Clutter can cause stress in families, not just for parents, but for children, too. So how can moms and dads help their little ones get their belongings under control so they can take back control of their lives?
Joanna Dugan, the mother of three elementary-aged boys, and her husband recently renovated her children’s bedrooms, installing shelves for the boys to display their books, toys, and stuffed animals so that those items don’t end up on the floor instead.
“It just looks nicer,” Dugan says. “Clutter is overwhelming for a family. Making sure the kids have a clean room and aren’t tripping over things on the floor is one less thing to worry about now. We also have a chore chart and that helps keep the house in order so it is not so chaotic.”
Linda Clevenger, a professional organizer and owner of Organization Direct, says that helping children become more organized has several benefits. Organized children are more independent and self-reliant, have better time management skills and are less stressed because they know where items are and don’t have to waste time searching for them. Too much clutter may affect a child’s self-esteem or impact their life in school.
“Living in a space where clutter is the norm can cause mental stress for a child,” Clevenger says. “They can never eliminate all of the items that surrounds them — even when they are sleeping. Clutter can become the ‘norm,’ which can translate into a cluttered backpack, missed assignments, late assignments and overall poor performance in school.”
To combat that, Clevenger suggests creating a space for after-school routines, such as a place to store backpacks and other belongings for school, eliminating items that your child doesn’t need, finding a spot for items that children use on a daily basis, and finding the right place for homework and studying — whether it be alone in their bedroom, at a personal desk or at the kitchen table. Parents should set expectations for their children and hold them accountable.
“When it comes to organizing the homework itself, I have helped students keep their assignments organized through what we call a Scrum Board,” says Clevenger. “It is a white board using post-it notes to identify your homework to-do list, what you are working on and what has been completed. It can be very helpful when a child is looking at an entire week’s worth of homework and becoming stressed. Also, to keep assignments straight, a child may find it helpful to use a calendar system to write in assignments. The key is to break down the larger assignments into smaller pieces that they are able to accomplish in a short period of time.”