Children are forever changing and therefore their rooms will forever change. Each child is unique and wants to express themselves in their own way. This will reflect in their rooms and can be difficult for parents, who like myself are OCD. We want everything in a structural and organised manner, they want to display everything. There has to be some compromise. I have learnt to drop my OCD tendencies and they have had to learn to live a little tidier.
I believe that structure and responsibility should be taught at home and this is one area that can help achieve this. Living in South Africa a lot of families have full time or part time domestic helpers. Although this is a great help it can leave children never learning how to clean up after themselves. A necessary life skill that should be mastered by the time they head of for varsity.
What our compromise looks like:
My children have to make their own beds and keep their rooms tidy daily. Weekends are free as long as we have a clear path to the bed to kiss them good night. There is nothing more painful than standing on a piece of Lego when there is a crisis in the middle of the night! On Sunday evenings rooms have to be neat and tidy again ready for the week ahead.
Toys and books
Twice a year going into winter and summer we evaluate what they have and what they need. We donate anything that does not fit or is no longer played with. It is important to do this task with your children so they learn how to manage and control their own stuff. Each child has a storage unit used for books and toys. We agreed that if all their items don’t fit its time to donate something. We always donate in the run up to Christmas to make space for the new toys.
They actually need less items than you think, find a balance that works for your family. I have enough clothing to dress them for 7 days, so when we on holiday I don’t have to do washing. This works best for us. As for pyjamas we have two sets, one being worn while the other is being washed.
These few principles work for our family. The kids still have responsibilities but also have some freedom to let go. We have a helper one day a week, the kids understand that she is here to clean and not to tidy up after them. If their rooms are not tidy and cannot be clean, they will be cleaning them when they return from school. Grounding children with responsibility, structure and boundaries will better equip them when it comes time to face adult life. This is a gift we wanted to give our kids.