I have a secret to share, but I really don’t want to accept, admit or share my secret. My now four and six year old children’s bedrooms and closets are a disaster on a day-to-day basis. The mess was containable and controllable when they were younger, but now it gets a little out of hand. Shhhh… don’t tell. The “toy organization lady” (as I am appropriately dubbed in my home town of Vienna) doesn’t always have an organized house.
Lucky for you, I took pictures of my children’s rooms on “clean-up day”- one of my favorite days that only happens every week or so. You can actually see the furniture, floor and shelves in the pictures. Don’t kid yourself- my children’s rooms don’t always look this neat and tidy, but nor should they. When it comes to kids, a clean room is an unused room. Toys should have a home and organization is a worthy goal to strive for, but if it becomes the highest priority it can hinder free-play and learning. Make an organization plan, do your best and let go of the rest.
But, how big of a mess is TOO big? When should parents draw the line? The answer lies in both you and your child’s temperament, your child’s age & stage and the time you have to devote to cleaning and organization. It is a balancing act. If you like your home tidy, your child is amendable to cleaning and you have time to devote to the task, then, by all means, make clean-up time a priority. The good news is that kids practice academic skills, develop grit and learn how to be a team-player during clean-up time. But, if you are anything like my family (both parents like a tidy home, the kids loathe cleanliness and we have just a bit of time to devote to cleaning) then take a deep breath, accept that family life is an imperfect life and set reasonable goals. My ideal is to clean up everyone’s room, the workspace and playroom twice a week, but realistically it is about one time a week.
Now that we have realistic goals in mind, let’s take a quick tour of my children’s clean rooms to get some organizational ideas to make clean-up time a little less of a nightmare.