I could never get my kid to clean her room. Perhaps it was because it contained roughly double the amount of stuff it could neatly contain (probably more, but I’ll go with that for now).
Mine is the kid that saves everything, treasures it all, and has a memory like an elephant. There could be no slipping anything more than recyclable paper to the can without detection, misery and a possible trip to the therapist (me or her? you decide). Cajoling? Nope. Threatening? She stood her ground.
It doesn’t help — in terms of accumulation of crap — that she’s adorable, jubilant, has many interests and friends, and is the only grandchild.
It took me ages to realize that my child’s room wasn’t just overwhelming to me; it was so overwhelming to her that she couldn’t possibly know where to begin. The kid brushed off the idea that clutter was a problem, so I finally decided to test that idea a bit.
One Saturday when the weather finally turned from summer to fall, we emptied her overflowing bureau drawers one by one onto her bed. First, I asked her to weed out any clothing she didn’t like, or was very obviously too small. Then we played Fashion Show, and she tried on the remaining items. We began with long sleeve pajamas that hadn’t seen the light since March or so, worked our way through long sleeve tops and ended with pants. Then we hit the closet, repeating the whole thing. I could have died from boredom, except we filled FOUR BAGS with clothing (the only grandchild, the only child: A reorganizing of priorities was in order, clearly).
What remained (gift certificates had been used to buy her new pants/tops as were necessary because she’s been growing) fit easily into the drawers, with loads of room. The kid loved the closet, which now contained a couple of pullovers, sweaters and jackets, but stood over the drawers and declared: “I haven’t got enough clothes!”
I asked her to just see about that, and reassured her that stores everywhere still sold clothing if necessary. She found, over the next couple of weeks, that not only did she have enough clothes, the remaining pieces were her favorites. When they became dirty I quickly washed them and she had them to wear all over again. It hasn’t stopped her from wanting more, but when I mention that she would need to rid herself of clothing to bring more into the house, she demurs every time.
Update, Feb. 2013: The kid has purchased no new clothes, and after a trip to the Skechers store with her gift certificate, decided to wait until Spring for new shoes, as she felt she had plenty of options until then. Whee!