DETROIT – Teaching your children about cleanliness during the COVID-19 pandemic goes beyond proper hand washing.
“There’s the cleanliness of our physical bodies, making sure that they don’t touch their faces or things like that when they go outside,” said Debi Weinstein. “Then there’s the cleanliness of our homes, which is so important for psychological and emotional well being. A clean house, an orderly house is is so important in terms of us just feeling comfortable in our lives.”
Weinstein is a mother who built her Metro Detroit business based on organizing people’s homes.
“I raised three daughters who are now in their 20s and 30s and I always felt that their room was their environment. That was their place,” Weinstein said. “Everybody should have a place in their home that feels like they have control over it.”
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She said children are visual learners and, while some may be messy, they thrive when their spaces are neat and tidy -- especially during uncertain times.
“I think it’s really important for children to have a very organized environment,” Weinstein said. “f you look at kids who grow up in chaotic environments, I think that really affects them emotionally and, as an adult, I think it really affects them a lot too.”
Weinstein said it starts by having your children -- no matter how old -- help you purge. Take a look at things together and see what you could donate or toss.
“What’s really important to you and then help the child learn how to make decisions about what’s important to keep and what’s important to let go,” Weinstein said. “That translates also to their physical possessions -- clothing, shoes, books -- what is important to you? What will you wear again? What have you outgrown? What can we donate and pass on to people who have less? You’re giving your child the ability to give a gift to others but also create order in their own world.”
She said parents should create a system for organizing their things that is unique to their personality.
“Each child is so different just like each of our children is different and I think you have to create order for your children based on their learning style,” Weinstein said.
It’s important to schedule time throughout your day set aside for cleaning and organizing, just like teachers do in a classroom.
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For teenagers, tweens and even older children who might be home from college, let them take control.
“There’s no reason why a kid after the kid uses the bathroom sink can’t take a damp cloth or like a Clorox wipe and clean up after themselves, clean up the toothpaste that they just spit into the sink instead of you or somebody else having to go in and take care of it themselves,” Weinstein said. “It’s all about responsibility and them being them. Understanding that they are responsible, young people, young adults, and then adults.”
Experts said it’s important to start it young -- if they’re old enough to take a toy out of the basket, then they can learn how to put it away.
Weinstein said children need structure to feel secure.
“Kids need rules. They need to know that adults are in charge, so that they feel safe. And without that safety, a child doesn’t feel like they have control of their world, and then they don’t necessarily grow up to be really secure adults,” Weinstein said.
She said it’s important to let your children choose what kind of clean-up jobs they want to do, that way they feel like they’re a part of the process and that it’s not a punishment.
You can find more information on Weinstein’s business, I’ve Gotta Get Organized, Inc., on its official website here.