No More Clutter
Ah, the serene space of your children's bathroom. What, no? It's not organized and in order? Well, if you want it to be, that's actually fairly easy to achieve. In four simple steps, you can create order from the chaos, and keep it that way. Honest.
Set yourself up for success by doing this on a Friday afternoon or another time when you have time to deal with the child/ren properly. If you try to pull this on a Monday morning just before the bus arrives, it's not going to work, and you'll have no one to blame but yourself.
1. Prep the area.Remove everything from the bathroom. Everything that's not bolted down goes. Wet towels, laundry, toiletries — everything. Take heart: This is almost the last time you'll do this. Grab a couple of trash bags, stash the junk, and cart it off. Do this before the kids arrive. Towels and clothes go to the laundry. Toss the toothbrushes, and tighten the caps on the shampoo. Get a container of cleaning wipes, and wipe down all the surfaces.
Take no more than five minutes to clean the bathroom floor. You are not prepping for a visit from your mother-in-law. These are your children, the same ones who eat dirt. They can live with the messes they have made for now.
2. Gather your supplies.Get some fresh towels. Tip: Assign a color to each child. That way, they know which towel belongs to whom, and you can quickly tell who left a towel on the floor. If the kids are out of soap, shampoo, toilet paper or anything else, have some bottles or packages nearby and easily accessible. Get some new, unopened toothbrushes, preferably in colors that match your towels. Stack your supplies neatly in a clean laundry basket.
3. Greet the kids.Welcome the kids warmly and genuinely. Keep the atmosphere pleasant. Explain that you don't want to fight or yell, so you're going to make it as easy as possible for them to keep the bathroom clean and organized. Tell them that you're going to take no more than 15 minutes now to get things set up, and that they'll need to spend no more than five minutes daily to keep the bathroom in good condition. Show them the empty, clean space.
Give each child a towel and toothbrush, and explain the color system. Have them claim their hooks for hanging wet towels. Make it clear that towels are washed on Wednesdays (or whatever works with your schedule) and that barring approved emergency situations, there are no new towels outside of that schedule.
Have the kids replace the shampoo, soap and other toiletries, and show them where extras are stored. Explain that, when they remove the last bottle or package from storage, they are responsible for adding it to the shopping list.
Give them the empty laundry basket and explain that only laundry placed in the basket will be washed. Show them the wipes, and show them how to wipe down the bathroom surfaces. Explain that this should be done daily.
Post a small reminder of these rules in the bathroom for them to refer to. Keep a smile on your face, and then invite everyone downstairs for ice cream.
4. Enforce the rules.Here's the only tricky step: You have to stick to what you say. So when you go upstairs and see an empty laundry basket and a floor full of dirty clothes, smile, say nothing, and do not wash the clothes. You can, however, remove them, bag them, and stick them in your garage.
Wet towels on the floor? Take 'em, and make sure your kids have no access to your supply of clean, fresh towels. Hang the towels in your bathroom or somewhere else, or launder them if you wish, but don't return them. When the kids come inquiring about clothes and towels, remind them of the posted rules. Do this cheerfully.
You can return the towels on clean towel day, but the kids only get the laundry back after three days of successfully putting laundry in the basket, and they have to wash the load themselves to enforce the lesson.
Even if you are convinced this system couldn't possibly work in your house, give it a try. What do you have to lose? And let us know how it goes for you!
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