Friday, June 3, 2011


Is being tidy one of those things you either are or you are not?
I'm thinking it might be.
I like things to be tidy.
I'm not judging others here.
I'm just saying I like my spaces to be tidy.
My house, my room, my kids' rooms, my classroom (when I had one), my work spaces.
That's not to say they always are.
But if they're not, I'm cranky.
Mess makes me cranky.

But can you teach tidy?

My mum is incredibly tidy. There is never a thing out of place in her home. It's usually clean too, something mine is not.
That's another one, you're either a clean freak, or you're not. I'm not.
But despite my mother's great effort to teach us all to be neat, tidy and clean...we didn't all turn out that way.
So now I'm questioning whether teaching your children to be tidy is a pointless activity?
They'll know for sure that I value tidiness because I bang on about mess all.the.time.
But what if I spend years nagging them to be tidy, then they move out and happily make mess in their own space?
I don't want to be tidying up after them for years, but I also do not want to nag unnecessarily.

What do you do?

Do you make your kids keep their rooms tidy, or do you do it for them?
Mine are 6 and 3 and I still do it for them mostly.
I do get them to help, or give them a number of things to put away.
My 3 year old is an excellent little helper.
My 6 year old, not so much.
We're getting there, but it is painful.
I guess it's painful for everyone though, right?

Got any tips or tricks for me?
I'll be forever grateful.


  1. I like tidy too. I had to loosen up when I had the kids as I realise kids = mess = fun!

    So they have parimeters for the mess! and yes they have to help me tidy and sort (ages 3 and 7).

    Mich x

  2. I was quite tidy and a clean freak before I had kids. I still am pretty tidy but have had to relax a little bit.

    I do make my kids help tidy up. They are 6 and 3 too and are OK but not brilliant at tidying. I refuse to let them sit on the couch and watch me pick up their toys! I don't expect them to do it all by any means but do expect some effort on their part.

    If they are leaving their toys out, walking all over them etc then I tell them that if they treat their toys like rubbish I will just put them in the bin. The closest I have ever come is to wave a bin liner in the general direction of the toys and the kids get moving!

    I think of it as more a respect issue (in regards to respecting their possessions) and also think it is important to realise that being part of a family means we all help each other...

  3. My Mum tidied my room, made my bed, did my washing. Forever. I swear if I moved back now she would still do it. I am not tidy. I like clean though.

    Sitting here typing this at my extremely messy desk, I wish I was a naturally tidy person. It would make life so much easier because I find tidying a chore when I wish it was just a natural "as I went along" thing if that makes sense?

    I like tidy a lot more now that I have three kids making mess but I refuse to tidy their rooms for them.

    I will go through every so often and have a big clean out but there is always the threat here that if they don't tidy their rooms, there will be a garbage bag headed their way.

    But I do think that it can be taught to a degree. I do think if we do it all for our kids they will always just expect it to be done.

    We now only help once they have made the effort to start or we end up doing the lot. LOL

  4. I have actually walked around with the bin in my hand, ready to pick up toys and books left scattered all over the house. That gets the kids moving and fast!

    The almost 6 year old is starting to realise that he needs to respect his toys and I am trying to get him to understand that people have spent a lot of money on things for him.

    The 2.5 year old and the 16 month old are like bulls in a china shop. So far I have no hope for them, but they have the same rules as the 5.9 year old do and I make sure they help clean up, after all they do make 99% of the mess!

    I have found setting the microwave timer for two minutes at a time helps get things moving. There's nothing like a bit of (friendly) competiton to get a kid moving :)

    I can't stand their toys and books all over the place and it makes me cranky and short with the kids.

    But I'm all ears for more effective ideas at this point in time!

  5. My dad's approach when we were younger was to come home and freak out, threaten to throw away anything that was on the floor....sure, made me fearful of my dad for my first 24yrs of life but we be cool now.

    I say lots of toy boxes and big closets to cram stuff into w/ company arrives.

  6. I'm with you Thea, if thing's are in a mess, it makes me cranky. Though most days it IS a mess around here. I do like order in the mess, if that makes sense?!
    I feel completely out of control if everything is messy. So I work through each section and then start at the beginning again!
    I'm trying to teach Mr3 to be tidy. The only tip I have is making a game of it. Although that does take time. I think that's where I come unstuck, because I do it quicker and more efficiently, I end up taking over and doing it all!
    P.S. Thanks for your note about commenting on posts, so pleased it's fixed up for you now xo

  7. Thea, I was nagged as a younger child to be tidy. Then I clung onto tidy as other stuff unravelled. Cleaning and tidying is now my control and safety mechanism...

    Olivia takes afer me. Charlie is instictively tidy.

    Lexie, on the other hand, she spreads her crap from one end of the house to the other with no remorse...


  8. I'm totally a neat freak, but not a clean freak at all!

    We're teaching our kids (boys aged 9 and 11) "freedom through responsibility". So, the more they show responsibility by doing their designated chores (which includes keeping their bedroom tidy), the more freedoms they earn. Freedoms include things like taking the dog to the park, going down to the shop at the end of the street to spend their pocket money and DS time.

    Oh, and they also have to meet certain standards in their homework to receive their pocket money.

    We're all about the responsibility and they are absolutely learning to be tidy!

  9. I wasn't particularly tidy, but *I* think it's because my Mum did too much for me. She'd ask me to clean my room..I wouldn't...she'd end up doing it herself.

    I find myself doing too much for my kids, and I don't think I'm doing them any favours at all.

    One day, I went to my friend Jen's house after school. As soon as we got there, her kids - without being asked - got out their lunch boxes, bottles etc and took them to the kitchen. I commented on it, and Jen said, "Yeah - they've been doing it so long now, it just comes naturally to them." I think that's they key. You have to put in the hard work in the beginning to get the rewards later.

    Don't give up, Thea! I'm not going to. I'm now doing less and getting my boys to do more!



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