Every morning, after my children wake up, they have a list of tasks they have to complete before they go to school. None of them are hard, but they're all important to set them up for their day.
If they complete their task list early, they can have some free time on their devices or whatever they want to do.?If they don't complete them early ¨C well, that's never happened because like most children these days, my children are motivated by technology.
The list includes basic self care like brushing their teeth, making their beds, packing their lunch, and getting dressed, but it also includes a small task that I think is just as important: a five minute room tidy.
Psychology professor Nancy Darling agrees about the importance of tidying, writing for Psychology Today that daily tidying can help children sleep better, be happier, and build positive lifelong habits.?
"Clutter tends to increase stress, make it harder to focus because it introduces visual distraction, and make it harder to find what we want," she says.?
"Many of us, me included, also find clutter vaguely embarrassing. I know my house should always be clean. It's a nagging something I feel I should have done, but haven't gotten to. Another small failure."
But getting kids to stay on top of their clutter, and teaching them to straighten up a little bit each day has several advantages, says Darling.
"It becomes part of their daily routine, a good habit to get into for life," she says. "They will also become used to calmer, more pleasant spaces, and start to initiate it themselves.
"This is a skill they will use forever. Housekeeping is rarely taught nowadays, but it requires many complex tasks to do well. It's something everyone should know how to do."
Child psychologist Dierdre Brandner agrees that the habit of tidying is a good one for children.?
"There is a famous 75-year-old Harvard study that identified the one factor all high achievers share: they had to tidy their room has a child," she says. "We know that strong organisation habits translate into better outcomes in learning. In addition tidy spaces can reduce instances of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated."
If you're keen to get your kids cleaning, but if it's a bit of a new concept, she says the best approach is to start small.
"Routines and streamlined processes are advantageous for all of brains, no matter what age," she says. "However, children might be reluctant to accept this new concept because it involves 'more work.'
"Introducing a new concept one step at a time will make it more tolerable. For example, starting with beds made in the morning, or dirty clothes in the basket. Ensure we set the child up for success, have the basket there, or help them smooth out the sheets. Make the task easily achievable and match the new routine to something positive, like a favourite cereal option or special snack in the lunchbox. Once this routine is set you can introduce, how many of our tidy tasks can we get done in 5 mins."
My highly competitive children are going to love that approach, and I can guarantee my 11-year-old son will be 'winning' on a daily basis.
So it turns out that a five-minute tidy is about so much more than a quick rubbish pick up."Helping children learn to develop these habits goes a long way to developing values and attitudes," says Brandner. "Research has suggested that having a clean setting is associated with wanting to do the right thing, for example, not litter, be more generous."
All in five minutes a day. What's not to love about that?
For a daily dose of 9Honey, subscribe to our newsletter here.