I am a big proponent of training kids to be independent. One method used in our home is to train the children to do their own laundry. The age in which we ‘allow’ them to do their own laundry is anywhere from age 10-14, depending upon that particular child’s maturity level.
My big boys, ages 16 & 14, do their own laundry. Rahel is still very much in training, especially in the use of machines, so I currently do her laundry. Eli wants to get started on his laundry, he’s just 11, but very mature for his age.
Today, when the big kids were at school, I noticed that one of my teenagers has been struggling to keep his room clean. Among scattered laundry and stinky sneakers, it had just lost it’s sense of order.
I expect them to keep their rooms picked up and clean, but this son of mine has been pretty busy lately. I know he’s working hard to keep his grades up and conditioning for sports, so I decided to give him a gift today…the gift of order.
I just gathered all of his clothes up, both those on the floor and everything in his drawers. I washed everything, folded it and re-organized his dresser drawers. I didn’t remove anything, but put things away.
There was 1/4 inch of dust on his nightstand and dresser that needed dusted, iPod cords laying around, books, Bible, athletic wraps, you know the teenage guy stuff. Again, I didn’t remove anything, I just restored order.
When he got home from school, my son hugged me when he saw his room. I told him that I wanted to give him the gift of order, because I knew that he was working hard and needed a little extra support and encouragement. I know he appreciated it. He just needed to start fresh so that he could just get back to maintaining.
Humans in general are creatures of habit, and I believe that we all flourish more in an environment of order. Order, defined, is a little different for each person, but here are some benchmarks I try to shoot for in my children’s rooms:
*Proper storage opportunities for toys, books, electronics, stuffed animals and clothes. Regardless of the size of your home, there are ample, creative ways to organize and take advantage of the room you have. Stuffed animals can be stored in a corner-wall net, off the floor, that your child can reach. Bookshelves should be available to house books and toys. Milk crates are another handy little organizer. Electronics need a little station of some kind for charging, etc., you could use a special tray, small basket, decorative plate, whatever…. I find that when my family has the tools they need and everything has a place, then it’s much more realistic to expect them to keep their room in order.
*Clothes and shoes: With the number of people living in our house, we just don’t have room for excessive clothing that no one really needs or uses. Ask yourself how many outfits your child really needs, including school outfits/uniforms, play wear and church outfits. Kids don’t need as many clothes as they tend to acquire. In the summertime, my kids have even fewer clothes as it seems that they are always in their bathings suits and shorts with flip-flops.
Matching/hanging outfits together for your children can help them to keep order. They mess up their drawers less when all they have to do is grab an ‘outfit’ from those already planned. You could even do this together over the weekend. It takes a lot of stress out of busy school mornings because the decisions have already been made. You can rest assured that you won’t be doing extra laundry mid-week, saving you work and headaches.
*Clear expectations give your child the best chance for success. Write down and post what you expect in terms of cleanliness/order in your child’s room. If they aren’t reading yet, clip-art some pictures on a simple schedule. Then, praise, praise, praise when they do it right.
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