Ever since Bee started preschool at age 3, I’ve done a thorough clean, sort and purge in her room during the week before school starts. It’s nice for her to start the school year with a clean, organized room, because it makes the morning rush less hectic and stressful when she can find the things she needs. I also firmly believe that children can concentrate better on schoolwork when their environment is neat and orderly.
Cleaning a kid’s room is a big job, and also a frustrating one, so I spread this task out over the course of three days. I want Bee to learn organizational skills, and responsibility for her own things, so she is required to help each day. She also makes the decisions about what to keep, and what to part with. With the first day of school only a week away, we’ve been working on her room since Monday.
This is what it looked like when we started,
1) Laundered curtains and nightstand skirt
2) Cleaned and dusted all furniture, blinds, lamps, and wall-hangings
3) Wiped down walls and woodwork
3) Cleaned inside of windows
4) Stripped the bed, and remade it with fresh bedding.
5) Tidied items on the nightstand
Any clothing and shoes that I knew to be too small were removed from closets and dresser drawers, and put in a pile on the living room floor. Bee tried on any questionable items to verify proper fit. All of the new school clothes were brought up from their storage box in the used clothing filing system, and put neatly in dresser drawers.
On Day Three, we tackled the toys and books. This is the most time-consuming and frustrating part of the job. If you’re like me, you’ll be upset and frustrated with your children as you find broken toys and other evidence of their carelessness. If you have a child like Cakes, she will constantly interrupt you, or undo any work you’ve completed. Don’t give up, even if your child sits on the Barbie sofa,
First, get a laundry basket, a paper grocery sack, and a trash can. Gather all of the junk into one central pile. Get everything out of corners, from under the bed, and off the dresser. Sit down on the floor with your child and sort. Trash goes in the trash can, papers and other recyclables go in the paper grocery bag, and items belonging in other rooms go into the laundry basket. Don’t tackle closets or drawers until all misplaced items are put away first! It’s very important to start with a clean room, because you’ll make an even bigger, more intimidating mess if you clean out storage spaces first. Then, you’ll be so discouraged and tired that you’ll be inclined to just give up!
After we put all of the misplaced toys in their proper places, and all library materials in our library bags by the front door,
We took everything out of the closet, and dusted all of the shelves. Then, Bee and I followed our standard organizing procedure, which has been in place since she was 3 years old. Bee knows the drill, and she seems to really enjoy the process. Once, when I told her that we needed to work on her room, she said, “YES! I LOVE organizing stuff with you!”
I’m serious. She really did say that.
Here’s what we do:
I hold up two items, and Bee picks one to keep. The other one goes to our local consignment store, or into the garage sale box, and any proceeds are Bee’s to keep. If she loves both items, and doesn’t want to part with either, that’s her option. I do not argue with her or try to convince her otherwise. She’s typically very good about parting with unwanted items, and after we’re finished, I always give her a big hug, and tell her how proud I am of her!
When we were finished with the first closet, it looked like this:
When Bee was little and couldn’t read, I labeled the drawers with photos or stickers, so she knew where to put things. The top drawer is for Barbie clothes and accessories, the middle drawer is for miscellaneous small toys, and the bottom drawer is for Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop toys. We dumped each drawer out, wiped it out with a Clorox wipe, and followed the same procedure that we used to organize the bookshelf. We organized the rest of the second closet in the same manner as the first. When we were finished, it looked like this:
At this point, all that was left to do was a thorough vacuum, including the baseboards, windowsills, and under the bed. We were left with a basket of junk to put away, a pile of clothes to be filed away for Cakes to grow into, and a box of toys and books to be taken to the consignment store tomorrow.