We have tried flip charts and check charts, reward stickers and money, punishments and restrictions, timers and schedules. The good news -- almost all of them worked! For a time . . .
Then, we decided that they simply had too much stuff for any child to keep clean. Our oldest, a boy, does fairly well maintaining responsibility for his belongings regardless of what plan we have in place at the time. Our girls, however, share a room and struggle unbelievably in keeping it orderly. So, we pulled out the boxes and bags and put away A LOT of stuff. That helped, for a little while. We removed almost all the toys from their room and kept them elsewhere. That also helped, for a while. What next?
Turning to Scripture (no, there's nothing about messy rooms specifically in the Bible), we read Luke 16: 10, 11 which says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"
- They must first show faithfulness with a little before we trust them with much
- This topic carries eternal weight since how we handle our worldly wealth will show our trustworthiness with true riches
Obviously, no one is losing their salvation over an unkempt room, but they must learn to grasp responsibility even in the smallest areas. So, we continue to search for a solution.
Here is what we have finally found that has kept this room looking like this for over a week (yes, seven whole consecutive days in a row! --totally redundant, I know, but I am so excited):
We moved out all of their clothes. Although other items added to the clutter, the clothing was the biggie for them. Can't decide what outfit to wear? Just pull out those shirts and stack them on dresser for now. Can't find your pajamas from last night? Don't bother looking behind the dresser or under the bed, just pull out more! Spilled sauce on your shirt? Quick, throw it on the floor and grab a new one.
All of their clothes got packed up in storage bins and moved to the master bedroom (just a convenient place, and also where we fold laundry). Then, they picked select clothes to keep in their room. They each chose 7 outfits including socks and undies (enough for the week) and 2 sets of PJ's. This is drastic, but it has worked so well, and has so many perks.
This has helped them keep track of their pajamas, because they don't have a drawer full to choose from every night. They think about their clothes when they take them off, because they don't have anything else to worry about in their room. Since the bins stay right where we fold the laundry, that goes much more quickly as well. The couple times they did need to change midday we would replenish with a new outfit from their bin. Mornings go so much more smoothly because rather than having their overflowing drawers to sift through, they have just a few outfits that they picked out and love.
Now they can have fun in their room and even have room to play with their little brother in there. Of course, whenever the camera is out they have to get in just one more shot. :-)
I'm sure others have some great ideas as well. This has worked for us so far and I wanted to share in case others are facing the same dilemma.