The singular most important thing you can do to keep your child’s room tidy is to get them to own it! Tell your kids their room is like their own little apartment. It is. It is their personal space and if they can take ownership, I believe it will be a game changer!
They will better care for and respect their belongings if they are allowed the freedom to choose what stays and what goes and even how to arrange and decorate their room. The more “power-to-choose” you delegate to them in the area of their personal belongings, the more, they’ll actually want to maintain order.
That’s exactly what happened for me with my middle child. He is creative and inventive and actually likes order but was consistently struggling to keep his stuff off the floor. Suggesting the idea of his room being his “little apartment” seemed to help him take pride and ownership of the appearance of his space and his floor has been clean and clear!
In every kid’s room I have seen, the common denominator is the fact that kids simply own too much stuff! Their room is overflowing with all kinds of toys, books, clothes, shoes, accessories, collections and just plain trash! Often there is a mix of clean and dirty clothes on the floor along with a mixture of all the items mentioned above. If their room is in chaos and disorder, they won’t want to spend any time in there and neither will anyone else. I suggest using the furniture in the room to create physical boundaries for their items (i.e. when the lid on the toy box no longer closes, it’s time to get rid of some things and no new toys can enter the room).
The last thing they need is MORE. But I’m going to suggest it anyway! I recommend adding three things to your child’s room if they don’t already have them: A trash can, a laundry basket, and a donation box for items they no longer want. Don’t worry! we’ll find a place to put these potentially bulky items, once we purge!!
Clothes: Get all the dirty clothes out. Pile all the clean clothes on a clear “palette” (the bed). Sort through each article and make a decision. If it fits and if it loved, place it in the “keep” pile; If not, toss into their donation box. Don’t get hung up on how much you paid for it; it no longer works for this child so it must go. If possible, hang all shirts and tops. It is helpful for kids to visually see everything they own if it is hung. Smaller items can go in labeled drawers.
Toys, books, games, shoes: working with one category at a time, put all items in a pile in the center of the room and quickly sort: donate, trash, keep. Anything that is broken, has missing pieces, is outgrown or unloved has to go. Only keep what is loved and used. After this big purging process, your child will find it much easier to care for the remaining items and keep the room tidy.
Paper: most paper in the child’s can go straight to “file 13”; trash (read recycle). There are those “treasures” however, that they’ll want to hang onto. We do two things with the “keep” papers. We’ll hang them or put then in their 3-ring binder of keepsakes. They choose what is kept and whether it is displayed or stored. The wall space acts as a natural boundary limit. If there’s no additional room to display, then something needs to come down.
Bottom line: get your kids to “own” their space and give them freedom to make decisions about their stuff. Give them guidance and boundaries using existing furniture in the room to set physical limits and “maximum capacity” for their stuff.
And lastly, give grace. Progress trumps perfection. The goal is to empower our kids not to control them.
Happy organizing and happy parenting!