This is the second post in a series. For the first post, please start with the bedroom.
And now, let’s look at your child’s bedroom. I am willing to bet your child’s bedroom has been the source of some arguments. It’s a universal situation. Layer upon layer of stuff makes it difficult to even walk into the bedroom so it can be cleaned! It is amazing how quickly a child’s bedroom can become a disaster area. Some parents decide that they are tired of arguing, shut the door to the bedroom, and decide never to look in there again. If the child can live that way, fine. However, part of your brain knows the Bermuda Triangle is lurking behind that closed door, and that causes a certain amount of anxiety.
I am with you in spirit, so let’s open that door! I don’t feel it’s necessary to describe the disaster in front of you, as I probably couldn’t do it justice. The best way to approach this is to divide the room up into zones – the bed, the nightstand, the desk, the closet, the chest of drawers, and anything else that might be in there. I know it all runs into each other, but little by little, we will get it under control. Set your timer for 15 minutes and approach one zone. It would be helpful to have a trash bag, a box for donations and a box for stuff to keep and put away later. If it’s broken, it’s trash. If it’s too small, it’s a donation. If it’s something your child has forgotten exists, it’s a donation. If it’s stuff your child is using, it goes in the keep box to put away later. I suggest a keep box because there may not be anywhere to put stuff until you get the room in better shape. I have not put in any suggestions about how to talk with your child about keeping the room clean. That is a different post. Also, there is a lot of information on the internet about different things to try. I will mention one thing I haven’t seen though. I knew a man who would put a rake outside his child’s door as a sign that if the room wasn’t picked up in a certain period of time, he would come in and just rake the stuff in the trash. Worked for him. Also, he didn’t have to say a word.
After you get the room cleared, you can start putting stuff where it will live. If you notice that there is too much stuff for the amount of space you have, you will have to make some decisions. Everything has to fit in that room, or in a room designated as a playroom or little by little, kid stuff will travel out into the other parts of the house like a glacier. Children do not need that much stuff. It is probably causing them anxiety too. You will feel calmer, and they will too. One place you could think about taking the donations is the domestic abuse center in your area. Very often, families arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The children would appreciate having something to play with and to wear. This knowledge may make it easier for your child to part with some of his/her excess. Once you get the room under control, it is a good idea to have a simple rule like in order to bring something new in, it has to fit in the room (easily). If not, something else needs to go to make room for it. I understand that children come with lots of “stuff”. I want to empower you though, so I will remind you that YOU are the adult and this is YOUR house. You are not depriving your child of things – you are creating an environment which will honor all the members of your household. You are also passing down a way of life to your child that will help them as they get older. The biggest hurdle to cleaning a child’s room is making it easy to pick up. Everything has to have a place and it has to be easy to put it there. Oops! This is my longest post ever, so I’ll stop preaching now!