My love for living in a simple space is no secret, but another benefit of owning a reduced amount of things is that my children can complete the majority of the tidying themselves!
This is wonderful for two reasons:
- So much less work for Mom and
- 2) Kids grow up knowing that they certainly can keep a space tidy. It’s very empowering for them!
With an over-abundance of things, and hearing “go clean your room” or “pick up the living room” can feel like being told to construct a rocket out of cereal boxes and take a lap around the earth. Completely impossible. Most kids wouldn’t even know where to start because there just isn’t a place for things to go!
Developing new habits
When I started to get serious about trimming all the unnecessary burden of possessions out of our family’s life, I realized that helping my kids learn to keep the house was going to be a very important part of our future. They have always been quite cheerful about helping me tidy, but the truth was that I had to do most of it because it was to overwhelming for them to tackle by themselves.
The one thing that helped me be able to share the tidying chores with my kids has been the idea of having a designated home for each item we own.
A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.
Because we don’t have much, they can (and do) know the permanent residence of every single item we have. That’s amazing!
There is no wandering about feeling like they don’t know where to put stuff. They can grab something and run put it away, easy peasy!
The ten second tidy.
About three times per day, I have my children do a “ten second tidy” of the house. This means we count backwards from 10 and during that time we hustle to put away everything that is out of order.
This is often right before a meal or before they are going to watch a TV show, and this helps them keep up the pace. Sometimes I work with them, sometimes I just direct traffic, or sometimes I just let them go by themselves.
My children are wonderful, but they aren’t some special angelic brand of kid that never complains or is always thinking about how to make my life easier. But when I say “Ten Second Tidy” they know they can do it! They’ve practiced and succeed so many times before that the ten second tidy is totally achievable for them. There’s no despair or feeling overwhelmed.
One job per kid…
We don’t have many toys, but we do have four kids that all share a bedroom. So the clothes and stuffs and books and toys can make their room a moderate disaster zone sometimes. During these times, I delegate categories of tidying to make it even simpler for each kids to say focus this is usually how it’s done:
8 year old: Clothes
7 year old: Toys
5 year old: Books
3 year old: Pillow and Blankets
1 year old: “Helps” with books or toys
We have a mini dresser with little drawers for their few “treasures”, like a special necklace, or piggie bank, or breakable trinket. If a kid has a personal item that is out, they must put that item in their own “treasure drawer”.
And voila! This usually takes less than five minutes and the room is clean.
Success starts with confidence.
Ok, now I know I’m saying things like “easy-peasy” and “voila”, but I want you to know that this is actually something that I take very seriously, and it’s touching on one of those big important concepts that I want my children to learn in their youth.
Knowing how to do a job well and completely is an very important life skill and I feel it’s my job to create an environment for them to grow up in where they CAN succeed. I want them to get used to that feeling of success, not just in keeping a space tidy, but in all things.
Rather than grow up feeling helpless to handle the tough jobs of life, I want them to be able to an obstacle and say “I got this.”
Make way for blessings…
Making tidying achievable for my kids in one of the greatest rewards I’ve received so far in my decluttering journey. The blessings of living with less just keep rolling in and I’d love to hear from you some of the successes, great or small, that come from living with less.
If you yourself are feeling overwhelmed, let alone your kids, I want to encourage you not to give up! THERE WILL be a day when you’ll be saying “I got this, easy peasy”. Just don’t wait to begin.