Getting teens to organize and clean has been a fight since the stone age. The battle begins as early as preteen. All of a sudden your sweet little darling that loved to help straighten up the abode has decided to go on strike and make a statement, which is usually, “This is MY room and I should be able to do whatever I want with it.” This war happens all over the world. It seems though with the additional stress of keeping up with friends and having to be the best in school the fight just gets worse.
image by home space, flickr
Our teens seem to think that guardians have no right to add the pressure of making them keep their home space organized when they are so overwhelmed with their busy lives. Funny how we overstressed parents seem to find the time to keep the rest of the abode together for everyone. It is up to us to take the lead and teach the lessons on the art of balancing our everyday duties.
Teach by example
By keeping the rest of the home tidy and mess free we teach by example. Everyone in the household should be involved with daily chores. Start teaching the kids early. When they are young have them pick up the toys after playtime. Involve children with early décor decisions as simple as buying pretty baskets to keep toys and books in. Give praise as they perform their duties. This all sounds good and if you have the perfect child it should all go smoothly. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no such thing as the perfect kid. As good as a teen might be the hormones and defiant behavior will eventually show up, most often manifesting in the battle over the “messy room.”
There is the just shut the door and do not look in approach; this does not work. Every time you need to find an item that your teen borrowed without returning, you will walk into a mine field. Items will be exploding in your face all around you. You duck and cover, the anger starts to set in, you start plotting against the enemy (your teen) and by the time they come home an all out war has ensued. Obviously this is not a good option.
A new décor to strive for
As the children get older they will want to redecorate their rooms. Tell them that they will get this reward when they show the maturity to keep their space clean and organized. In order to keep the abode mess free and peaceful it is important to have all of the inhabitants involved with organizing their own spaces as well as the community areas.
image by highfithome, flickr
Start with a plan. Just as you plan the abode when you are interior designing and redecorating, you also need to teach the children how to plan their own space. Have fun sitting down with your creative youngster to draw out a floor plan for their room yourselves. Determine the storage your teen will need to stay organized. This should be a major part of the design.
Once you have a plan of action involve the kids with décor choices.
Give a color palette choice to choose from.
Look at pictures in magazines and online to get ideas.
If they like to do crafts or sew have them help to make pillows for the bed or cover pretty lampshades to match a window valance.
They can have a painting party.
Being part of the planning and implementing of their own decor will give them an “investment” in their own rooms and encourage them to keep a neat room.
Remember less is more
Make the bed easy to make with just a duvet and minimal pillows. Keep the windows simple with plain roman shades and maybe a valance. Most important is to keep the floor space as open as possible for easy and quick cleaning. Make sure to have a plan to organize closets as well.
For extra storage you can run shelving around the perimeter of the room 12-inches down from the ceiling. Make sure that they have space reserved for everything. An area should be clear just for school books and a laptop. There will be no more need to randomly shove items under the bed or in a closet. Every night the routine should be to organize the room before bedtime. When items are taken out they need to be put back into place. Mornings should be easy with the bed being made quickly just by straightening out the duvet and fluffing the pillows.
image by highfithome, flickr
Win the power struggle
Your teen thinks that as they get older they deserve more control over their own environment. As a parent you need to teach teens that they have to prove themselves in order to gain these privileges. Once everyone stops struggling and fighting over this issue the stress will be relieved. No more shouting, peace at last.
As your child is getting more excited about choosing new furnishings and décor make sure that (s)he understands that the room must be kept neat and tidy or there will be repercussions. The more involved your teen is with the planning and decorating of the room will result in a room that (s)he is proud of. Therefore, your teen will be more likely to keep it clean and organized in order to show it off.
An important life lesson for all to know that is if your environment is well organized then in turn your mind will be too. This increases productivity whether with school or work, and reduces stress. You will have a win, win situation, and a beautifully decorated abode.
Let the teens spread their wings. Teach them to never be afraid to dance!