Over the last few weeks I have been trying to simplify our lives and our house to free up some headspace and make our lives easier and more enjoyable. So far I have tackled the kitchen, front garden, our commitments and food shopping. After walking into my girls bedroom last night, I hurt my foot standing on the smallest piece of Lego you can think off (it really hurt), feeling my stress levels rise and just looking at the mess I decided it was time to go upstairs and simplify their room.
My girls are 5 & 4 years old and they share a bedroom, which is not big at all, probably their bedroom is the right size for one of them, not both. There is nothing we can do about this so they are both squeezed into one room. Also my girls are chalk and cheese, the oldest (Eleanor) is into cars, aeroplanes and wants to drive Herbie when she is older. My youngest daughter (Jemima) is a girly girl, into Barbie, my little pony and wants to be a Mummy when she grows up. So when they went to big girl beds we divided the room with a bed on either side of the room creating an individual space for both. What we thought was a good system seems to be failing us dramatically.
Our Girls Bedroom
Every child I know seems to collect oceans of clothes, either ones you have brought, people have given as gifts or outgrown clothes donated to you. Do children really need all these clothes?
No is the simple answer all they need is
- 2 nice dresses and cardigans to wear to parties or other special events
- 2 Summer dresses and cardigans that can be worn for family days out, playdates or just playing in the garden
- 2 Skirts
- 5 Short sleeve t-shirts
- 5 Long sleeve t-shirts
- 2 Hoodies
- 2 Pairs of Jeans
- 4 Leggings
- 3 Pairs of Shorts
- School Uniform (2 white shirts, 2 school skirts, 2 school jumpers, 5 grey tights and 2 summer dresses)
- 3 Sets of pyjamas
- 14 Pairs of pants
- 14 Pairs of socks
- School schools
- Welly Boots
My girls really don’t need any more than this to be dressed throughout the year and have something to wear for every conceivable event. Since their room is small I left their pink draws in the bedroom for underwear and pyjamas, but I moved the chest of draws out of their room to give them some more space, which contains their t-shirts and trousers. The rest I hung up on their clothes rail in their bedroom. (Amazingly all their clothes now fit on their clothes rail and with added space that enabled me to hang up their dressing up clothes as well.)
Result 2 Bags of clothes left their room. The 1st bag is going to be donated to friends and the 2nd bag for charity shop.
I expect my parents would say you were just like it when you were their age but it always amazes me how many toys and bits and pieces my girls actually have. In my opinion the more toys you have not only the more mess you have or the more broken/lost toys you have but also the less imaginative play and/or sharing there is.
I have to admit I enjoyed this part of minimizing their room, I know that sounds a bit cruel but the thought of not standing on any more Lego made me very happy. It’s hard cutting back the children’s’ toys because they are things we have bought them and we thought they would like. They are gifts from family and friends as well as toys bought with pocket money and donated by my friends because their children are too small for this at the moment. To get through I followed these few simple rules to tackle this mound of toys.
- Are they still interested in this character (Peppa Pig , Thomas The Tank Engine, etc..) or have they grown out of them, therefore they don’t play with them anymore?
- Is the toy age appropriate?
- Do they have broken or missing pieces?
- Have I seen them playing with it in the last month?
Once I sorted through the toys using these questions, the toys that we’re no longer needed were placed into 2 separate piles; Charity or Donate to friends.
After spending nearly 2 hours going through everything I placed all the toys, I wanted to keep, back in their room and found an organised homes for them. For example, all of Eleanor’s cars went into a wicker basket next to her bed and Jemima’s My Little Ponies found a home in her top draw on her bedside cabinet while her special ones went on display on the top of the cabinet.
Result 3 bags of toys left their room, 2 bags for charity and 1 bag to donate to friends.
I will also say that I that some of their toys I removed from their bedroom completely, not so they wouldn’t have them anymore but to find a new home for them in our living room. The first being their lego, so no more hurt feet, with it now living in a lovely wicker basket under our living room window. This basket also consists of jigsaws, board games and Innotabs. These are social toys that are best played with in the family room rather than the bedroom. Also their books no longer live in their bedroom but have a lovely home at the top of stairs in a bookcase, which is must easier for them to get to.
Our Girls Bedroom After I Simplified & Mineralized Their Toys
Now their room is neat and tidy it needs to stay this way, I can remember as a child having battles with my parents about my own bedroom and spending some Saturday mornings cleaning my bedroom in tears but it taught me a great life lesson, how to keep my things tidy. Now years later I like a tidy house with everything having a place to live and if I use something it gets put away so I can find it the next time I need it. Although my husband is the complete opposite of me so as you can imagine this can be very testing. I would like to pass this life lesson on to my children too (hopefully without the tears). I can only do this by creating a few guidelines and strategies.
- Set An Example – I cannot expect my children to respect their things and put them away after they have played with them or even keep things tidy if we as adults can’t do that. So both my husband and I have made an agreement that we will keep the house neat and tidy. This might be an ongoing reminder to ourselves every now and again.
- Be Consistent – Choose a time of the day, every day when the girls have to go and tidy their bedroom. For me this time is after tea before they have their quiet time before bed. This means as adults we have to remember to send them to their room to tidy it and not give in to them if they have a temper tantrum to clean their room.
- Being Firm But Kind – I have decided to create a star based reward chart for keeping their room tidy. As my girls are into different things and I dress them differently it’s easy to see in their room who has been picking things up and who has not. If they get 5 out of 7 stars they will have a reward (a packet of sweets from the sweets box). This is a simple and effective reward as they are 4 & 5 years old. Although this may not be suitable for older children and I will have to adjust this system as they grow.
Being firm and kind also means not entering into a battle with them but letting them know this what we would like them to do and if they don’t do it they lose their TV time straight after tidying their room.
- Make It Fun – Create competitions pitting them against me, for example “let’s see if you can tidy your bedroom before I can put away all this washing or hover the stairs and landing.” Children always love to think they are quicker at doing something than their parents. Or play their favourite song in their room and we all sing along to it while tidying.
- Offer Instructions and Show Grace – Children are children and they sometimes need prompting to where things live and what needs picking up. At first they will not create perfection but in time they will learn.
- Praise – There is nothing like hearing you have done a great job. I know it makes me feel great when I am praised or something I have done in the house is noticed. Children live for praise and it costs nothing to say “well done what a great job” or “that’s fantastic thank you for tidying your room”. It’s surprising how far such little things go.
Do you your children have a simple, organised bedroom? Or are you experiencing hurting feet like I had? Do you have any tips or strategies that you use to get your children to clean their rooms?