In my ongoing effort to not be a constant nag I’m always looking for ways to make my kids autonomous when it comes to cleaning and organizing. I recognized that there are kids that naturally come into this world just a little neater than others. Nature often wins over nurture but that doesn’t mean we can’t be better. I don’t just give up on them and assume they’re slobs. Very few things in life are irreversible.
When the kids were little, they would come out of their room and proclaim, “All done!” I go in the room for the customary inspection and would would nearly blow my top at the disaster before me. How was this “all done”? I soon realized that the kids needed to know what “all done” really meant.
I started by completely cleaning the room with the kids. Next, I broke out the label maker and put a label on everything to ensure they knew where each item went. All things need a home.
Next, I took a few pictures and printed them out and taped to the back of the door. Visually the kids could now see what “all done” should look like. This was transformational. No longer was I having to point out over and over what still needed to be put away.
One of the simplest things that can be done is just to have less stuff. Managing vast amounts of toys is tough and it’s often not even played with. With Groupon and Living Social I encourage all well-meaning grandparents, aunts and uncles to buy experiences rather than more stuff. A trip to the zoo is far better than owning the plastic zoo with accompanying animals.
As the kids have gotten older, they now know what to do even if they’d rather be sleeping or on a device. Too keep things simple, I took old picture frames and put poster board in them with lines. I write chores on the glass with a dry erase marker and the kids erase as they go. Something satisfying in erasing completed chores.
The kids have done a good job at coming home, checking the list and getting down to business.
My older daughter now keeps a clean room all the time minus any nagging.
I just walked in unannounced and took this photo. No clothes on the floor and everything in its place. Don’t give up on the kids. One day they’ll see the light and you’ll see the floor.