If there’s one room you wish you could lock up and never look at again, it’s probably your kid’s room. (Or maybe your basement, or your laundry room…OK, there are a lot of rooms.) But thanks to toys, books, clothes, and crafts, children’s rooms can feel especially disastrous — especially since a certain little guy or gal never seems to be keen on keeping it tidy.
Is all hope lost? Absolutely not.
Professional organizing coach Maeve Richmond allowed us to be a fly on the wall as she helped entrepreneur and mom Dawn Nadeau organize her 7-year-old daughter Abigail’s room (and the rest of her home, actually). As you’ll see below, Richmond is quite the force, helping Nadeau take the room from cluttered to clean in just a few hours. Obviously, we had to grill her on her tips afterward — and we bet you’ve never tried these strategies before:
1. Involve your kids from the beginning.
“It’s very important to work with them, and not around them,” says Richmond, who chatted with Nadeau’s daughter before they cleared and re-organized her room. “Kids as young as 3 years old really want to participate, and they’re really excited to be involved.” You might think your kid would get too bored or frustrated talking about bedroom storage — but consider it from their point of view: You’re just gabbing about their toys and paying them lots of attention!
Plus, if kids are involved in organizing, they’ll feel ownership over the project and more inclined to keep things tidy — or at the very least, they’ll know where everything should go.
2. Have kids give you a tour of the room before you start decluttering.
“I start not by asking kids to choose what should stay or go, but by giving them a chance to look around and show me what’s there,” says Richmond. “Then I get a sense of their language and tone, which can illuminate things that are important to them.”
“I mirror back people’s language to them while organizing with them — for instance, let’s say a kid calls a piece of clothing his ‘favorite sweater.’ I’ll call it that, too, because it says I recognize that it’s meaningful to them, and proves that I’m on their side.”
Building that trust is important when asking kids to part with items (and now you’ll be able to tell more clearly what things they clearly don’t care about.)
4. Give your kid permission to let go of stuff they really don’t want.
“Volume can be very overwhelming for children,” says Richmond. “But most kids don’t know that it’s OK to say no to stuff they don’t want. I like to try to set up situations in which we’re donating items to charity — it continues the idea of using positive language when it comes to decluttering. We’re giving the item a new home, not just getting rid of it.”
5. Start from the bottom up – literally.
“With little ones especially, it’s just nice to start on the ground — that’s where they are!” says Richmond. Her “bottom up” strategy takes the process down to kids’ level and keeps them grounded in the task. Plus, if they can see where their items’ new homes are, they’ll make a habit of placing them there.
6. Reinforce their routine with cubbies.
“I love cubbies as an organizing tool for kids because it recreates what they’re experiencing at school,” says Richmond. “And you can place them in the entryway or their room, creating a ‘drop zone’ area they’ll naturally maintain. With a cubby they can drop their stuff, and not even have to think about it.”
7. Count to 10.
Here’s an easy fact to remember: Games are fun! So when things get messy (as they always do), make cleaning up feel like play. “Have kids count backward and pick up ten items to put back in their homes at the end of the day,” says Richmond. “It makes the task less onerous, and encourages you talk out loud about where items go, which can reinforce the habit for both of you and your kids — I use this strategy on adults, too, and it totally works. I even do it, too!”
8. Define boundaries with decor.
“Whenever I am working in a child’s room, I always like to bring tables away from walls,” says Richmond. “Parents don’t tend to do this, as it seems like wasted space. But pulling the table away from the wall allows kids to move more freely and fully around it, and welcome friends.”
“I also like to add a rug under the table, though,” she continues. “It visually anchors the room — and their stuff — but creates a mini room within the room. Kids’ rooms tend to just be one big space, which is why they tend to get super busy.” By creating this distinct boundary, it’s easier to identify and honor the activities (like, say, glitter crafts) that should only take place in certain spots.
9. Lead by example.
You were probably waiting for this one right? “Leading by example is huge,” says Richmond. “Kids mirror what their parents are doing. Sometimes you need to look at yourself and really see if your kids are modeling your behavior.” Even something as small as putting away your keys can be a mini-lesson in action.
Not as tidy as you’d prefer to be? Good thing Richmond gave us her secrets for how adults can change their lives and finally get organized, too.
Please note that this Scottsdale Real Estate Blog is for informational purposes and not intended to take the place of a licensed Scottsdale Real Estate Agent. The Szabo Group offers first-class real estate services to clients in the Scottsdale Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area in the buying and selling of Luxury homes in Arizona. Award-winning Realtors and Re/MAX top producers and best real estate agent for Luxury Homes in Scottsdale, The Szabo group delivers experience, knowledge, dedication and proven results. Contact Joe Szabo at 480.688.2020, info@ScottsdaleRealEstateTeam.com or visit www.scottsdalerealestateteam.com to find out more about Scottsdale Homes for Sale and Estates for Sale in Scottsdale and to search the Scottsdale MLS for Scottsdale Home Listings.