Here's a perfect opportunity to recruit your children for some quality organizing time. If you start the project with a positive attitude, you both will benefit:
- clutter will be minimized;
- both you and your child will know where things "live";
- you'll lower the chances that the room will ever be as cluttered again as when you started;
- you'll get to know each other in a new way.
So, to tackle this task, use the following tips as guidelines:
- Make an appointment with your child to spend some serious time on this first effort - a weekend day is probably best. Mark the family calendar, and be sure to keep the appointment. This is strong message to your child that this task is important to both of you.
- On the appointed day, express how enthused you are that you both are working together to create a better place for your child's homework, private time, and sleeping space. Then, treat your child as your partner in this effort. Ask what's most important, what's causing problems, what's already working well. You may even want to take some "before" pictures to compare later.
- Start your work together on a part of the room that will bring you easy success, perhaps the closet. Unload the contents onto the bed or the floor (you may need to clear some space to work!) and begin to sort - things to keep, things to throw away, things to donate, and things that belong somewhere else. Have large plastic bags, bins, or cardboard boxes ready for the throwaways, donation, and "somewhere else" items. Replace only the "keep" items in the closet, and identify with your child where the "things that belong somewhere else" should go.
- When you've completed this first step on the closet, be sure to admire the result - more space to find things, great job working together.
- Work your way around the rest of the bedroom, tackling one area at a time: dresser drawers, shelving, underbed storage (or hiding place for more stuff!), Repeat the sorting process, and identify the "best" places to keep the items that will remain in the room. For example, smaller children should be able to reach their most-used toys and books on lower shelves, while less-used items may be stored in plastic bins on higher shelves or in a closet. Keep like things together (books, a toy and its parts, TV/stereo equipment and the remote controls for it), and mark shelves, boxes, and bins to remind your child of what belongs where. Younger children will benefit from meaningful pictures, while older children can use just a word or two on a label.
- When the "keepers" are back in place, agree how you will handle the throwaways, donation items, and things that belong somewhere else. Once again, admire what you've accomplished together! Take some "after" pictures, and compare to the "befores" you took earlier - what a difference!
- When the room is well organized again, the work still isn't finished. Make an appointment with your child for the next week or two weeks. Plan to meet in the bedroom, take another look at the before and after pictures, and talk about what has changed since your work together. This is a great time to reinforce the good habits that are forming and to correct or modify the ones that haven't stuck.
- Above all, keep the effort positive to help assure that these good habits continue!