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What Is That Smell?!

Written by: Pamela Cole Harris
Submitted On: 2/13/2004

Copyright 2003/2004 Pamela Cole Harris
Used with permission. All rights reserved.

When you call 9-1-1 because there is a distinct and suspicious odor about the neighborhood, and the culprit turns out to be two pairs of sneakers, three pairs of under- wear and a dozen or more hot dog remnants of unknown origin and vintage found under your child’s bed, it’s past time to get your child’s room organized!

When your child gets lost in the mounds of clutter on the journey from the bed to the door, it’s past time to teach your child to organize himself!

But if you haven’t reached that stage yet, there is still hope! Here are some tips to help you teach your children tidiness and organization:

1) Your child learns by example. If the only clear area of your home is the path from the sofa to the television to the refrigerator and back, then it’s time to commit to organizing your home! Make the process a family project so that your children can learn that everyone must pitch in to keep the home tidy.

2) Establish a routine and stick with it! Teach your child that beds are made and toys are picked up every day. It is easier for a child to keep a room tidy a little every day, rather than be faced with a huge mess all at once.

3) Provide plenty of storage -- shelves, plastic storage containers, hampers, etc. Use a plastic storage unit made for storing garden tools in the child’s room. Attach laundry bags in colorful colors to the hooks meant for rakes and shovels. Spray paint in a cheerful color to match the room. Voila! A fun storage area!

4) Reward your child’s cleaning and organizing efforts with fun! Make a checklist of tasks with a reward when the tasks are completed such as permission to watch a favorite show, listen to a favorite CD, time to play a favorite computer game or a special story time with you. Simple rewards such as these will provide an incentive to keep up the good work! Make a game of cleaning! This works especially well with young children. A game of “Pick Up” to see which of you can pick up more clothes within a certain time limit or a game of “Hide the Clothes in the Hamper” will make cleaning!

5) Be specific. Telling a child to “clean that room” can set the stage for failure and frustration. The task may seem overwhelming! But telling your child to pick up the clothes which are on the floor allows your child to focus in on a specific, achievable task.

6) Limit the amount of “stuff” your child has. Once a month, go through your child’s room together and give toys that have been tired of and clothes that have been outgrown and are no longer needed to those less fortunate. Not only will your child’s room stay cleaner, but they will learn a valuable lesson in sharing and giving.

Although you may think it inevitable, the process of keeping your child’s clean need not be a war! If you are consistent with the rules of tidiness, your child will learn what is expected and do it (eventually!). If you are inconsistent, you have already lost the battle! Better stock up on flash- lights and compasses in case you need to find your way to their closet!

--Pamela Cole Harris is an editor and writer with 35 years experience. Visit for casual decorating ideas for a kid-friendly home. Or for unique content for your website, written especially for your keywords and audience, visit her online at:
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