ORGANIZATION: A Clean Kid’s Bedroom Is a Myth, Right?!

Preschool toys on a coffee table

4/3/2014: I would never publicly shame any of my children by posting photos to social media. I have threatened to remove all items from their rooms except for bed and bedding. I have never followed through on these threats, except for one time when I dragged a nightstand towards the door of my kid and then that kid got cleaning fast. Now none of my kids have clean rooms but they do put dirty laundry in the hamper (for the most part) and keep a walking path from bed to door for me and for them to escape if there was a fire and they needed to escape. I live with the “controlled” mess as my master bedroom is not neat.

4/7/2024: So what has happened in the last 24 years? In 2014, I had an 11-year-old, a 16-year-old, and an 18-year-old. All were living at home. All had their own bedrooms. All had school, sports, activities, and Sunday School to keep them very busy. All had homework, school projects, and testing. All were good about keeping their stuff in their bedrooms. Rarely did I find their stuff strewn around the house. Around that time, I started a major purging of toys.

In the early days of babies and toddlers (mid-1990s/early 2000s), I made half-hearted attempts to do daily cleanup. We sang the Barnie cleanup song. I tried to help the babies and toddlers carry toys from one end of the family to the other. It was like putting toothpaste back in the tube. Useless.

By the time, I had preschoolers and elementary schoolers (2000s through the 2010s), cleanup was long gone…daily cleanups that is. Our family cleanup strategy was centered completely around cleaning the house for a family event, birthday party, and Christmas. The cleanups were stressful. Lots of yelling. The house…the ground floor at least…was more or less clean for guests. The toys were tossed into toy boxes. Books stacked on shelves. Dishes cleaned. Kitchen table decluttered. Shoes stowed. Coats hung up. The one downside was that in these massive pre-holiday cleanups, important papers were stowed in boxes and put in the basement storage room for “safekeeping.” Weeks later when a bill was needed, we would have to search random boxes in the basement storage room. Frustrating.

In the days of middle schoolers and high schoolers (late 2010s through 2021), I completely gave up. My house was a mess. The kids were involved with school, sports, and activities. They were busy. I was busy. The busy-ness was our life. The rushing was our daily routine. The chaos. The out-of-town tournaments. The multi-day swim meets. The golf matches. The concerts. The orchestra. Daily cleaning was not happening.

Fast forward to today (2024)…my older two have moved out…both to apartments. Each kid took clothing, shoes, and lamps. That’s it. Left behind are the school papers, the yearbooks, the medals, the trophies, the stuffed animals, and a whole bunch of clothing. I have two full bedrooms…one for each of them. My youngest is still living at home, but away at college for months at a time. His bedroom is the least cluttered of the three kids. He’s not a keeper of stuff. Still not much daily cleaning happening.

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