"Messy kids" can often seem like a redundant phrase. Aren't all kids messy? Well, yes and no.
They are messy until they learn better, and it's our job to teach them when and where to let loose. (And yes, there is a good side to being messy, Mom, so don't freak out if your child wrote the book on pigsties.)
One of the best places to start is with a messy closet.
Why Messy Closets Make Great Classrooms
At Sweet Bamboo, we believe the messy closet a great place to start because it's a small area so not too overwhelming.
It's also a great way to get your child involved in other household chores and to take responsibility for her things. Here are three core concepts your child will learn from this simple activity.
Messy Closets Allow Children to Learn About Organization
One of the first skills your child will learn through their messy closet is how and why it is important to organize. The lessons won't all land at once. However, the practice of repeatedly returning to their closet and seeing what's in there will teach them a lot about what they want and what they don't.
Help Them Assign Value to Their Belongings
As the lessons of organization begin to set in, your child will realize something about her priorities and preferences. She will start to realize the things that she values and that she doesn't. This poses a great opportunity to teach your child about helping others by donating what they no longer need or want.
Teach Them How to Make Decisions
Which of these two outfits is not like the other? Is there perhaps a better place to keep your stuffed animals and puzzles?
As your child organizes and assigns value, she'll start to grapple with some of these granular questions about what she wants in her closet and what she doesn't. From there, she'll be able to make decisions on her own about what belongs. It's easy to transfer those lessons into her other areas of life as she gets older.
Now that you know why it is important to bring your child into Messy Closet Cleanup Day, it's time to create an action plan for how the two of you can do it right. There are seven simple steps to taming the beast.
1. Set Aside the Time
The first thing you need to do is set aside the time it will take to get the closet under control. Clothes for messy kids can often be found anywhere else but the hangers. So, first things first, drag that pile out of the closet floor so you can get a sense of the space.
Make sure you have one-to-two hours ready for the task at hand. You don't want to break the flow of your momentum. The longer you can work uninterrupted, the faster it will get done.
2. Take Inventory
Organizing kids' clothes are typically pretty simple. You have the tops, bottoms, one-piece outfits if applicable, and undergarments. For babies and toddlers, you might want to keep a spot for diapers and Pull-Ups.
Take time at the beginning of your cleaning session to lay out everything you'll be keeping in the closet. Note hanging items and foldable. Consider purchasing a cheap plastic set of drawers for the folding items.
3. Remove Things That Are Not Supposed to Be There
Go ahead and remove things that have no business being inside of a closet, such as books, toys, board games, and dolls. There's usually somewhere better to place these items.
The good news is you don't have to decide on an official resting place yet. Just get them out of the closet, even if it means stacking them in a corner. Fight the distraction of cleaning the entire room at once.
4. Create a Donations Pile
As you're clearing out the closet and taking inventory, also take a moment to create a donations pile. This beats throwing clothes and other items away because you can teach your kid about charity while also giving these items a second chance to make another child happy.
Do remember to run giveaway clothes through the wash one more time. Remember the rules on how to clean kids' clothing so you don't donate unusable items.
5. Create a Pile to Toss
As you organize your kid's closet, make peace with the fact that not everything will be reusable. Sometimes you have to throw items away because they're ripped and torn or badly stained.
Keep those items separate from your donations pile. Toss them as soon as possible so they don't get in your way and impede quick progress.
6. Do Laundry
Ideally, you will now be left with only the items that truly belong in your child's closet: their actual clothing! Take this time to smell clothes, pick them up off the floor if applicable, and remove everything that needs another run through the wash.
This is a chance to replenish and start fresh. Better yet, you can throw everything in the wash and forget about it for a bit while you return to the room and tackle the rest of the closet.
As each load ends, transfer it over to the dryer. Keep working on folding and hanging. This part can be done throughout the day, but it should be done as close to your cleaning session as possible so you don't ruin your momentum.
7. Turn Attention to the Rest of the Room
Everything is back in its space. Great job! Now it's time to look at the rest of the room and figure out what to do with the remaining mess.
If anything does go back into the closet (possible if you are limited on space), make sure it happens in an orderly fashion. Take this time to explain to your child the importance of putting things back where they found them.
Messy Kids Need to Start Somewhere
The closet is the best place for messy kids to start developing their organizational, prioritization, and decision-making skills. It's also super-simple to do once you get control of the situation. All you need to do is follow the action plan above and repeat it before things start getting out of control once again.
Best of luck as you work on this with your kiddos. Also, as your child gets older and bigger, don't forget to replace some of their old favorites with new sizes. Search our store today to see the selection!