mad girl standing in messy room

When life feels overwhelming, simplifying can help you regain a sense of control. One of the best ways to simplify is to de-clutter your surroundings and organize your belongings. If you have kids, their rooms are a great place to start.

Kids are notorious clutter bugs. Their toys, games, and collected treasures may begin to take on a life of their own, spreading throughout the house. By the end of the week, you may be lucky to still see the floor. Not to worry. You can take some simple steps on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to ensure that "clean" rather than "chaos" dominates your kid's space as well as your own. Try these tips:

1. Use a nightly "tidy-up."
The best way to keep order in your child's room is to set up a system to ensure that things don't get too out of control. If your child is old enough to help pick up after themself, enforce a ritual of a quick nightly "tidy-up." The objective is not a thorough clean, but simply a brisk pick up and of items and returning them to their proper places before bed. You might want to place a list of tidy-up reminders on your child's closet or bulletin board that includes suggestions such as:

  • Toys go back on their shelves or in their bins
  • Game pieces get placed back in their proper boxes
  • Clothes get dropped in the hamper or hung up
  • Items borrowed from other rooms get returned to where they belong

In addition to taking care of his or her own room, your child should also be made accountable for checking other rooms of the house and ensuring that no toys or belongings are left there. At the end of the nightly tidy-up, ask your child to do a quick sweep through the house to collect his or her things and return them to the proper places in the bedroom.

2. Do a weekly clean-up.
If your child keeps up with the nightly tidy-up, it should leave you in much better shape for a weekly clean-up. While the purpose of the tidy-up is simply to return objects to their proper places each night, the clean-up allows for a true cleaning of your child's room. Ideally, you'll be able to assign your child some cleaning tasks for his or her room that they'll be responsible for getting done each week. Depending on your child's age and ability, you might consider assigning the following tasks:

  • Vacuuming
  • Dusting bookshelves and dressers
  • Making the bed
  • Bringing clothes from the hamper to the laundry room

3. Manage a monthly de-cluttering.
Although keeping up with tidying and cleaning should keep your child's room under control, a monthly de-cluttering can help you ensure that it stays that way. Think of de-cluttering as a kind of "stuff check" for everything in your child's room. In other words, you'll be helping your child evaluate his or her belongings and determining what items need to go. If you don't perform this check regularly, your child's room may quickly become overrun with too many items to properly store.

Help manage this process, as it will involve decision-making. You might want to hold the de-cluttering right after the last weekly clean-up of the month. That way, you'll be working with a clean and organized slate, which will make it easier to sort through toys, books, games, stuffed animals, and clothes. Help your child determine if he or she has outgrown anything or is ready to give anything away. Keep an eye out for items that are broken, in need of repair, or need fresh batteries. Set them aside in piles to discard or fix. For items in good shape that your child is ready to part with, consider the following options:

  • Giving to the child of a family member or friend
  • Choosing a charity to donate them to
  • Selling them at a garage sale along with items from other family members

Taking the time to tidy, clean, and de-clutter your child's room can lead to decreased stress and a fresh perspective for the whole family. And being able to see the floor will remind you of why you go through the trouble.