Getting to sleep amongst the clutter….

Sarah left me a great question in the comments of the post I wrote earlier about my son and his pirate collection. She said she feels strongly that kids need an uncluttered space to sleep in and asked me how I balance the two…allowing my son to leave his pirates on the floor while at the same time keeping his room from getting overrun in clutter that might affect his sleep.

This is such a great question because I definitely agree that there is a correlation between clutter and sleep. I know this only from personal experience but not with my son as you might think but with my daughter. I even posted about it here back when I first started blogging. You see there are days my daughter will toss and turn like you wouldn’t believe for hours on end before finally falling to sleep. It is then that I know it is time again to declutter her room and then once we get her room cleaned out and pared down she falls asleep much easier. She still fights my logic even though I have proven my theory with her over and over again.

My son on the other hand is a an awesome sleeper…the minute his head hits the pillow he is lights out. So I don’t worry so much about him and the pirates all over his floor in terms of his sleep although a compromise does exist about the “mess” that I probably should have mentioned earlier. If you look at the picture you’ll see that it is only pirates covering his floor. That is because he agrees, although I do still have to gently nudge him, to keep his clothes picked up, his books put away and anything else put away that doesn’t resemble ugly men wearing eye patches and waving swords in exchange for Pirateville to remain undisturbed by me. If he wants to pull out other toys to play with the pirates would have to be put away first into their designated spaces. The only other rule I have is that he must leave a path to his bed.

I would never agree to allow my daughter’s floor to look like my son’s. It just wouldn’t be conducive to a good nights sleep for her. Is it fair? Maybe not, but I have to do what is best for each of my children according to their own unique personalities. That is my job as a parent whether they like it or not.

What are your thoughts?

Filed under: Kid Stuff, Organizing


26 Responses to Getting to sleep amongst the clutter….

  1. 1
    islandarts says

    I would also address the bed orientation in the room. You’d be surprised how much that can effect a child’s sleep. If I’m tired I could sleep standing up but during the day, clutter drives me insane.

  2. 2
    Sarah says

    As far as fairness, I gave up on that a long time ago — fairness is giving each child what they NEED, not giving each child exactly the same thing (although they will argue that point as long as the day is).

    I agree with you from personal experience that a clean room is conducive to better sleep, but I don’t do very well fighting the fight with my kids. When I fear breaking my neck when I go in to wake them or tuck them in, they must do something.

  3. 3
    Jane says

    I worked with an amazing special ed teacher who said, “Fair is not everybody getting the same thing. Fair is everybody getting what they need to succeed.”

    It’s a great lesson to learn and applys to almost any adaptation that we need to make to be successful. Different people need different things.

  4. 4
    Christine says

    Well, the kids’ room in our house are often messy. We try to do a clean-up once a week but it usually goes more like 2 weeks. For Colin it’s various lego and knex projects, for Maddy it’s just a hodgepodge since she likes to combine toys- pieces of this and that in one playful conglomeration. I never thought of it messing up their sleep, but I agree that it depends on the child. Colin would sleep if there was a war going on and Maddy often wakes up.

  5. 5
    Kim says

    I agree that fairness is giving what each child needs, not exactly the same thing. My two girls share a room so it can sometimes be tricky. The little one needs to have lots of stuffed animals around, but the big one does better with a clutter-free environment. We have worked at the right balance since they share a room. Our solution is a doll crib nestled against the bottom bunk (the little one’s) with plenty of her “friends” in it. The top bunk stays clear as well as the rest of the room. That’s our best plan by far.

  6. 6
    Theresa says

    I never gave the clutter/sleep thing a thought until now. You’ve given me something to think about.

    My boys would love all the pirate stuff!!!

  7. 7
    ~Betty~ @ On the Journey to Victory says

    As I was reading this post & comments I just got an insight. My husband has not been sleeping really well lately. I have been working hard on decluttering our home and I have made a list of what I need to do. Our bedroom has been on the bottom of the list. This post just made me think maybe I need to reconsider my priority list and consentrate on our room for the sake of my husband’s sleep.

    Thanks Laura for helping those of us who organization does not come nautually, to think differently. I think you are great and your blog is great!


  8. 8
    Trista says

    My mom has raised all 4 of her children differently…all according to their maturity level and needs. I was a lot more mature and careful for my age..while my sister is not. I agree wholeheartedly that all children have different needs and its up to the parents to decide what is best for each child.

  9. 9
    Cheri says

    For the most part, The Boy (10)is responsible for his own room. He’s supposed to clear it enough to vacuum once a week and have a safe path from the bed to the door.

    Other than that, it’s his mess, in his room. He’s not supposed to leave his toys/books in other areas of the house. It just works for us that way.

    Oh – and he’s a terrific sleeper, just like his dad. Me, on the other hand… let’s just say I’m still trying…

  10. 10
    Kili @ Live Each Moment says

    my mom did have a rule though that my brother could only leave something out for x many days. like his race car track was expensive and took time to set up therefore he was allowed to leave it out longer. Something like this probably a couple of days. then it had to be put away for a few days.

    another solution my mom did is had a huge board (more sturdy that card board, we’re talking a board) just slightly smaller than his bed. It fit very nicely and if he wanted something (like these pirates) out he could set them up on the board and at the end of the day or when he left to go somewhere he slid the board under his bed out of sight but still set up.

    I like that idea, the board idea.

  11. 11
    Jenny says

    Even when we do the cleanup my boys have their bases up and running (castles…ships etc). My boys are fortunate that their bedroom doesn’t get cluttered,because they have a playroom that is right outside of their room. But to some they would think the bases look cluttered and unsightly but to us it’s a part of them and I love the fact that they have these cool toys to play with.
    I agree with you Laura, these “bases” as we call them aren’t harming anyone.

  12. 12
    Jenny in Ca says

    I totally agree, sometimes our parenting will not always be logical, or fair. We figure our what works. I have a hard time thinking among clutter.

    good tip about agreeing on only one kind of clutter on your boy’s floor. Very smart.

    thanks for sharing, I am enjoying your blog, thought I would de-lurk and comment!

  13. 13
    palmtreefanatic says

    I strive for clean up every day in their rooms! this means beds made…clutter put or thrown away…..if I keep after them we keep a pretty tidy home!

  14. 14
    HopewellMomSchool says

    I grew up in a chaotic home. By that I mean clutter, junk, clutter and more clutter. And a Dad with [as it was called then] manic depression. So add stacks and stacks of paper. I accepted it…..until I lived abroad and had a daily cleaner [3rd world country]. I am not now and never will be Martha but I do know this really, really does affect sleep, focus et. I’ve often wondered if it affects ADD , ADHD. Noise clutter is another problem–tv in one room, stero, dishwasher, video games–all at once! I sleep with the bed made tight, room “decent” and a fan on. My son’s trouble are eased by this as well. My d needs an orderly room, her stuffed animals and a soothing lullaby tape when she’s really tired.

  15. 15
    Judi says

    I never thought about this until now either. I do think you are doing the right thing by evaluating each childs needs and (whether it’s fair or not) making rules accordingly.

  16. 16
    Sarah says

    I agree that different children have different needs. I think my girl is just too high strung for this to work for her (leaving stuff out). She just got some new legos and I just don’t know how I can help her. We can’t even have a clock in her room because she is so fixated on it (when the 7 is at the front she can come down).

    Maybe we can get a sheet to cover her legos or something.

    My boy would sleep through anything.

  17. 17
    Lynn says

    My bedroom is a mess! Especially the corner nearest to my side of the bed. Maybe that’s why I can’t get a good night sleep. One of these “free weekends”(I think I have one coming up in the year 2014) I’m going to get rid of the clutter (she said hopefully) and then say hello to a good nights sleep…I can hardly wait.

  18. 18
    Kimberly says

    What an interesting line of thought! I don’t have an opinion yet but hey, neat! =P

  19. 19
    Kara says

    Hm, I wonder if that’s why I can’t sleep well? My room is almost constantly cluttered. Oh wait, it’s cuz I have a baby and sick hubby to take care of! lol, no seriously I’ve had trouble sleeping since I was a teenager, and usually my room is the most cluttered room in the house. My dresser collects things we don’t know where else to put. So I think today I am going to declutter my room and see if that helps at all.

  20. 20
    Barb says

    I couldn’t possibly agree more, Laura. Each child has different needs. As long as everyone is happy, what’s a few pirates on the floor? My husband could sleep in the middle of a crowded room with loud music going. Not me. We’re different. Mess doesn’t bother him. Makes me crazy! Chances are your son sleeps better because his little pirate world IS right there where he wants it to be.

  21. 21
    Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney says

    Every child is different and you know your own best!

    There is also something to be said for CREATIVITY. I know for one that creativity is often stifled by the “clean that up! it is a mess, what are you thinking!” type comments. If your child has a creative bent, you can find a compromise on the clutter. Don’t squelch it.

  22. 22
    Anonymous says

    WOW- I was so happy to see that picture and how you are letting his creatations stay- I think you have choosen to give your child a blessing – you have choosen to see your children as they are and are making them memories of a happy childhood-
    Meme in Canada

  23. 23
    KC says

    I have never given the sleep/clutter thing a 2nd though. Clutter is something that doesn’t bug me much(until I start to declutter LOL)I can sleep perfectly fine in a messed up room just as well as I can in a clean room and I thought my children were the same way(seeing how most nights I can’t find floor in the girls room LOL) BUT my 7 year old son normally is a neat freak(something i’m not)and he keeps his room clean most of the time everything in a place sort of boy. The last few weeks he hasn’t been putting his stuff away at night and the toys are spread across the floor(I don’t know why i didn’t ask) but not that I am thinking about this.. the last few weeks he has also been complaining that he can’t sleep in his bed, it’s not comfy and he has been ending up either sleeping in bed with me or sleeping on the livingroom couch.. Now this post has got me thinking maybe it is the messy room and his personality that is messing up his sleep and his sleeping in his own room. Guess tonight we will get it picked up and see if it helps.

  24. 24
    Kristen says

    I never looked at it this way… very interesting concept! I’m sure it is true. When our thoughts, spaces, homes are cluttered it runs into everything else in our lives.


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