Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The January Cure: Kids' Rooms

We are on snow day #3 here, which has been a major extension to the holiday break. All of this time at home is a relaxing start to the new year. It would be nice if it wasn't so cold outdoors (0 degrees) and there wasn't so much snow (approximately 22 inches) but it's nice to have some extra time with my kids, where we don't have to go anywhere or do much of anything. 

via Apartment Therapy

As I mentioned in my last post I was inspired this weekend by Apartment Therapy's January Cure to organize not just one kid's bedroom, but both. I promised to share my tips so here we go...

1. trip the lizard

Before putting anything away or deciding where even one thing would go, I first had to overcome my overwhelm. This was by far the most important step.

Wendy Joy Hart of the Procrastination Cure says that our brains perceive a big mess the same way our ancestors did a hungry tiger: as a big-time threat. The trick for getting around that is to override the lower part of our brain (the "lizard") to engage the thinking part (the "wizard"). The lizard brain is where your fight, flight, or freeze response is activated and the wizard brain is where your higher reasoning comes in. 

You do this by taking a micro-step

In the case of Griffin and Bela's clutter-filled bedrooms, my micro-step was to simply identify three things that I wanted to do this year to make their rooms more functional. For both rooms, I wanted to create zones for the things they play with and use; get rid of toys they had outgrown or that were broken; and be able to see the floor.

I worked with Griffin in his bedroom while Bela took a bath--thus limiting the amount of time we had to work on the room. I engaged him in the process. And there was a reward at the end: he got to have a sleepover with his friend, which he had been looking forward to forever. 

Seeing the progress in his room gave me the momentum to tackle Bela's room, and it inspired her to want to do it.

2. use shelves & drawers

Both rooms have some similarities that are important, in my opinion. A desk creates a good workspace whether you are playing video games (Griffin) or drawing (Bela). Both have shelves for books and toy storage/display. And each has a garbage can to make maintaining order easier.

3. decide and label
In Griff's room, we sorted the toys into piles and then decided where to put them away. He has six drawers in his desk so that provides great storage for colored pencils, video games, and special little toys. 

Bela has a large bookcase in her new bedroom with six shelves. She decided what she wanted on each shelf and made her own labels. I think this had more of an impact than if I had told her where to put things. She has more ownership of the room and will take care of it.

I also used a big garbage bag for this process. Griffin was better able to identify things he didn't want whereas Bela (age 7) had to be guided a bit more. I tried to be sensitive: some things look like junk to me but to the kids are important little artifacts of a life well-lived.

4. one day at a time
You can see more pictures on Instagram. Their rooms aren't perfect but they ARE greatly improved and I for one think there is a lot of beauty in that.  :)


  1. Hi Carrie. Such good information here, and what a ton of progress you have made in so little time! ~dana

  2. Loved looking at the pictures. Great post!

    1. Thanks, mama! Incidentally, your package arrived this morning. :)

  3. Great tips Carrie! I started off mine by cleaning out my kitchen office and my son's closet! What a relief! Now, on to the next!

  4. I'm glad to see that someone is able to follow the January Cure! I officially bailed! On the other hand, last week I did manage to take advantage of our master bedroom closet's storage space while reorganizing the studio / soon to be nursery. :) Thanks for visiting my blog by the way. I look forward to reading yours!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


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