When we tend to think about our clutter issues, we mostly think in terms of how it affects us or our spouse. We don’t often think about how it might be affecting our children. However, their home environment clearly has an affect on our children. This can follow them throughout their lives.We need to be aware how OUR clutter habits are affecting our CHILDREN. It can have a HUGE effect on their development.
My Experience Growing up in a Messy Home
It’s interesting. My mother kept our home pretty well cluttered up but it affected my sister and I completely differently. I am definitely my mother’s daughter. I’ve struggled my whole life with clutter issues. My older sister, however, went into a completely different mode. Her house is always clutter-free and gorgeous.
On the other hand, my husband was raised by the typical perfectionist mother. He isn’t any better off because she DID everything for him. That way it would always be done to her standards. So it’s just interesting what different effects our childhood environments had on us.
One thing is undeniable – our childhood environment DID have a very strong effect on us as adults. So, the message is, what you do today in terms of your home environment with your children MATTERS!
Clutter Kid vs. Non-clutter Kid?
Imagine how your child might turn out differently in a very tidy and organized home? Might they be more calm, more dependable, have fewer insecurities? I definitely had some embarrassment about my home that led me to avoid bringing friends over, especially in Jr High and High School when you’re embarrassed about everything anyway! And kids who have regular chores and good habits are going to have an easier time when it comes to having college roommates and eventually spouses.
True confessions time – I had a huge guilt trip when my extra smart middle son almost didn’t graduate High School. They literally held his cap and gown HOSTAGE until the very morning of graduation due to some missing assignments. He’s a great kid, but was always chronically disorganized. At one point, he was missing 14 different assignments in just one class. I felt like I had passed down a lot of my scatter-brained ways to him.
We had some friends who were super organized and their daughter of the same age was headed off to some fancy pants college, while our boy wouldn’t even attempt community college. I have never felt like a worse parent. I kept thinking if he had been raised by parents like that, his future could have been so different. That is every parent’s nightmare, isn’t it?
PS: He’s newly married and doing wonderfully, but at the time, the guilt really hit me hard and kept me from truly enjoying his graduation.
The Clutter in Your Home MATTERS!
The clutter can also affect your child’s mood and behavior. I’ve often noticed that my youngest son is always much calmer and cooperative when he’s on restriction. All of a sudden, he doesn’t have the distraction of TV, video games, and Facebook. While he isn’t thrilled about it, after a while he seems perfectly happy to read books, play with Legos or puzzles, and just generally chill out.
After noticing that, I decided to remove all the toys from his room. All the toys and games strewn all over everywhere was just overwhelming with him, and sending him in there with orders to “clean up that pigpen” would just push him into a meltdown. See my post on making it EASY for your kid to keep their room clean and also organizing your ADHD kid. I really helps these kids if you just SIMPLIFY things for them to allow them to focus on the important stuff.
Now that he only has clothes and books in there, it’s a much calmer situation for him and easier to keep clean. Well, not actually “clean”, but it would be a lot WORSE if he had his toys and games in there also.
How are you Preparing your Kids for adulthood?
Here’s a scary thought – your kid could be married and/or living on their own in just a few short years. Are they ready for those adult responsibilities? A child who doesn’t have any regular chores is likely to be an adult who isn’t capable of doing the day-to-day tasks to maintain their home in a liveable condition. If they are allowed to keep an excess of toys and clothes they are likely to not notice the clutter in their adult life – because that seems like a normal situation for them. You don’t want your future son or daughter-in-law giving you the stink eye because you didn’t teach your kid how to do dishes or pick up after themselves!
So, if you are struggling to clear out your clutter and deal with your own clutter issues, maybe it will be a big motivator to know that change could be making life much BETTER for your kids.
Suggestions You Can Try to Bust the Clutter
Why not try making some simple changes over the next couple of weeks and notice how your child reacts? Here are some ideas:
- Remove about 50% of the toy clutter. If you don’t want to give it away, at least box it up and put it in the basement or garage where they can’t see it.
- Simplify wardrobe choices by removing any out of season or too-small clothes. Consider laying out clothes for a week at a time for younger kids.
- Set up a homework station for school-aged kids to keep books and schoolwork orderly and organized for a stress-free morning. See Organizing Your Kids Homework.
- If your kitchen table is a clutter magnet, work on keeping it clean so you can have dinner at the table as a family.
- Work on getting together a chore routine that works for you and your family.
One resource that has been very helpful to me is a website called MyJobChart.com. You can set up a custom list of chores, for each child and then set up rewards they can earn from Amazon and other stores or just cash. It’s been quite helpful for my family.
What ideas do you have for helping to set the example for your children regarding their clutter habits?
Here are some other posts you may find helpful: