insanity. Be generous, but reasonable and always remember that ‘stuff’ will never take the place of our time and attention. So if you want to be generous, be generous with that.