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Kids'! (long, sorry)

(26 Posts)
buildingmycorestrength Sat 27-Apr-13 13:17:02

Please help me figure this out in my head. I really really struggle with keeping the childrens' rooms tidy, especially my daughter. This is a total essay, so sorry, but it wearing me down!!

1) They have too many toys. I want to get rid of some of their things but my daughter(6) is EXTREMELY attached to virtually everything and remembers every tiny, tiny bit of everything. Literally months after last playing with it she will suddenly mention it. My son (8) not so much, but is also quite good at deciding to get rid of things.

I ask my dd to help me choose some things to give away and she will sometimes, so I've not completely given up hope. We talk about the fact that it is nice to have the things you
love around you, but everything else gets in the way. We talk about selling things to raise money for toys or charity. But she cannot keep her room tidy so she must have too many things, right?

My son may have ASD and he is very keen to have order in his room but doesn't quite know how to achieve it. We talk about rules like 'get rid of the rubbish first', 'group things together' and so on. He doesn't even really play with his toys anymore, but I don't quite want to ditch them for the odd occasions when he does. I know some of the problem is me.

2) They struggle to keep their rooms tidy. They are both pretty good at putting things back in the box when asked, but a lot of their play seems to involve more...creative...uses of their toys than that. My son's desk always gets overflowing with 'projects' and my daughter is always making fairy houses, potions, putting a selection of tiny random precious things in a box and wrapping it with a blanket and stowing it under her bed...adorable and what childhood should be, right? But it drives me totally mad because I feel like I don't know how to tidy it up without...ruining her life...? Maybe my expectations in terms of tidiness are too high, too.

3) I work or rest while they are at school, because I have a chronic fatigue condition. I feel like ideally I would spend time while they aren't here sorting out their rooms, but I either have work to do, or I need to rest, or I just think, 'But it is your bloody room!'

4) My mum is a borderline hoarder and I was left to keep my own room tidy from the age of 5 so I may have ...ishoos...about this...I need some perspective. In general I want to help them learn how to look after their things and be tidy, and I'm terrified of 'doing it wrong', somehow, so want their approval and help, I guess. That's mad, right?

What is reasonable to expect them to do themselves in terms of decluttering and tidying, and what am I going to have to suck up and get on with? Please be kind and don't forget I am very, very tired! sad I just feel really defeated by it right now, and exhausted fter spending 2hrs tidying my daughter's room.

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Apr-13 13:47:00

I think toy rotation could really help the situation with your daughter as an alternative to decluttering in your specific situation. Get some large 'Really Useful' boxes and out say, fairy stuff in one box, play farm stuff in another, baby doll stuff in another etc and then have three 'out' of rotation and three 'in' rotation. So the three that are out of rotation can live on top of a large wardrobe out of reach, or, if easily accessible, in the loft and then they can be swapped around weekly/fortnightly or whatever you decide. Or, another way is, you daughter gets to swap a box from the 'toy library' you've just created in your home. But only three (or whatever you think is appropriate) stay out at once. That immediately cuts down in toys in her environment. I do believe less is more when it comes to toys and they can play more deeply with less stuff around.

My youngest is also a little collector and lives nothing better then filling little bags/tins/boxes with little bits of rubbish treasures. It drives me potty and I have given up 'fighting' it now.

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Apr-13 13:48:27

Sorry about typos, 'out' should have read 'put' blush...

buildingmycorestrength Sat 27-Apr-13 13:52:12

Thank you so much for answering so thoughtfully.

I sort of came to this conclusion myself earlier this year...I just ask her what stuff should go in the loft but don't ask her to get rid.

Yes, I will have a good think about how to be a bit more systematic about it. Plus I love a good box...grin

MortifiedAdams Sat 27-Apr-13 13:52:15

Hmmm.....Im torn. I can see why you want to avoid hoarder traits, and that a tidy room is nicer than a messy room, but I think its a case of fighting your battles.

Id go with setting new rules
(1)if something comes in a box (jigsaw eg), then it goes back into the box when finished to safe
(2)the floor must be cleared of toys by bedtime
(3)dirty clothes plates etc brought out every day

The rest, id just leave them be.

MinimalistMommi Sat 27-Apr-13 14:01:17

You're welcome building.

If you pop toy rotation into google lots of inspiration will come up about it on blogs etc. If you think about it, it would cut down the toys by 50% at anyone time in her room so basically, the less stuff there is, the less chaos there will be.

By the way, my eight year old has grown out of a lot of toys now but does still play with Barbies and make believe games. She spends a lot of time reading and drawing too.

buildingmycorestrength Sat 27-Apr-13 14:03:24

I agree with fighting the right battles and I really don't bang on at them constantly! I get them to roughly clear the floor about every other day, I'd say, with fruitless plea for them to put things where they belong. Proper,y clear the floor once a week before the cleaner comes, so she can hoover.

But every couple of months I sort of realise that they can't find anything, everything is out of place, cupboard doors won't close, etc. That is when I start to feel like I've done it wrong.

buildingmycorestrength Sat 27-Apr-13 17:10:27

I've been looking at the toy rotation thing a bit more and I wonder if it would work better if I break up the existing sets of toys a bit more.

So instead of getting out the dressing up (which is currently always available in a big box and very rarely played with) I split it into three sets and just get out one at a time. Same with the baby stuff (two different sets of baby stuff), cuddlies, playmobil, etc.

I think it might work better that way, and also give them some new ideas for combinations.

I have some 'out of the way' storage that I can use, definitely.


I always get resentful of having to initiate their play. I really get fed up and think, 'Just play! Look at all these toys! You are a child, just get on with it!' But that doesn't seem to be how they work. It is a lesson I have to learn over and over and over and over....they play beautifully for ages if I get out a box full of whatever for them, and they know how to tidy it up afterwards.

educatingarti Sat 27-Apr-13 19:32:26

I think that you have partly answered your own question here ".they play beautifully for ages if I get out a box full of whatever for them, and they know how to tidy it up afterwards." Children seem to have so much stuff these days - not necessarily bad- they can have fantastic play value, but if there is too much out they can feel overwhelmed!

I'd experiment with your suggestion of breaking up the sets a bit more and see how it works. You aren't depriving them - if they really love stuff from a particular box, there's nothing to stop them asking you for it again! Also - if stuff always goes back into a labelled box, it is easy to tidy it away at the end of the day. (It will also help you identify the stuff they just don't play with any more that can be charity shopped!)

WRT your DS's "projects" and your DD's "boxes full of bits wrapped up in a blanket under the bed" (love it btw!!) I'd allow them to keep these out for a few days. You can always ask - have you finished playing with X, or have a rule for your DS, only 1 or 2 projects out at one time - (but give him some smaller boxes to put unfinished project 1, project 2, project 3 etc in - when he runs out of boxes he has to tidy one out completely!!) If they say they haven't finished with X, allow them to keep it out in a contained area but have a rule that if it has to be tidied if it hasn't been played with again that week or something.

OK as far as your "ishoos" with hoarding - I think that DC's learn a lot by example so, if your DCs see you tidying spaces as you go along or blitzing paperwork hotspots once every few days etc, they will to some extent pick up on this as being "normal"! I know about being exhausted ( I have fibromyalgia) and nobody's home is perfect (unless they're are obsessive or employ an army of servants!!). I'm finding that the more I declutter the easier tidying and cleaning are so you could always join us on the minimalist thread if you wanted so decluttering inspiration!

I'm not sure about your DD's age (guessing 5-7) but could you introduce some of the box system as part of having a "big girl's room"? It doesn't have to be expensive - just get some (peel off) wall stickers in her current fave design to ring the changes a bit and maybe organise a "desk" area if she hasn't already got one! Make sure she can access the storage for her clothes - at least the ones currently in use. (I can remember struggling to reach my hanging clothes as a child and partly climbing up the ,fortunately built in, wardrobe!) Then it is reasonable to ask her to pick up her own clothes and either put away or put in dirty washing basket/bag. Create a place (on shelf/in cupboard/floor area) for 3 current boxes so she knows where they have to go! Then tidying will be much easier.

Also - try a few times of tidying with them - you "help" a bit but direct them as to what they need to do! They may need support to get into the routine of tidying! Also it means you can check they don't just get sidetracked with the lego or a book that they've just picked up off the floor!

buildingmycorestrength Sat 27-Apr-13 19:53:27

garti thanks so much. will read and digest. Just implementing desk area today, in fact!

MinimalistMommi Sun 28-Apr-13 08:22:53

Have a look in your library and see if they have a copy of the book 'Simplicity Parenting' it has a great detailed chapter in it about children's bedrooms and how to organise which I think could really help you out grin

Let us know how you get on!

buildingmycorestrength Sun 28-Apr-13 08:33:26

Thank you all.

I love minimalist blogs and so on, but they do make me feel quite...inadequate a lot of the time. It just takes a lot of energy I don't have.

But I will look out the book you mention.

educatingarti Sun 28-Apr-13 11:30:28

You could join us on our minimalist thread. It isn't heavy at all but supportive of even small achievements! You don't have to be a full-blown minimalist either ( I am far from this) - just wanting to de-clutter a bit!

buildingmycorestrength Sun 28-Apr-13 13:55:33

educating thank you.

Have managed to dump 5 years or more worth of accumulated pencil stubs and chewed crayons today. Hurrah!

And my ideas on toy rotation are slowly growing clearer...

buildingmycorestrength Sun 28-Apr-13 16:14:47

Okay, have got two mahoosive storage tubs and am filling each with a selection of dd's and ds's toys, dressing up, puzzles, etc. So hopefully both will be vaguely excited when a new box comes down from the loft. Will suggest we bring them down in two weeks on a Friday for playing with at the weekend.

Also culling a few things on the quiet while I'm at it...this makes me feel so sneaky, as I feel like they should be in on the decisions, but IT JUST DOESN'T WORK!

Also helped DS tidy his desk...not as stressful as I thought it would be.

DD is enjoying playing in a very tidy room with just a few things (relatively speaking). They both like it when it is tidy, they just don't know how to get there.

educatingarti Sun 28-Apr-13 16:50:50

grin Sounds like you are winning!

MinimalistMommi Sun 28-Apr-13 17:25:31

Yay! That sounds so positive!
Didn't quite understand from what you wrote, when are they getting exchanged?blush

buildingmycorestrength Sun 28-Apr-13 17:27:55

I'll bring down a new box in nearly two weeks, but on a Friday so they have the 'new toys' for the weekend. And then refill it and take it to the loft again! Two weeks later, the other box.

Or maybe leave it a bit longer? See how they are?

MinimalistMommi Sun 28-Apr-13 17:44:10

Well I think it sounds perfect! Great idea doing it on a Friday too grin

FlouncyMcFlouncer Sun 28-Apr-13 18:03:26

The toy rotation will also help you get away with some of the quiet culling - when a little voice asks 'mummy, where's my XXX' you'll be able to say 'Maybe it's in one of the other boxes, darling' and by the time the box comes out they'll most likely have forgotten about whatever it was.

AppleAndBlackberry Sun 28-Apr-13 18:18:08

I have one of those Expedit cube things from IKEA for toys with a box in every space and I limit the number of boxes allowed out at any one time and then make sure it's all tidied away at the end of the day. Around birthdays and Christmas I try to clear out at least one box to make space for new stuff. One box is just bits and pieces that aren't part of any other sets but the rest are fairly organised. They do have stuff under their beds and bookshelves and soft toys in a big basket too but most of it is in the Expedit.

What I struggle with is their art and creations that come home from preschool, does anyone have a system for storing/getting rid of those?

MinimalistMommi Sun 28-Apr-13 18:21:57

Apple yes, the outdoor recycling bin grin

MinimalistMommi Sun 28-Apr-13 18:22:44

Sorry, I should have been serious, I know of some people who scan pics before recycling them.

steppemum Sun 28-Apr-13 18:30:14

my dd2 (aged 5) and I have recently sorted out her room. I did it when she was with me, and we did through away some things (about a teaspoons worth grin ) but the important thing was we gave everything a place. She decided what was grouped with what. So there is a a playmobile box, but the little playmobile set with the horse doesn't go in the playmobile box, it goes with the dolls house, because THAT is where it BELONGS.

Everything can now go away in a designated box on her shelves/under her bed. She is also one for playing creatively with her stuff, recently pretty much every toy was laid out in a huge circle which was a race track (not sure who was racing on it!)

We have the rule that there has to be a clear path to the bed, so the race track had to move over a bit at bedtime, but she can keep stuff out for days if it is being played with. So about once a week I will say it all has to go away unless it it TODAY's game. We will do it together, and because she made the plan for where it goes, she can put it all away with me there keeping her on task.

ds is 10, his bedroom is full of projects, I am not allowed to tidy. haven't found a solution yet!

steppemum Mon 29-Apr-13 06:51:09

that should be ''throw'' away!

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