I hope I'm not violating any copyrights by posting this message from FLYlady here...mostly for my own benefit so I can refer to it:
Many of you over the years have sent in requests for helping your
children establish routines. I believe that everyone needs routines
and zones. As adults our zones involve the whole house. We can teach
our children all about BabySteps and Zones by taking their rooms and
breaking them down into Zones. This is long but worth the read.
Years ago, I implemented zones when I realized that my kids were
overwhelmed when I made the classic parenting mistake of sending my
kids into "clean" their rooms without any real instruction from me.
Then the tears that came when I went to check on them; they had done
what they thought was clean and of course it was not what I thought.
I realized that they feel the same way I do when a room seems out of
control and I don't know where to start. So we made zones. The
floor, the desk, the dresser, the bed and the closet. We set a timer
and they only had to work on one zone at a time. Instead of the
overwhelming task of "go clean your room" we set the timer for focus
only on the floor. Next was to let them know what they needed to do
with the items on the floor example: put the legos in the bucket, put
the books on the shelf, put the crayons in the box.
When the tasks are broken down into manageable BABYSTEPS they can
FLY too! Beating the timer was always the goal! They were able to
see how fast they could really do what needed to be done and feel so
proud of their accomplishment! Then you move on to the other "zones in
their rooms and then they learn how to "clean" their room one area at
a time plus they will see how little time it takes when they stay on
top of it before it gets out of control. They will find that they
like the order and the peace they feel with it.
This takes time, you have to lead by example and be patient. You
can't expect a 10 year old that has lived with CHAOS in their room
their whole life to change because you want them to. You will have to
help declutter their rooms first and then slowly implement what your
expectations are and teach them BabySteps. Give them praise for their
efforts and be careful of negative reactions when you think they have
not done something the way you would like it to be done. They are
looking for you to be proud of them.
You must help your children declutter their rooms before you can
teach them the zone way of taking care of their rooms. Once again
decluttering can be done the same way that you have done it in your
home. Do super fling boogies, hot spot fire drills, teach them about
these and help them early on how to let go of things that are just
taking up space that they don't love. Help them learn the difference
of owning things because they bring you joy and just being surrounded
by stuff that just takes up space, this will help them later in life
not to fill their own homes with stuff. Teach them to let go of
broken toys, teach them if they are so blessed with so many things
that maybe they can bless some other children that are not so
Teach them the value of 15 minutes and keep your word. Set
a timer for 15 minutes and work together, if you don't get as much
done as you would like too, let it go and let them go. Try again
tomorrow, set the timer for 15 minutes and go again. Let them see
that it does not have to be torture. As SHE's we tend to hyper-focus
and want to keep going, but your kids need to believe you when you
tell them it is only 15 minutes. When they start to see what they
can accomplish they will be more agreeable to jump in for 15
I will be perfectly honest here, I have decluttered their
rooms when they were not around to see it, things that I knew they no
longer played with, books that were no longer read, coloring books
that were full, broken crayons, dried up markers, a lot of what I
decluttered were things they never noticed were gone, but they would
have not considered giving up. I prefer to let them make their own
choices but sometimes we have to rely on when Mom knows best. I
would not recommend this for children over the age of 8 or 9, past
this age kids have established a sense of personal ownership and most
likely will notice things missing that the younger ones will not.
Now, you can take the zones in their rooms to the next level. Just
as we have the whole the house broken down into zones for a month we
can do the same for our kids and their rooms:
Week one can be the detail clean of the dresser. This means that you
straighten the clothes in the drawers, get rid of the stained, torn,
worn out clothes, the clothes that are too small and the clothes that
never get worn because they don't like them. Detail dust the tops of
the dresser by removing the things on top and really get it dusted
from side to side and end to end. This can be done in 15 minutes once
they understand how to do it and when to do it. There are 7 days in a
week that they can get this one detail task accomplished.
Week two can be the closet. Straighten the clothes, straighten shoes
and items stored there and vacuum the floor. The next week the desk:
go through the drawers, have a trash bag ready for this (kids love to
stash stuff in their desk drawers) and dust the top again taking
everything off, dusting and then putting things back.
Week three can be the bed zone - have them strip their beds to get
their linens washed (personal choice as to how many times a month you
do this depending on whether your kids bathe at night and if they have
pets that sleep with them) and remake the bed and check under the bed
for things that have gotten stashed under there.
Week four can be the floor zone, this is when the floor gets swept or
vacuumed really well, under the bed, behind the door, the corners and
against the baseboards. This is the detail cleaning that goes on for
the monthly zones. All of these things take less than 15 minutes and
only have to be done once a week, once a month per zone.
This takes time and effort, remember that you did not FLY overnight,
you took BabySteps. Teach your children to bless their rooms so they
can go out and bless the world.
PS Remember that the examples I gave you are what I did, you take
them and adapt them to fit your child's room and your schedule.