“Given the right environment, you can give your children a safe haven for their treasures without helping them needlessly hoard or value things more than relationships.” –Tsh Oxenreider
Are you ready for this? Two days. Lots to do. With your kids. And a smile. Tsh suggests turning on some music to keep it light hearted.
Figure out the purpose of your kids’ rooms, and keep this firmly in mind when you start. Consider if kids have good relationships with each other, or if the home is adversely affecting their relationships. Does one child need their own space? Are they squabbling over toys stored in a certain child’s room, that should be accessible to everyone? Think about people more than things, and make your home work for your children- move things, give the kids the space they need to grow. Maybe combine two kids into one room, and use the other for toys. That kind of thing. Figure out what each room needs to be.
Declutter: take everything out, box up what’s too small. If you’re saving it for a younger sibling, store it away in a plastic box. In what remains, sort out the off-season clothes and keep them somewhere close, perhaps the top of their closet? Match up the socks, and make a list of what you have for each child.
Figure out what they need, and consider thrifting for it. Tsh gives these pointers:
- shop with a list
- but keep an eye out for deals on future needs
- look for quality brands
- but try new brands (could be a high-end Euro brand! Look for quality construction)
- Don’t take the kids. Amen.
- Know the sale days
- Stockpile- think long term, get future needs taken care of
- Go often- inventory changes daily
- Go with cash- a cheap shirt you don’t need is a bad idea. Cash helps you keep a level head.
Clean the closets while they’re empty, and organize. Put clothes away were kids can reach and put them away by themselves- lower the closet bar, keep a stool there, etc.
Get ready for some emotions. Declutter the toys- go through each toy and question. Does it still get played with? Is it missing pieces or broken? Keep what is useful and beautiful to your children, but they’ll have a hard time giving up any toys. If they’re not sure, box them up- save for a younger sibling, or rotate them back in. See if they ask about them- if they don’t, sell or donate. (I have to tell you, I did this with my kids. It was a LOT better when they could see me making piles: keep, sell, trash. The keep pile was much bigger than the others, and the visual helped. I was careful to keep everything I see them playing with regularly, even if it was as simple as a piece of yarn, to avoid a snowball emotional drama. Like the time I asked her to pick out her favorite magazines from a 3-year-stash and recycle the rest. Meltdown.)
Tsh gives a list of her version of “necessary” toys for kids. She says “…our kids could actually benefit from fewer toys, not more. The fewer toys a child has, the more inventive she has to be.” (And I’ll add…I want enough toys around that the kids don’t get inventive with MY stuff!)
- wooden blocks
- a few quality dolls
- art supplies
- dress up clothes
- play kitchen and food
- building toys, like tinker toys
- board games
- cars and trucks
While everything is out, clean the toy shelves and boxes. Clean the toys. Now organize everything so that kids can find them AND put them away (she likes a bucket system, with identifying photos on the outside.)
Declutter the books. Charlotte Mason coined a word: twaddle. “Dumbed down literature, absent of meaning.” Get rid of twaddle.
Clean the bookshelves, now that they’re empty.
Organize the books. If the organization is important to you, keep a basket next to the shelf for kids to put books in once they’re read, and YOU re-shelve them at the end of the day, just like in your public library. (For us, we keep about 20 books in the girls’ room, and the rest are stored in our closet to be checked out when others are returned.)
The Rest of the Room
Clean the floors, windows, blinds, door, door knobs, ceiling fan, etc.
Reflection time! Are these rooms a stimulating haven for learning and growing? Do they reflect your children? Ask your kids what their dream room would look like, and consider implementing one thing from their list in the next few months.