Go Clean Your Room!
By Sue McMillin with Beth Shearer
— Organizing Ideas for Kids —
This article was originally published in
Focus on the Family Brio magazine for teen girls.
“I just can’t keep my room clean!”
The constant battle between you and your mom – Yup, this is it, the condition of your space – your room. Why is it so hard for many teens to keep their room tidy?
Rebekah, age 14, was a serious pack rat. She was a sentimental saver. She saved the tags off new clothes, any drawing or craft item given her by a younger child, the stuffing from an old busted teddy bear, the boxes that contained anything given to her, broken hair barrettes, straight pins and empty Vaseline jars. When she would get letters from friends, she’d misplace the letter but keep all the envelopes. She even agonized over giving up the sheet that her paper dolls were cut from! “I thought that organizing meant keeping all your junk in a junk drawer,” states Rebekah.
Why bother? Why is it important?
“If you don’t want to see it, just shut the door. Why does it matter anyway?” First, your room is not a separate entity. It is part of the whole house, a part of the whole family. To maintain your room to the degree that the door can be left open is to be participating and honoring your family. While you may not want to keep a tidy room, to do so honors the desires and standards your parents have established for the family. And that pleases God!
Second, to develop the habit and ability to establish and maintain order as a young woman will serve you as you enter college, marriage, career, whatever God has for you. God is a God of order and you will need it in your future.
I just can’t seem to keep it together!
“I spend hours cleaning my room and in no time it’s trashed again!” Why? Often it‘s because we have rearranged or tidied our things, not organized. Organization establishes a place for everything that we need, eliminates what we don’t. The greatest enemies of organization are:
- Too much stuff. How many ‘scrunchies’ do you really wear? When was the last time you wore that sweater that you keep shoving back in the closet? Watch out, your stuff just might own you!
- Yeah, but I might need it! Hoarding things may be a sign of not trusting God to provide for us when we need things. He knows our need before we do — and we can’t store everything in our rooms!
- But “So and so” gave it to me. While things can remind us of important events or people in our lives, memories (and pictures) will outlast most any memento. Watch out for things becoming idols of the heart.
- I don’t know where to start! The job of organizing starts with a little training, but hang in there girl, read on for tips on how to get the job done.
The “How To’s”
Five steps to a room you can live in! These five steps can be used for every area of your room; closet drawers, bookshelves, desks, etc.
The Plan: Start in one area such as your dresser.
- Dump It. Take everything out of the drawers.
- Sort it. Sort it all according to type, such as bras in one pile, socks in another, to-get-rid-of in another, etc.
- Toss it. Throw away, give away or store away things you’re not regularly using. Give away that sweater that’s just not you, toss that old T-shirt, store clothes that are not in season in the basement or attic.
- Box it. Use pretty baskets and shoe-boxes to store your stuff. Put one type — and only one type — of thing in each container. Avoid round containers, they waste space.
- Return it! Okay, this is the key – return items to their drawer when you are done using them.
This last point requires a little clarification. Now your drawers are all organized. The socks are in their basket, the bras in their box, the sweaters in the second drawer. The key to keeping your room in order is daily maintenance. Don’t just put things down, put them away! OK, I know, I can hear you saying you get busy or forget and it’s easy to throw the jeans on the floor and the sweater over the chair. Well, did you find time to wash your hair this morning? Did you find time to put on make-up? We always find time for what’s important to us. This is important and you can do it!
After attending one of my seminars on organizing the home, Rebekah painfully realized that she was greedily hoarding all sorts of old clothes and toys that someone younger could be enjoying. She learned to put her trust in the Lord, who will always provide for future needs. God did the heart work, she did the organizational work. Today she can go into any linen closet, junk drawer, medicine chest or tool box and completely organize it. She hangs her clothes in the closet and keeps socks and under garments in plastic baskets. She prefers not to use a dresser which tempts her to hide and hoard. Her now minimal and selective sentimental “stuff” is stowed neatly in a file box which she can find and manage easily. Rebekah has sharpened her skills to the degree that I hired her to work in the homes of my clients.
Now you can finish the rest of your room using the same five steps. Remember to contain everything in a basket or box. Have fun in the process. Have a friend over to help you. Use pretty baskets with a colorful theme or decorate your own. There is no set way to organize that works for everyone – add your own flair to the process.
Sue McMillin, a professional organizer, gives seminars to churches, corporations and associations on organizing their office, home and time. She loves working one-on-one with youth in organizing their rooms and lives. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Beth Shearer is a music teacher/choral director and free lance writer who loves music, writing, and chocolate.
Marie Walker is a freelance writer and full time mother. She has enjoyed homeschooling her five children.