Happy Thursday! This summer I devoted much of my time to de-cluttering and re-organizing our kid's bedrooms. I have decorated and organized their spaces many times, but this time around the systems we have in place are working! So today I thought I would share a quick tour of Audrey's room as well as a few tips that have really helped us, I mean her, maintain it.
We now keep each of our children's toys in their rooms. We turned our previous playroom into a guest room. Our kid's are 8 and 4, girl and boy. They don't really share many of the same toys anymore. They each have their own toys, so it made more sense for us to let them each keep their belongings in their own rooms and be responsible for caring for their own spaces. With that said they still play together most of the time. We spend a lot of time outside, and they love to play games and do lots of imaginary play. Currently they enjoy playing Veterinarian and dress up to act out plays. Audrey does a lot of drawing and painting, and Roby loves nothing more than his toy tractor collection. When we did our first big toy clean out about a year ago, I did away with most battery operated toys and other items that didn't encourage them to use their imaginations. Below are my best tips for getting your kids on board so they can tidy and maintain their own rooms!
Let go of your perfectionist ways. This was my biggest challenge. When it comes to our house I like things a certain way. I don't really care for bright colors or too many knick knacks sitting around. My Audrey LOVES hot pink, knick knacks, and wild patterns.
For years I decorated her room the way I wanted it instead of asking her what would make her smile when she walked into her room. I discovered the most amazing thing. When I let her paint one of her walls bright pink, and I worked around her little knick knacks instead of trying to sneak them in a box in the attic, she immediately became more interested in keeping her room tidy.
The sweet farmhouse style girl's bedroom I envisioned just wasn't her thing, but we met in the middle on the knick knacks. I hung a shelf on her wall designated for her little ceramic animals, figurines, etc. Once the shelf is full, that's it. The ones that don't fit are in a box in the attic. She rotates them in and out from time to time.
Design the room with YOUR child in mind rather than focusing so much on copying an image from Pinterest. Don't get me wrong, Pinterest is an awesome resource for inspiration, but it's so easy to forget your end goal when you're swept away in the perfect world of Pinterest. For me the ultimate goal was to create a room that my daughter would enjoy and be able to keep organized and tidy on her own. Pay close attention to their playing habits and what they truly enjoy doing.
Audrey loves to pick out her own jewelry and style her own hair. She likes lotions and body spray, all that girly stuff! We created what we call her beauty drawer. It contains all those things neatly organized into smaller containers and it's all hers. No more finding my beauty products scattered through out her room! She feels special having her own set up and products, so she enjoys keeping her special beauty drawer nice and organized.
The remaining two drawers of her white dresser are filled with things she loves as well. One drawer is for doctor/vet playing stuff, and the last drawer is full of the things she uses to play school. If the drawer won't hold it, it doesn't get to stay! Everything has a home, so it's easy to know where to put it all when play time is over.
Audrey loves playing with baby dolls and she enjoys her American Girl dolls as well! As you see she has several baby doll accessories, beds, and high chairs. Usually having so many little things sitting would drive me batty, but she really enjoys each and every baby item she has and she plays with them, so they get to stay. If something isn't loved, played with regularly, and well cared for, we find another home for it.
Keep stuffed animals in rotation. Stuffed animals are one of those things that can take over pretty quickly. The pink bucket you see above is for stuffed animals. Once the bucket is full, no more. If there are more than the bucket will hold that she is not ready to part with yet, they go in a tote in the attic for rotation.
Create a nothing under the bed rule. I tried several times to utilize the space underneath her bed for storage, but time after time I would find things randomly stuffed under there instead of being properly put away, so I did away with that. Another plus to this rule is that it makes vacuuming and mopping under the bed much easier!
Let them be a part of the actual work. For years I would spend all day cleaning and organizing her room by myself. It's no wonder it never stayed tidy because she didn't feel a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. I was doing all the work and then just expecting her to keep things like I had them. That didn't work.
We recently created a desk/art station in her room. My grandpa gave me this little cart that he was throwing out and I decided to let Audrey use it to organize her art supplies however she wanted. I provided her with the caddy and several of my Ipsy makeup bags. (She has a thing for putting stuff in baggies) Since she did the work, she enjoys keeping it orderly.
Conduct regular de-cluttering/clean out sessions. I especially like to do these before birthdays and Christmas, but really we spend time purging and donating items each month. I like only keeping what my kids truly enjoy and play with, nothing else. If it's something that they no longer play with, but we consider it a keepsake, it goes in the attic for storage.
Loosen up, don't expect perfection. The me a few years ago would have never shared these photos in a blog post. Why? Because I would have made silly changes like evening up the bedding, removing a few of the baby doll accessories sitting around, styling the night stand, adjusting the items on the dressers just so, etc. before snapping photos. But not this time. My Audrey maintains her own room now and I am so proud of her. If I go along behind her correcting silly things, then she will only get discouraged and think she isn't doing a good job. I would never want her to feel that way.
Have clear expectations, check their work, and praise them for a job well done! Once Audrey's room was completely de-cluttered and organized, she and I did a walk through and talked about where everything goes, the importance of keeping a tidy space, and why caring for our belongings is important. We also chatted about what is expected of her. When kids have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, it's more likely they will get the job done. Correctly.
Check their work. If you expect your kids not to stuff things under their beds during clean up time, it's probably a good idea to check that area each time they clean up. Checking their work helps keep everyone on task and offers a great opportunity to praise them for doing such a great job. These kind of skills will stay with them their entire life, so it's definitely worth the initial time investment!
Create a routine and stay consistent. It's great to have systems in place and all the details worked out, but if we don't follow through and stay consistent, none of that really matters. This is where creating a routine comes to play.
Around here we do "clean up time" right before dinner. Each child is responsible for putting away anything that they have brought downstairs to play with as well as tidying their bedrooms. This allows for a peaceful dinner and evening. After dinner we have down time. They read or watch a short show, they take their showers, and we all get ready for bed. Now that we are in the groove of things, the kid's are able to complete clean up time in 5 to 10 minutes, then I come and check their work before we eat dinner. It has become second nature, and our home runs so much smoother now.
There are times when things don't go exactly as we have planned. Every Wednesday evening we have gymnastics, so our routine shifts a bit. We enjoy spending time with friends and family on weekends, so we are not always home during the evenings for clean up time. Having a plan and a routine helps us easily jump back into the swing of things when the week begins, and it's never really a big deal.
I hope you will find a few of these tips helpful and remember it doesn't happen overnight. It took us all Summer to complete the process of pairing down and getting organized in the kid's rooms, but I promise it's worth it!
Have a BLESSED day!