Anyone who’s raised a child or two will attest that good housekeeping hardly stands a chance against toddlers and young children. Having become recently mobile and semi-verbal, children in the age range between the “terrible twos” and mid-elementary school are just learning concepts or organization, tidiness, routine, cleanliness, and obedience. There are, however, some creative ways get their rooms tidy and make it easy for the children to practice daily cleaning routines. Below are some ideas that may help.
Organize by categories and color. It’s been well documented that the human brain isn’t done developing until it’s about 26 years old, so the brain of a toddler or young child is nowhere near equipped to do the advanced organizing that adults can do. However, young brains are perfect for finding patterns and adding to them. To help make cleaning easier for children, then, play to their penchant for patterns by organizing their things in broad categories like “clothes,” “big toys,” “coloring books,” and “shoes.” Children are also well equipped to handle color organization, so stacking books or clothes by color will help them learn.
Keep bins and storage low. If you want your children to participate in the cleaning and get them accustomed to putting things away on their own, you need to make sure that “away” is within their reach — literally. Don’t decorate with bookshelves too high for small children. Moving the tension bar for hanging clothes to a height a child can reach. It may feel awkward to you, but in the long run, it’ll get your child in the rhythm of tidying.
Let your furniture do double duty. Children’s rooms are known to become cluttered quickly, so if you can let the furniture also work as storage places, you may be able to cut down on extra work. Take, for example, a bookshelf. Upright, it’s too tall for children and single-use. However, laid on its side, it’s easily accessible to children and can be upcycled to be a bench with a little fabric and foam.
Use baskets and storage bins liberally. Tubs, bins, and baskets are perfect for holding children’s toys that are large and awkward to store elsewhere. Long flat tubs slide well under lofted beds for out-of-sight storage. Baskets are aesthetically pleasing, too, so keeping the room well-decorated and clean would be easy with large baskets. They’re also perfectly within a child’s reach, so the guiding principle of “make it child-friendly” still stands.