My kids’ rooms are a disaster. I have a teenager and an 8-year-old. There is no difference in the extent of the disaster. I find that kind of interesting. I also used to find it incredibly frustrating. That’s before I decided to try becoming a real efficiency expert. Actually, the only thing I knew about being an efficiency expert was that they probably use stopwatches, and all I had was a kitchen timer. That was still enough to make for a big change in the lives of me and my children.
The secret is to set a timer for 15 minutes. You and your child then work together to get one thing done while the clock is running. Personally, I measured success in being able to see the floor of my kids’ bedrooms. You might be lucky enough that you just need to be able to see the top of a bureau drawer. In any case, six days of 15-minute cleanings can add up to a big difference.
It’s okay if your goal is as simple as freeing up a few surface areas. That’s as good as any other goal when it comes to a clean bedroom. I started out with some trash bags, a basket for whatever laundry items showed up (and they will), and a separate trash bag for donating toys that are no longer wanted, but have been too buried to ever be found. I also keep masking tape and a pencil to do some quick labeling. Get everything where you want later, and replace the tape with something more permanent.
You’ll always want to have your child make his/her bed before you start. Otherwise, there’s no telling what gets lost in the sheets. From there, try this breakdown (instead of the usual breakdown you get from looking at your kid’s room):
Day 1: Clear off all surfaces.
Day 2: Clean all the surfaces, since you can finally see them.
Day 3: Get that stuff off the floor. Or at least the parts of the floor you can see.
Day 4: Clean the floor by sweeping or vacuuming.
Day 5: Get into the details. Have your children find the area they want to clean. That can be shelves, or drawers, or cleaning things out under the bed. Don’t forget to pull the furniture away from the walls and discover what’s been hidden there.
Day 6: Wash those bedsheets and do any additional laundry that’s shown up. (There’s always more laundry that shows up.)
15 minutes isn’t a lot of time to most kids. It’s just enough to make them not want to have to waste 15 more minutes by cleaning up another mess. You’ll also catch them spending 15 minutes each day just staying on top of things. Sometimes it even just takes 10 minutes–and I like to think there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.