Tricks to help­ing kids keep an or­ga­nized bed­room

The Progress-Index - At Home - - News - MELISSA RAY­WORTH

The con­ver­sa­tion of­ten starts with, “Where are your shoes?”

For many 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. And your off­spring is search­ing for his fa­vorite hoodie.

The day of­ten ends with sim­i­lar chal­lenges: “Is your back­pack ready for school to­mor­row?” ‘’Where are your li­brary books?”

Get­ting a child’s room or­ga­nized can be the first step to­ward smoother morn­ings and more peace­ful evenings.

“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 given how busy we are to­day, she says, “it’s be­come a ne­ces­sity.”

Here are some ex­perts’ tips on dec­o­rat­ing and ar­rang­ing your child’s bed­room in ways that will sim­plify daily life.

Get Them Ex­cited

No need for full-scale re­dec­o­rat­ing. An of­fer to re­ar­range items and per­haps add a few new ones will prob­a­bly get your child ex­cited enough to help shape up her space.

“Try to make it fun,” Bechen says. “Take one whole Satur­day or Sun­day for the whole fam­ily to work on it.”

Pare Down

Elim­i­nat­ing clut­ter isn’t sim­ple, es­pe­cially when kids would pre­fer not to part with any­thing. Donna Smallin, au­thor and cre­ator of un­clut­ter.com, 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 box up for stor­ing in an at­tic or base­ment. Re­as­sure the child that items in stor­age can al­ways come out again later.

If the room in­cludes a desk, keep it as un­clut­tered as pos­si­ble, sug­gests Dr. Martin L. Kutscher, pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist and coau­thor 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.

Re­think The Closet

To get chil­dren ex­cited about ac­tu­ally putting things away in the closet, let them “paint it a neat color in­side,” says Bechen. It can be as out­ra­geous as they’d like; it’s hid­den be­hind a door. If they love it and it feels per­sonal, she says, they’re more likely to use it. (For kids who share a room, let each choose the color for one side of the closet.)

Then, work with their habits: If your child isn’t a fan of hang­ing up cloth­ing, con­sider fill­ing some or all of the closet with open shelv­ing. Put bins or bas­kets on each shelf, la­bel­ing with words and/or pic­tures to de­scribe what be­longs in­side.

You might pre­fer T-shirts to be neatly folded, says Smallin, but hav­ing them wran­gled in large bas­kets is bet­ter than find­ing them on the floor. If shoes get mis­placed, add a large crate to the closet where the child can drop them.

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 on the lower rod, so they’re within easy reach. Or use this ex­tra rod for the cloth­ing the child will wear to school this week. If those items are cho­sen in ad­vance and all lo­cated in one place, you won’t spend time search­ing for them.

Get Play­ful

Make straight­en­ing up fun. Con­sider buy­ing one large trash­can for sports equip­ment and an­other to use as a ham­per. Let the child la­bel and per­son­al­ize the out­side. You can even add a plas­tic bas­ket­ball hoop to the top of each trash can, so the child can have fun toss­ing items in­side.

“Who doesn’t love to throw stuff ?” asks Smallin.

Also, have the 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 to­mor­row (in­clud­ing the packed, zipped school bag). Bet­ter to find miss­ing socks and de­bate which clothes are ap­pro­pri­ate in the evening than do it when the school bus is on its way.

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 — to store hood­ies, jack­ets and even pants.

Also con­sider hang­ing a shoe bag on back of the door, but don’t feel ob­li­gated to use it for shoes. Smallin says it can be filled with socks and un­der­wear, small toys or any­thing else that needs to be eas­ily lo­cated.

An­other key item for the wall: a clock with hands. Kutscher says non-dig­i­tal clocks make time a bit more tan­gi­ble for kids, help­ing them no­tice the pas­sage of time and hopefully stay on task. A large wall cal­en­dar that chil­dren can reach is also a great way to help them get or­ga­nized.

Last item: a dry-erase board (Wal­lPops makes one that’s a repo­si­tion­able vinyl de­cal) where kids can keep a check­list of tasks for bed­time and morn­ing. Write out the check­list with them, then praise them for us­ing it.

Bet­ter Bed Area

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. Limit the dec­o­ra­tive pil­lows and piles of toys, so school sup­plies can’t get lost in the chaos.

Smallin sug­gests lift­ing the child’s bed with ris­ers to cre­ate ex­tra stor­age space, which can be filled with la­beled plas­tic bins. Use a bed skirt to hide the bins from view.

Once You’ve Done It

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. “It’s an ex­ec­u­tive func­tion. It re­quires the abil­ity to stop, plan, or­ga­nize and ac­tu­ally ex­e­cute a goal,” Kutscher says. As that abil­ity is grow­ing, par­ents need to gen­tly guide the process.

“We take the safety net ap­proach,” he says, “grad­u­ally let­ting the child master the skills, as we stand by as needed.”

AP PHOTO/BREW­STER HOME FASH­IONS

This pub­lic­ity photo pro­vided by courtesy of Brew­ster Home Fash­ions shows the Wal­lPops Peace Dry-Erase Mes­sage Board de­cal that can help a stu­dent keep track of ap­point­ments or a bed­time check­list of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

AP PHOTO/BREW­STER HOME FASH­IONS

This pub­lic­ity photo pro­vided by courtesy of Brew­ster Home Fash­ions shows the Wal­lPops Pais­ley Please Red Dry-Erase Mes­sage Board that can­help keep a stu­dent’s desk area or­ga­nized.

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