If you follow KOAB on Facebook, you probably already know that last Friday, I hit a breaking point with the state of my boys’ (ages 10 and 7) shared room.
It was a disaster.
(Showing you these pictures is an act of love. Please know that.)
I had cleaned, decluttered and organized my boys’ room on numerous occasions in the past.
But inevitably, within a week — or less, you’d never have known.
I had asked, told, cajoled, punished, and rewarded. And still their room was a horror show. Worst of all, it was a horror show that was starting to smell.
So last Friday at 12:05 p.m., I headed into their room with two big Rubbermaid tubs and two even bigger trash bags.
I started in the corner closest to the door and worked my way around the room. First, I picked up the obvious trash – and filled nearly a whole bag. On the first pass. Gross.
Then I made a ginormous pile of dirty clothes (everywhere, there were dirty clothes everywhere) and a smaller pile of kippot and hats (and yet, with the umpteen million of them, they could never find one in the morning before camp).
I went through their dressers and closets and selected a bare minimum wardrobe. They each got seven t-shirts, two sweatshirts, enough shorts for the week, plus two more that work for Shabbat, and three “Shabbat shirts”. I went thru socks and undies and purged the ripped ones. Each boy got two kippot and two baseball caps. I bagged up the too small clothes to pass on to friends, and put everything else into those empty tubs.
For now, it’s being stored in my bedroom. If — and when — they can stay on top of the clothes in their room, we can reintroduce some of the packed up ones.
I moved on to Legos — collected them all, tossed them in a tub (the tub they were supposed to be stored in) and dragged them out of their room. Next up: Their baseball cards. I gathered all the stray ones and tossed them into one of their three baseball card boxes, and stacked them in the hallway on top of the Legos tub.
Books were next. Books are great. I love that my kids love to read. I hate that they have books all.over.the.place. I reached deep under their beds and pulled out dozens of books. I sorted out the library ones and put the rest into a cardboard box, which eventually was moved down to our basement bookshelves. I left each child with the current book they are reading next to their bed, plus two others on the bookshelf.
Once the horizontal surfaces were finally cleared, I took a microfiber cloth and scrubbed the gunk off the floor boards. I dragged the furniture into a more logical arrangement and finally vacuumed until neat little lines appeared.
And then I rushed off to pick up the kids from camp.
When they left the house in the morning, it looked like it does on the left. When they came home seven hours later, it looked like the picture on the right.
There were some surprised – and not entirely of the pleasant kind – reactions.
But I told them, once they stopped fussing at me (“Where’s all our stuuuuuff???”), that there was a plan in place for them to earn it back.
And just how do they do that?
By keeping their room picked up.
Each night, and a few times during the day, I’ve gone into their room and pointed out items that needed to be dealt with: A wet bathing suit on their carpeted floor, a pair of dirty socks that didn’t make it to the hamper.
Before, the room would go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye – and I, like my boys, felt completely overwhelmed. None of us knew where to start.
With so few things in their rooms now, I don’t feel overwhelmed when I go in there. I can see what needs to be dealt with — and help them figure out how to do it.
Today is Friday. It’s been a week. Here was their room this morning. I didn’t move a thing – this is as it looked when they left for camp.
As you can see, their beds aren’t made (baby steps here; besides I am a terrible example of this as I don’t *gasp* make my bed everyday). And there’s a pair of shoes left out. But other than that, I think it looks pretty darn awesome!
For their good work this week, they each have earned the privilege to “reclaim” one thing that I had removed from their room last Fridy. My seven year old his chosen to earn back a second stuffed animal for his bed; my ten year old is still weighing his options.
Each Friday they can add something else back in. I suspect that as time goes on, many of the items I removed will hold less and less appeal to them. One night this week, I already overheard my 10 year old telling his brother, “I miss our [baseball] cards, but I do like our room better this way.”
Have you ever taken drastic steps to help your children get their rooms under control? How’d it work out?