Why Can’t She Keep Her ROOM Clean?

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Sizzle Bop Mom, Cori, has had it with  her daughter’s disorganized bedroom. Her frustration is apparent in her note. So take a look, then keep reading for some solutions we’ve found successful.

Dear Carol,

I have an 8 yr. old daughter who has a difficult time with performing her tasks completely & thoroughly and it makes me crazy. For example, if she goes to change clothes, the first outfit will land on the floor or bed or someplace else other than the drawer or hanging up in the closet. There are times that I will tell her to put a brush or hairclip away and it doesn’t always make it to the proper place. It may land someplace close to where it belongs, but doesn’t always get to the designated spot. 
 
Another thing, I let her re-arrange her drawers. Upon opening one drawer I found pajamas/jeans/a shirt/skirt…all in the same drawer.  All of these get me very frustrated with her and I don’t want to be.  I want to be understanding of how she processes different things but I just don’t understand it.      
 
Cori

PHOTO-Carol Off-Center LEFT

Dear Cori,

It’s certainly difficult when a very ordered mom is parenting a very distractible child. Two people could not be less alike. So, BOTH parties need to bring much grace to the game just to survive. But along with that, I think you have to attack this from two different angles.

 

Angle One: Equip Your Child
There’s no doubt that your child needs to learn skills that keep chaos at bay. But the strategies that will work effectively for this kid may be very different from those that will work for others. Consider some of these.

  • Ditch hangers and drawers–Many distractible folks are happier in a room with lots of shelves in the closets instead of drawers. And loads of pegs or hooks instead of hangers. All their pants are folded, on a single shelf, and they can see them all at a glance. Have them create their own organization plan, and then LABEL everything. Because sadly, even THEY will forget their own system. (Trust me on this. I actually have a drawer labeled “underwear.” Sad but true.)
  • Tie it down–I grew so weary of the inability to find a hairbrush, since I knew darn well we owned about 3,000 of them. So once my kids passed the toddler stage where I had to worry about cords, I began tying down anything I could. If I ever found myself looking for the same thing over and over again, I considered tethering it to something. Here are a few.

PHOTO-Tethered Scissors

PHOTO-Tethered White Board Eraser

PHOTO-Tethered Hair brush

 

And you should know, just in case my girls pop into the van as we head out for church on Sunday and they tell me they didn’t have time to brush their hair. . . I have a brush tethered in the van. Cha ching!

  • Melinda Borings Hair Dryer Wars Solution— Two daughters, one tidy, the other one a bit, well, less so, shared a bathroom. One loved it when all things were in their place. The other, well, less so. The big item to create the war between them was the hairdryer. Read a post  HERE from our good friend Melinda. of HeadsUpNow.com and learn how a simple solution ended the war.
  • Pinterest ideas–We have bunches of creative ideas on the CHORES BOARD on our Pinterest page. Cori–I think you’ll especially like the Uh-Oh-Chores Pocket idea.
  •  MORE options can be found on our blog. Here we address the very real problem of simply forgetting to do things. Take a look at this idea packed post called “I-Forgot-My-Chores Strategies.”

Angle Two: Shift Your ThinkingPHOTO-Absent minded Professor Word photo

  • Pick your battles. Ask yourself “Is this really a crisis? Or just an annoyance.” Will this child truly be unable to go through adulthood with this behavior. And sometimes the answer is, “Well, yes. But I won’t like it.” This is a good time to remember the beloved caricature of the absent minded professor. We’ve all met one (or seven) whose filing systems involve stacks of papers and towers books on the floors, files in an order that only “a beautiful mind” could follow, and a daily disheveled appearance that denotes a particular disregard for fashion. He isn’t going to win any prizes for most Zen working space. But is he functioning? Yes. It may be worth releasing this child to be more like this professor. And, of course, step away from the area of chaos singing “Let it Go!” at the top of your lungs. 🙂

 

  • Test It: This idea comes from Cynthia Tobias, author of “You Can’t Make Me!”. She claims that we need to constantly ask ourselves “What’s the point?” Do we want them to be organized OUR way simply because it’s OUR way? Or do we want them to be able to find things they need. Tell your child that you don’t care what their room or other spaces look like, as long as they can function. In other words, if you ask them to find object X, and they can find it within 2 minutes, then we’re good. The point is NOT was the item retrieved from a neatly stacked group of similar items on the third shelf. Rather, the point is, given their own system, can they find it. Not everything should be dismissed as “not important.” That’s not where I’m going. But it is worth putting some time and energy into deciding just what IS important, and choosing carefully where you make your stand.
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2 Responses to “Why Can’t She Keep Her ROOM Clean?”

  1. Carrie Says:

    Another thing I’ve found helpful is to A) gut the room and let them enjoy having SPACE for once for a few days, B) put very little back in, C) organize it with their input and interests in mind (You need a place to put your skates–do you want it in spot 1, 2, or 3? And then label it.) and D) post a list of what you expect to be done when you ask the child to clean up. I like to start our list with whatever is likely the biggest mess of the room…..in our case, books. So, on the list on each child’s closet door, item 1 is Put away books. Then it steps through dirty clothes, making the bed, etc. This made a big dent in what there was to fight about and it made my expectations very clear. “You’re done? Great! Let’s go check the list. Hmm. I see a pile of books on your bed….I think you need to look at your list again and I’ll come back in a few minutes.” When they were younger, I did it with picture lists (and had a list for each room of the house). Now that they’re older, it’s really just the bedrooms, and now I can use WORDS. 🙂

  2. carolbarnier Says:

    I hate to keep coming back to it, but “less is more” still works. I think they are often relieved at the lack of stuff to take care of.

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