Moms around the world are forever haggling with their kids to pick up used bath towels, pack away toys, clean up the mess and keep their rooms clean. For the most part, kids have developed selective hearing and anguished moms come to the realisation that asking a child to keep their room neat and tidy is similar to asking a dog to walk on its hind legs! Both can be accomplished but it’s going to take a lot of teaching, training, diligence and dedication!
Where there a will there’s a way, and there are ways and means to get around a jumbled kid’s room. Moms must be willing to go the distance and with a little work and a lot of patience, a child’s room can take on a whole new look – neat and orderly.
Clear the clutter
Kids the collectors! This is especially true for little boys. Boys have a very mysterious ability to locate and pick up the strangest items and bring it home. When going through the clutter of a boy’s room, moms are shocked to find the strangest assortment of objects (from beheaded action figures, three-wheeled cars, two-legged dragons, and fossilised lizards, among other strange and eerie objects). Boys tend to be collectors and their collections usually end up in a dishevelled pile under the bed, tucked away in a drawer, or worse – in their pockets! The first attempt at keeping a collecting kid’s room clean is to clear up the odds and sods which will never be used (ever). This may be met with a lot of protesting and it will become mom’s turn to develop selective hearing. Bag the clutter and dispose. This act of de-cluttering generally needs to be carried each and every week (depending on the speed the intrepid collector works at)!
The biggest reason for kids not putting away toys and shoes is that kids have a limited attention span and they have far more important things on their mind! Once their shoes and socks are kicked off, they’re already rushing out the door or heading for the toy box to dig out their favourite toy. In a bid to keep a kid’s room organised – moms need to think like a kid (or be one step ahead). Invest in a range of brightly-colored containers, boxes or holders and mark each contain with words such as shoes, toys, games, etc. Make sure that the containers are placed at the child’s eye level and are easily accessible. If kids are unable to reach or open the container, the chances of the games or toys actually ending up in the holder are slim. When dealing with kids, simplicity works best and if you want a child to keep their room in a state of order, you are going to have to come up with fun and inventive ways to get them to do it.
Make sure that kids’ rooms are equipped with a laundry hampers and a dustbin and remember to encourage kids to put all soiled clothes in the hamper and rubbish in the dustbin.
Keep it fun and make it worth their while
This may sound like bribery but let’s face it, working parents who are always facing a never-ending list of things to do, are pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Cleaning is not high on anyone’s list of favourite things to do – least of all an adventurous and highly-spirited five-year-old. To keep kids motivated and to keep their room clean, offer a reward. This may be an ice-cream, a shiny R5 coin, or a visit to the park.
If room cleaning is seen as a fun adventure it may become slightly more appealing to the cynical five- year-old. Remember the story of Tom Sawyer, who convinced Huck Finn that whitewashing the fence was indeed fun? This clever way of disguising work can also be used to convince kids that keeping their rooms clean is fun! This may require talent, so parents will need to devise fun ways to show the kids just how fun it can be. Use your imagination and pull out all the stops, pretend the room is a deserted island and all the -wreckage’ needs to be collected.
Don’t expect too much
Don’t expect your kid’s room to be a work of art and never expect it to look like the cover of the kids rooms that are featured on glossy dÃ©cor and home magazines. This is not going to happen. As long as a child’s room is in a relative state of order, has no potential hazards and dangers, and clothing and shoes are packed away, try to ignore the pile of Lego blocks in the middle of the floor or the Barbie dolls that have been scattered about the room. Do a general once-off clean once a week where the linen is changed and try to encourage kids to pack away as much as possible but it may be better to turn a blind eye to the small messes and let kids to be kids. For moms who value order and strive to keep their house spic and span, this may be difficult, but continually arguing with a child over the state of their room is tiring and the pleas seem to fall on deaf ears!
Praise for a job well done
A four-year old who has proudly made their bed deserves a lot of praise, even if the duvet is lying haphazardly in a crumpled state in the centre of the bed. If it is evident that the tot is going out of their way to keep their room clean and please mom and dad – don’t be shy with the praise and try to avoid the temptation of redoing it!
When a child starts school it will become more and more important to keep a room in a state of order! Imagine rushing around a few minutes before leaving for school hunting for an elusive school shoe, or school book. With kids in school, parents need to take a firmer approach and actively encourage kids to pack away clothing, shoes, stationery, and so on.