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Activities / Teens/Tweens

Kid stuff: 8 ways to get kids to organize their rooms, simplify life

Kid stuff: 8 ways to get kids to organize their rooms, simplify life

For parents trying to get out the door on time in the morning, a child with a disorganized bedroom can be a huge roadblock. The clock is ticking. The bus is coming.•”It was nice to be organized 20 years ago,” says organizing consultant Kathryn Bechen, author of “Small Space Organizing: A Room-by-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space” (Revell, 2012). But now, “It’s become a necessity.”•Here are eight ways Bechen and other experts make kids’ rooms more organized.

1. Pare down. Donna Smallin, author and creator of, suggests having kids help haul everything they own into the hallway outside their room. When the room is empty, have them bring back in only their favorite or most necessary things. You can supervise: When all the necessities are back in, start discussing what might be good to give away, sell, or store.

2. Clear the desk. If the room includes a desk, keep it as uncluttered as possible, suggests Dr. Martin L. Kutscher, pediatric neurologist and co-author of “Organizing the Disorganized Child” (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2009). Get a bin that holds hanging file folders to store finished papers that come home from school or pending homework. Another small bin can hold pens, pencils and a few other supplies needed for schoolwork. Otherwise, keep the desk clear.

3. Rethink the closet. To get children excited about actually putting things away in the closet, let them paint a neat color inside, says Bechen. It can be as outrageous as they’d like; hey, it’s hidden behind a door. For kids who share a room, let each choose the color for their side of the closet.

If your child isn’t a fan of hanging up clothing, fill the closet with open shelving. Put bins or baskets on each shelf, labeling what belongs inside. Better to have T-shirts tangled in a bin than heaped on the floor.

If you will be using the closet rod, Smallin suggests adding a small double rod that hangs below one portion of the main rod. Put items the child wears most often, or a week’s worth of school outfits, on this lower rod.

4. Get playful. Make straightening up fun: Buy one large trash can for sports equipment and another for laundry. Let the child label and personalize the outside. You can even add a plastic basketball hoop to the top of each can.”Who doesn’t love to throw stuff?” asks Smallin.

5. Get ready. Have your child decorate a special bin or basket where tomorrow’s clothes and shoes will go. Then choose a permanent spot for it. Each night, toss in everything your child will wear, including the packed, zipped school bag.

6. Use the walls. Kids are more likely to use hooks than hangers. So add lots of colorful hooks at your child’s level — not just one or two, but a whole row.

Another key item for the wall: a clock with hands. Kutscher says non-digital clocks make time a bit more tangible for kids. Pick up a large wall calendar that children can reach. Add a dry-erase board (WallPops makes one that’s a repositionable vinyl decal) for task checklists.

7. Blitz the bed. Kids who do homework on their beds will be more organized if the bed is made and uncluttered, Kutscher says. So simplify bedding — perhaps just use a fitted sheet and a duvet with a cover you can drop in the wash once a week.

8. And finally … For the first few weeks, Bechen says, “Run through the drill. Tell them, ‘You come home, you put your things here… .’ ”

Repeat the steps each day, as patiently as possible. And trust that in time, your kids will keep their bedrooms organized out of habit.

Melissa Rayworth, The Associated Press

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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