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Is your child’s bedroom a quiet sanctuary from the outside world or does it look like a bomb has hit it and splattered the contents over the floor, bed and shelving?

Cupboards filled with clothing the child has outgrown or he/she might still grow into. Floors and shelves strewn with toys, waste paper, crumpled artwork and certificates, sweet wrappers, puzzle pieces, McDonald nick naks, bread crusts, forgotten science experiments, Bionicle pieces, Barbie shoes, medals, books, happily bonding with the dust bunnies under the bed. Johnny runs around with constant nasal congestion and is frantically looking for the project he was working on two months ago, you are on your way to work and have no time for this right now!

No wonder that, the parents and the domestic feel totally overwhelmed when passing or entering the room. To make matters worse the domestic wants to create order and shoves more things under the bed and shelves that are already filled to capacity. So what now?

Create order:

Set time aside to create order and pray for a lot of patience – According to Fly Lady, : “You can not tidy up clutter; you can only get rid of it!” A basic room with lots of clutter can take anything between 5 to 8 hours to sort. So take your time and don’t feel pressured to do it all in one session.

  • Help your child visualise what he/she would like the room to look like and decide on a reward. Decide on zones for different activities, e.g. home work corner, chill out zone or play area; this will determine the storage of specific items.
  • Have black bags, boxes and markers at hand.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes, put on your favourite music. Get started!
  • Do not toss out the contents of the whole cupboard or toy box!
  • Take baby steps. Clear out one shelf at a time or one container at a time, sorting through the pieces as you go.
  • Be ruthless, get rid of stuff they no longer need, love or want. Toss broken or incomplete toys, puzzles. Make immediate decisions on where the unwanted items will go, to your domestic, an orphanage, another family member and place the items into the appropriate boxes.
  • Only keep toys that they enjoy and use. Sort them like by like, e.g. Lego blocks together, reading books into one pile school books in another and place them temporarily into specific containers or space.
  • When the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break. Have your favourite treat, something to drink, or just chill together reading one of the found books.
  • Do not get distracted.
  • Clean shelves or containers as you go. Keep some toys out of reach and alternate toys.
  • Allocate homes to toys, books and clothes and put them into place. If boxes of puzzles are broken, place them in zip lock bags in plastic containers or punch holes in the bags and store them in a flat filing box).
  • Label or colour code the containers (25 l max). If it is a toddler, put a picture of the contents on the container.
  • Get a plastic folder for papers/letters from school with dividers for field trips, sports schedules, scout info, etc. Put important dates on the family calendar. Sort the information once a month.
  • Place certificates, reports and photos into “My School Life album”. Order Here
  • Store cut-outs for school projects/ work in a folder. Toss the paper from which it was cut out into a dustbin.

Storage Options

Children have lots of toys and need as much space as possible to play with them. Today there is a huge range of storage systems available to optimise space. Pack away smaller items in plastic tubs, use baskets and toy boxes for packing away bigger items – look for beds with built-in storage or sufficient space underneath to fit bins and baskets.Use pegboards against the walls for jackets and bags for their activities, where they are ready to grab when they need to leave. Transparent hanging organisers will encourage children to put their own things away. Shelves, drawers, and shoe racks help keep things tidy. Don’t forget a laundry basket for dirty clothes and a dustbin for waste. Make sure that they can reach clothing rails – Use shower curtain rails where you turn the ends to tighten into a cupboard. Store boxes and baskets of out-of-season clothes and clothes to be passed on, on the top shelves of the cupboard. Don’t forget to label these. This will free up space in the closet and will still be accessible when needed.

The room

Make the décor flexible. Keep the main colour of the room simple. Use changes of linen, rugs, lampshades and pictures to make it stimulating or to bring in themes. This makes it easier to change when children outgrow their rooms. Allow them to choose their own colour, curtains and accessories, but guide them.

Select low-maintenance floor coverings such as wood, laminate or tiles – a quick sweep or mop and they are like new again. Use rugs for activity zones and to add texture and pattern to a room.

And finally… to keep it this way.

  • Encourage your children to play with one kind of toy at a time
  • Put it back where they found it before they start something else.
  • Encourage your child to tidy up daily before he/she leaves the room.
  • Clean the bath, shower & basin after they have used it, to use the toilet brush to clean toilet & flush!
  • Top up supplies, e.g. toilet paper and soap.
  • Hang clothes or put them in the laundry bin, hang towels! “Leave it in the way you would like to find it”
  • Make beds in the morning. If they are small help them, by the time they get to school they should be able to do it on their own
  • Have a set routine for, homework, reading, playtime, tidying up toys, bedtime, prayer and story time. This creates consistency and allows you and your child to feel secure.
  • Lead by example.

Now that you have found the lost project and have gotten rid of the clutter, reward yourself and your child with special nurturing time. Do something together that you both love and deserve!

Good luck and do let me know how you get on. I’m always pleased to hear your stories and any tips for decluttering or storage that are working for you.

Heidi Meyer

Professional organiser

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