Both parents and children dread those three dirty words: "Clean your room." For parents, it feels like a never-ending battle to keep their children's rooms somewhat habitable. For kids, it feels like constant nagging. But there is a compromise!

An organized room is much easier to keep neat and clean. It also allows you and your children to be aware of what they already have so you don't buy something you don't need, saving you money and resources. Follow these tried-and-true tips for keeping your little ones' rooms organized.

  1. Designate a place for everything. First of all, everything in a child's room needs to have a place to live. Some belongings may sit out in the open – stuffed animals on the bed, prized possessions on top of the dresser – but most should be put away in drawers, shelves or the closet. Your child should help decide where things go, so it will be easy for him or her to remember where it belongs!
  2. Use sturdy bins. Having plenty of containers – whether you recycle simple shoe boxes or buy color-coordinated cloth bins – is the key to kid organization. And consider whether you really want lids on the containers. They make the room look neater, but that one extra step might feel overwhelming to your child, placing a roadblock to a clean room.
  3. Label where things go. Add labels to the containers so kids know where to find things and where they go later.
  4. Use hidden spaces. Don't have enough room for everything? Find long, low containers for under the bed. Try an over-the-door shoe organizer for more room inside the closet. Replace a short bookcase with a tall one or add shelves to the walls.
  5. Establish a one-in, one-out rule. One way to limit belongings or the size of a collection is to make a rule that nothing can be added unless something else goes.
  6. Set a deadline for party favors. Oftentimes when kids go to parties, they come home with bags full of small plastic toys. These are exciting for a few days, but then are forgotten. Set a time limit – say a week or two – that if something isn't played with, it gets recycled or thrown out.
  7. Limit the artwork. Kids love to draw and, once they start school, bring home near-daily works of art. If your child – or you! – likes to keep all these, figure out a rule for how many to keep. You might put up a corkboard in your child's room and keep whatever fits. Another option is to keep everything, but once or twice a year, pare it down to a few favorites.

These are just a few ideas to try. Your household may need to adopt other rules to keep rooms clean (no eating in the bedroom, for example, ensures your dishes don't disappear!). While it may take some time to set up an organizational system, in the long run, it will be time well spent to keep your children's rooms tidy.

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