Chances are, if you are on social media or have a Netflix subscription, you have heard of professional organizer Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series, Tidying Up. She encourages people to reduce consumption and possessions, focusing on what “sparks joy” as they declutter and clean. While a minimalist lifestyle is not desirable for everyone, I think most parents would appreciate their children having tidier rooms! Here are some ways to help your children tidy up their spaces.
1. Lead by example
This phrase is repeated in many areas of parenting, but that does not make it any less true! When you lead by example, your children gain valuable insight into who they should be and how they should live. In 1 Timothy 4:12, the Bible tells us to lead by example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” This extends to parenting, as we show our children how they should live by setting the best example we can. When children see both their parents tidying up and maintaining a clean, organized home, they learn that it is a valuable pursuit. They also learn to place less emphasis on things they have, rather focusing on intangible things like relationships and knowledge.
2. Work on tidying up together
Don’t expect your child to magically know how to clean and tidy on their own! By cleaning up together, you can give your child growth-centered feedback throughout the tidying process. This constant, positive feedback will give them the chance to learn how to tidy up as they go along, instead of learning through trial-and-error. It can also provide a valuable bonding experience as you learn about what is important to them, what things they value and enjoy the most. What things spark joy for them, and what things do not really seem to matter? What things do they decide to keep without even thinking about it, and what things are less important?
3. Don’t try to “fix” their version of a job well done
While feedback is important, and there are some obvious rules that must be in place (no dirty dishes left around, for example), it is important that as your child gets older they are able to clean in their own way. You might want to store post-its and pens in a desk drawer, but your child might really enjoy seeing their multi-colored gel pens and patterned post-its every time they walk by their desk. Perhaps you prefer hanging shirts, but your child would rather put them in a drawer. Maybe you would make the bed with the quilt tucked in, but they like it hanging down. Whatever the detail may be, don’t try to fix everything you would do differently. The important thing is that they are learning, trying new things, and figuring out what works best for them!
Now, you are ready to begin creating a tidy, welcoming home with your children, and teach them how to do the same with their own spaces!