Dead spiders. Cicada carcasses. colorful leaves and rocks. My 10-year old nephew’s bedroom is filled with these “treasures” he collects while exploring the woods behind his family’s country home. His closet is stuffed with Matchbox cars, Star Wars action figures, assorted Lego blocks and Harry Potter paraphernalia. Then, there’s his ever-growing collection of Xbox games that threaten to overtake the family media center. On a recent visit, my normally affable nephew had a full-on meltdown when his parents tried to throw away his old Happy Meal toys.
Is my nephew a victim of our consumer culture – or should he be staring in his very own episode of “Hoarders: The Elementary School Years”? Children are notoriously messy, and in a culture that increasingly values object accumulation over quality time, it’s no surprise that my nephew’s room looks like a Toys “R” Us exploded. And while my nephew’s room may look like a disaster zone, psychology professor Randy O. Frost says this is not a cause for concern.
“Collecting is very important for kids, starting at about age 2, when they learn the meaning of the word ‘mine,’ up until early teenage years,” says Frost, co-author of “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” and a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts.
So, if it’s perfectly normal for a kid to have collections – even extensive ones like my nephew’s collection of bug carcasses – is it still possible to achieve order in the chaos? Absolutely, says Leo Babauta, author of the popular Zen Habits blog. According to Babauta, the key is regular de-cluttering, kid-friendly organization bins and constant containment. Follow these five home organization tips to reclaim your child’s room: