I've been enjoying the dialogue on your blog about training children with managing their rooms. Once again, I'm amazed at the things I'm just now learning (b/c I was never taught), but now thankfully, I'm finding those "Titus 2" women out there like you and others who are teaching other mommies like me.
Well, my question, is what age do you do this at? Do you never have stuff in their room until they can manage it by themselves? I have a 7 yo (girl) and 3 yo (boy) who share a room right now. Just trying to figure how to implement this. And do you box everything up and put away (except a couple items)?
I know your time is very limited, but I'd appreciate a little more insight.
My thinking is you can do it at whatever age they begin having a room to keep orderly. I would be perfectly comfortable expecting a 7 and 3 (yes, even a boy...grin) to keep their room in order. Mine always seem to like having 'jobs' that are just a wee bit above what they are easily able to do ~ they seem to feel 'bigger' about doing 'bigger kid' jobs.
That said, know this... this method of taking everything out of their rooms is not about punishment. It is training. Any potential weeping and wailing from them can be dealt with by a shrewd Momma marketing the thing well.
"Kids, I have a great idea! You know how messy your room always is, and how you always have to keep picking everything up all day? Well, I have an idea that will make your room waaaayyy bigger, and give you tons of space to play, AND be really easy to clean up... so you have more time for playing."
Then, we would literally box up all but ____ and take it out of their room. (You'll need to decide for yourself how much is the right amount to box.) If you really want this to be a positive experience, then think cold turkey... the more stuff you box up, the easier it will be for them. I know it sounds drastic... I do. Trust me when I tell you that it will help them so much! We have for a season taken the boys down to just beds and their clothes were moved into the laundry room to live...we just put their dresser in there. Once they were used to just getting up and making their beds and putting their clothes in hampers, we reintroduced an item at a time per child. We allowed them to choose the reintroduced items, to motivate them to prioritize what they have and why. We have for a season also taken our big girls down to beds and one under-the-bed sized box of whatever they chose (they are older, and weren't having quite as much trouble).
Each time we did it, my kids were relieved. They were no longer spending all their free time sitting in a wrecked room looking around wondering where to start. Their attitudes about how much stuff was necessary in their lives was altered so that even when they worked back up to getting their stuff back, much of it they didn't even want. I have found that it was mostly the idea of it that they liked (i.e. "Hey...that's my stuff!"), and they weren't particularly attached to the stuff itself.
So, to answer your question, yes... My children can't ever have stuff in their room that they cannot manage. Life is too short for me to watch them spend unnecessary time and energy taking care of "stuff'. It is easier for them, because they watch Mom and Dad do this all the time with physical stuff and other areas like time and responsibilities. We cut what we cannot manage well. We ditch stuff, we cut out activities and we excuse ourselves from anything that is too demanding of us.
On another note, what they *do* have, has to be easy for them to care for. One comfortor or quilt (something chunky, so wrinkles won't show) and a bottom sheet is all I would expect them to be able to manage on their own just yet. All their clothes need to be easy to put away ~ down low where they can reach. Toys should also be as easy to clean up as they are to pull out. I had to learn that Littles can't do bookshelves ~ they need buckets for books, low hooks for clothes, etc. Toy boxes are evil inventions (grin). They were made to frustrate little children, I think. The only way to get to your favorite toy (which is always on the BOTTOM) is to dump out everything on the top. It makes keeping their room clean burdensome.
For a few days before you do this, I would study your children to see what their absolute favorite toys are, then plan to keep out those (if you keep out any at first). Then, after the boxing up party, plan a tea party to celebrate. Also, to head off discontent in the beginning, I always plan a few extra special activities to do with the children. When doing the activity, be sure to drop the, "Wow, I'm so glad we took care of all that extra stuff for you or we wouldn't have had time to do this. Isn't this fun?" line several times. Their reception is dependent on the spin you add.
One more thing... depending on the space you have, you may have to be creative about where to put the boxed stuff while it is waiting to be reintroduced (or purged). We always use the attic, but you may need to think garage or even trunk of the car... but it is best that it be out of sight. Ask me how I know.