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LAmom

Help with cleaning/organizing/schedule---overwhelmed!

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I am a very clean person and after having 4 children have found that I can't maintain my high standards. I let things go, on purpose, so that I could enjoy my kids (unlike my mom who cleaned all the time and never played/read with me). I get letting things go.

 

BUT, any advice on helping kids keep their rooms clean? My 8yo dd can't keep a thing organized. I have helped her many times put things in place, make the room look tidy. She has stuff all over and tells me it is not messy.

 

The boys...!!!! AHHHH. Yes, there is a 2yo and 4yo that are very messy and my 6yo seems to be a pack rat. I clean that room often and don't know how to keep it in order. They try to clean it but it tends to be shoving things under the bed, etc.

 

I am so frustrated, overwhelmed, angry... My desk is a mess and I find myself having things very organized only for them to last a few weeks (i.e., the toy closet, tupperware cupboard, linen closet, etc.). Do most of you have to constantly be reorganizing things? What am I doing wrong?

 

I find that generally the house is picked up every day. I clean frequently though it doesn't meet my standards overall (plus, the house is old and some things just don't look clean even when they are....).

 

I want to not care but I can't function. I get stressed, anxious, etc. I want things in order. Do your kids have messy rooms? Do your cupboards and closets stay organized?!!

 

To top things all off, I can't get the kids to obediently, every day do what they know they should-- eat breakfast, clear table, clean up, do family worship and then get dressed for school (including hair combed, teeth brushed, beds made). Literally every day my dd comes downstairs without her hair brushed. Today I was so fed up in general with repeating myself to ALL the kids about what they need to do that I wish I could throw them on a bus and ship them off to school. I feel like they would have a better routine in having to catch a bus and be in public. UGH. I know that in general I am just crabbier today, want to blame pregnancy hormones, etc., but when things aren't working I know I need to change them. I can't figure out how to organize a chore chart, what to do in AM chart, etc. Not an ounce of creativity flows from me. :001_huh:

 

THANK YOU for reading all that! A little long-winded, I know. I must be venting a bit. Hope my questions are clear. I am sure I could have summed things up in a few questions....

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:grouphug:

 

I feel your pain.

 

A friend who has seven dc has all the children get dressed and make their beds before they come downstairs for breakfast. I'm pretty sure they all worked together--IOW, the mother wasn't downstairs reading the paper; she was up there with them (the last time I saw them, the oldest was 12, the youngest was an infant). They all had breakfast together, and then they cleaned the kitchen together and did chores together. I'm sure by the time the children were older she didn't have to be right there with them, but when they were as young as yours, she was in their midst.

 

Many people with lots of young sweet children find Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) to be helpful.

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:grouphug: Hang in there!

 

My kids are older now, but when they were little, we used lists for chores. They each had a list (with pictures) of the things they needed to do each morning. By the time they were 9 or 10yo, we didn't need the daily lists anymore, but we still use chore lists if there are several things I need them to do.

 

When a room is crowded with stuff, it really is a challenge to clean up, even for adults. My kids shared a toy room and our solution was some large plastic buckets. They were done cleaning up when EVERYTHING was off the floor and put into a bucket. Not necessarily the "right" bucket, but at least it was off the floor. Of course, when they were little, we had to all clean it together. Same thing for their rooms - each kid had a trunk to keep their "treasures" and a dresser for their clothes. The room was picked up when everything was off the floor and put in either the trunk or dresser. Simpler was easier.

 

Oh - and when my kids were little like yours, my house was only really clean once a week on Saturday when DH and I would clean. The rest of the week, we would just make do with tidying up each night at bedtime and keeping the kitchen clean.

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My son is also a bit of a pack-rat and has trouble keeping his room clean. When he was younger, we bought an organizer for him (like this). Each morning, he gets some free time before we start schoolwork. Before he gets the free time, however, he has to complete his chores. I assign his chores when he first wakes up. When his room was getting cluttered, the chore was usually to pick up anything on the floor, dresser, etc. that did not belong there and to put it in the organizer. When he got a little older, I asked him to look at his room and tell me what needed to be done to clean it up. That became his chore. It has helped him to figure out how to keep down the clutter on his own.

 

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It's the age/stage. It's just very intensive with training, and you have a flock of them to train. On the rooms, sounds like you may need to take stuff out. My dd has a bent toward messiness, so when she was little she had NO TOYS in her room.

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When my children were the ages of your children cleaning had to be very simple, direct and somewhat fun. We usually cleaned a room at a time and everyone helped in that room. They were unable to clean on their own, no matter how carefully I had organized things.

 

When we began in a room I would give each child a specific assignment. Child 1 picked up all the dress up clothes, child 2 all the blocks, child 3 all the books, etc. Or if we were working on colors, child one all the blue things, child 2 - red, you get the idea.

 

Once a child completed their task their prize was getting to choose what they would like to pick up next.

 

The biggest challenge for me was only praising their current efforts and not ranting on and on about how awful the room was. I still struggle with this.

 

After spending YEARS teaching them how to clean, we graduated to a 15 minute pick up. Now I set the timer for 15 minutes and we all scramble to straighten things until the timer goes off. We do this at least twice a week, sometimes three times and it serves to keep things neat if not perfect.

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Well, I am going to swim against the stream here and say--learn to close the bedroom door. I was in much the same place as you not to long ago and I had to sit down and decide what my priorities were, regarding the mess.

 

Now I require that common areas, like living rooms and bathrooms, be kept clear of toys and mess, and I require that laundry be put away/in the hamper daily. The children have "common room" chores such as vacuuming, dusting and emptying trash cans which they are required to do, but I leave their rooms alone. I suggest a daily pick up, but if they choose not to, oh well. I had to give up my impulse to have all their toys neat and in bins with all the pieces that go together. I learned to say "I don't know where your X is--it is not my job to take care of your things." And I also learned to say, " If you can't take care of your things, perhaps you have too many--let's go chose some things to get rid of."

 

I have modeled (and continue to model) how to keep things neat and organized, how to take care of belongings and how to be responsible for lost or broken items by taking care of my own things, and to some extent those of my youngest. But the bottom line (for me, let me emphasize) is that I cannot nag them into responsibility. As an adult I need to care for my things, and have respect for others in the "common" areas of the home. So that is what I choose to teach them.

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Do you have an organizing system in place for their bedrooms? I am an organizing nut, but still I am constantly decluttering and adjusting. You have to work with your own budget and there are lots of options! I love IKEA for kids rooms. Here are the pieces of furniture and bins which organize our stuff, and there's a TON of it LOL.

 

The breakdown of our house....everyone has their own bedroom, there is one extra room which has bunk beds, the play kitchen set and over flow of toys that are not played with often or community toys (except blocks, those are downstairs). They are 5 and 7, and DH trust me is another child and a HUGE pack rat as far as clutter/toys/stuff goes LOL. DD has a million barbies, calico critters and house, huge barbie dollhouse, doll bed and doll cradle in her room, along with the tons of other random items she has collected. They both have captains beds with drawers under one side. In the closet I have organizers. One side is all clothing, the other side has shelving for her millions of build abears. I also removed the doors on the closet and hung cute curtains. Each side has a tie back hook so if she is dressing, she can open that side and close when done, but often leaves the other side open because it more displays her things. I built and painted simple shelves from cheap pine from lowes and hung 2 above each kids bed. They keep little sets of random display things on those. I use the IKEA trofast in DD's room and label the bins. If things need to change just peel the label of and make a new one. SHe has two of the tall white towers with the green and pink bins. The green are more shallow, the pink are very deep.

 

In DS room I use these things from IKEA, and he has two stacked on top of each other.http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S29877698/ except with all solid bins. Man alive that can hold some stuff. Same idea in his closet, except with legos. He has a corner desk with hutch for his "lego lab" as he calls it, and a table beside it for his lego desplays. He also has a captains bed with shelves built along side (both beds are pushed against one wall) for display.

 

Downstairs in the corner nook area is where school desks are. They each have a desk, and a cabinet beside it. This is for school/personal related stuff only. They each have a nicer looking basket for their daily school stuff I fill up and put on top of the cabinet (cabinets are desk height) with a small white board (think letter size) with daily schedule and checklist for what they need to do. They each have a little desktop organizer for pencils, stapler, paperclips post its etc. On one wall we have 3 of these next to eachother:http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80134048/. Actually we have one single and the double, but you get the idea. We have the white doors that cover 2/3 of the cabinets. The rule down here is each kid gets one, DS the middle and DD the right side and whatever you can fit behind the door you can keep down here, everything else up stairs. I realize not everyone has this much space but you can work with whatever space you do. My bookshelf is the left side and my desk is beside that, with another bookshelf to the other side with my printer and also wii/media stuff.

 

We have one large great room and I have an old low/long dresser on one wall to act as a console table and corral clutter or odds and ends.

 

So my cleaning system for bedroom is I announce I am going to vaccum and need the floors clean. Often they will do their best but sometimes tell me it's pretty clean and just use the bucket method. My bucket method is everything I find on the floor goes in one of their buckets and they can sort later. I do the same down here. I take some kind of bin and just corral the random stuff I find and leave them out visible usually in front of the fireplace in corner as that is out of tripping path.

 

Also we use the garage as entrance and I have MORE IKEA besta bookshelves, 3 in fact and have them outfitted like lockers. I have a hanging bar and DH and I share one, each kid gets another. This really contains stuff when coming in. Also if stuff needs to go up to their room I put it on the low shelf for them to take up.

 

I have a sewing room, DH has the big bonus room upstairs as he works remotely and we try to model good organization. My home is definitely not a BHG shoot but I do have a place for everything. I probably have overkill for storage and often some of it is empty but it's hard for my kids to tidy up if they have to put everything away in a tight squeeze.

 

As far as cleaning schedule goes, well I do the necessary and keep a list of extras going for the few minutes here and there. I like the idea of just quick minutes of tidy up everywhere and corral clutter in to bins for each person. I don't spend hours cleaning becasue I don't have time and like you, I want to have the time for my kids. We do a game. I blast fun music and set the time for 10 minutes. This is a few songs worth, and we run around cleaning up. We usually do this toward the end of day, before DH is off and dinner is started and I just want to see a clean space.

 

I notice my kids are much more easy going and compliant when things look simple and tidy. I really like cabinets with doors, and ways you can put things away and not see them. SUre magazine photos with display shelves all over look great but I cannot keep shelves looking nice.

 

I also like WHITE. white bookcases, white doors, etc. Even in an old house it brightens things up and if painted something likle enamel paint it is very washable. Not that you hve the extra time, but if you have an older home simple things like brightening a room with fresh paint can make a HUGE difference. I have been working on repainting our kitchen cabinets white and cannot wait for it to be done. I get happy just looking at the side that went from old wood to white! And the walls are an apple green. I think it looks cleaner just because of the white and green paint

 

hope that helps at least a little! It's how my house is set up and works very well for us.

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Keep training them. That's what you have to do at this age.

 

Food is a great motivator.

 

Don't ignore it, it will get worse.

 

Help them clean their rooms again and then you check them a couple of times a day. People don't eat until rooms are cleaned to your satisfaction.

 

Last night I went to get one of my boys after he did not put his workboots where they belonged. Boys seem to take longer than girls on this point.

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Do most of you have to constantly be reorganizing things?
Yes! But basic cleaning gets done by the kids. We have evening chores. No games or computer time until it's done. We have many hands so lots gets accomplished...after the lot of them filthy it up!

 

Glad Remudamom said it first, they don't eat if it's not done. I mean hair, bed-making, whatever morning things you expect before breakfast. We also do this for bedroom/playroom/kids' bathroom cleaning, but that's only expected on Sunday here and it's a big job that earns a big dessert for everyone afterward.

 

I agree with those who've said to get rid of stuff. Too much stuff overwhelms kids also, not just Mom. Clutter=Chaos. I can only handle one type of chaos: Chaos from lots of kids or chaos from a cluttered and messy house. Well, I can't get rid of the kids.;)

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Thank you so much for your replies of encouragement, understanding, tips, etc. I feel like with the boys room we have decluttered 100 times....but I will do it again and maybe try to keep most toys out of it. One of the problems in this barn toy box that my husband's grandpa made him when he was little. He insists it needs to be in the room. I guess if we just keep large items in it (stuffed animals vs toy cars) it would work out better. :)

 

Anyone have a good site to recommend for printing chore charts? I don't even know where to start. Maybe with morning routine items and then go from there?

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