Tidiness is an incredibly complex skill. Unless it is learned, refined and ingrained at an early age, it is a very difficult habit to acquire later in life (believe me!). As a messy person, I’ve tried to see what others do.
Recently at Burnham military camp, I watched an NCO lick raw recruits into shape. The training included getting them to get their rooms as clean as an operating theatre and make their bed so neatly the blankets were as tight as a drum skin. Her (and yes it was a woman sergeant major) methods were simple – work on one skill at a time, show them how to do it, and keep repeating it and monitoring it until they do it perfectly. Her technique also involved a lot of threats, yelling and, “Drop and give me 30 press-ups, soldier!” But this might only be necessary if you are training your children to get ready to go into battle.
I asked a tidy looking grandmother next to me on the plane yesterday what she did to instil tidiness in her tidy looking daughter sitting next to her. Her tips –“De-clutter their world. If they don’t use it, or if they don’t love it, sell it on Trade Me. Turn clean-ups into treasure hunts – emphasise the delight in finding old toys and books they can enjoy again (or sell!). Also, make tidiness a condition on outings – ‘We’ll play in the park when your room is clean.’ And get a dog. They eat anything that falls on the floor.” A wise grandma.