This post was written by Katie Morton.
I subscribe to the Flylady newsletter, which helps me keep our messes manageable. While my home is hardly a bastion of asceticism, it's absolutely less cluttered now than it's been in the past. Lest you think I'm bragging, let me assure you I've still got a lot of work ahead of me. This morning I became more determined than ever to keep on top of my goal of a less cluttered and more orderly home. Here's why.
Read More: 19 Ways to Beat Clutter Forever
When I read this morning's newsletter, I was delighted (delighted! I'm not using the word sarcastically!) to read the story of a mom and her formerly cantankerous, aggressive 5-year-old son. As punishment, this mom cleared her son's room of all the toys that were cluttering up the space.
I left him 3 matchbox cars, his Magna Doodle, legos, and crayons. These toys I thought would help him be creative and quieter. I explained to him the basic principles of tough love, that I only *had* to give him food and a bed. He would have to earn his toys back one at a time.
As a result, her little boy became calm and polite. When she tried to reward his behavior by giving his toys back, he refused. He preferred the serenity of his room minus all the junk. The mother was totally shocked at the sudden and vast improvement in her child's conduct, all because of the intended "punishment" of taking his toys. Her actions turned out to be the gift of neatness and order to her son.
Read More: Is My Child a Hoarder?
Parents don't always consider that maybe a multitude of toys could actually be considered clutter to our kids. We often assume that having bushels of toys would keep our kids happy and occupied. We think when they don't play with the old ones anymore, maybe it's time for new / better / more toys. Not necessarily.
Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project says, "Outer order contributes to inner calm." A scientific study was done that backs up Rubin's claim.
The organization web site Unclutterer says in reference to a study published by Princeton University Neuroscience Institute:
This research shows that you will be less irritable, more productive, distracted less often, and able to process information better with an uncluttered and organized home and office.
Assuming that the results of this study also apply to our children, let's think about the effects of clutter on our kids. This means in the absence of clutter, your child will be less irritable, distracted less often, and able to process information better.
In parenting terms, this means your child will be happier, a better listener (rather than being distracted), and be more likely to understand (process information better) and thus be able to learn faster and to better follow directions.
All of these improvements in behavior could make your child happier, better behaved, smarter and more cooperative.
Time for me to go tidy up!
Photo: Elizabeth/Table4Five / Creative Commons