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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go Clean Your Room

I return to report on my quest for organization, inspired and influenced by the article, Cool, Calm, and Decluttered: 25 Ways to Pare Down and Get Organized for a Fresh New Year, in the Better Homes and Gardens January issue. Today's focus is on Tip 17:

"Go clean your room," can mean lots of things. Give your kids a list of exactly what you expect, and let them check off the tasks as they are done. (submitted to BH&G by Scott Roewer, professional organizer)

Tip 17 knows my heart, because I adore writing lists. I even keep a Book of Lists. But Tip 17 does not know the hearts of my children. As usual, when I said, "Go clean your rooms," grumbling, moaning and complaining commenced, but when I handed them their lists, complete with little check boxes next to each task, the real whining started.

"We have to do all these things?" one asked.

"Yes," I said. "Putting your dirty clothes in the hamper and closing your dresser drawers are pretty standard when it comes to cleaning your room."

"I don't have any misk-el-an-ous, so can I go ahead and put a check mark next to that one?" asked my 9 year-old daughter.

"And this says to fold our blankets on our beds!" screeched another child indignantly. "Why? We're just going to get back in our beds tonight?"

"Okay, fine" I replied. "Don't fold your blankets. I won't wash your breakfast dishes."

He stared at me. It wasn't computing. "What do breakfast dishes have to do with my room?" he suspiciously asked.

"You're just going to eat off of them again tonight," I told him, using his same logic.

"Oh." He and his siblings went to clean their rooms.

For all their complaining about the lengths of their lists, when I went to inspect, I found that I hadn't been thorough enough in my itemization. I forgot to include:

  • Put books on proper bookshelves, not on top of the bookcase.
  • Socks are clothing. Dirty ones go in the hamper with dirty clothes.
  • Close the closet door.
  • A once-used towel is not dirty. Hang it in the bathroom.
  • The area behind your door is not storage AND its part of your room. Put that stuff where it belongs.
  • I will check under your bed. Don't kick everything under there.
  • ALL trash goes in the trashcan. Socks are not trash. I repeat, socks are clothing.
  • Sitting on your bed staring into space is NOT the same as "going to clean your room."
  • Don't come out of your room until you're done.
Nonetheless, their rooms were somewhat tidier than before they started. And I learned two things from this experience.
  1. It's hard to change the organization habits of other people, even small people. And its hard to get organized in a household in which you're the only person who cares.
  2. Children don't get the same thrill as I do out of checking things off of lists.

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