Tidying up can do more than 'spark joy.' It can help your kids be academic rockstars.

Let's face it, cleaning your house can be a pain, but the after effects come with way more benefits than you might realize.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

I know, I know, even the word "clean" probably just made you groan aloud. And it's not like you haven't meant to get your living room, bedroom, kids' rooms, and office sorted. In fact, you've probably watched the entire Marie Kondo series on Netflix and thought: "my family's definitely going to do that this year."


If you've been putting off tidying up though, here's something to think about: cleaning up your space won't just make you feel better, it sets up your kids for success in school.

Research shows that keeping a tidy house has a positive effect on kids' productivity and learning.

Photo by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash.

A 2001 study conducted at The University of Michigan followed kids from school-age to adulthood and found that kids whose homes were rated "clean," were far more likely to do well in school and earn more money in adulthood.

That's because "Keeping a clean and organized home reflects an overall ability and desire to maintain a sense of order in a wide range of life activities," Rachel Dunifon, the head author of the study, wrote.

More recently, research out of Princeton and UCLA has provided evidence that clutter in the home is a deterrent when it comes to living our best lives. Because our brains can only focus on so much information at once, the presence of mess in the home can pull focus, leading to both distraction and stress. And that goes double for kids, who are just learning to focus.

"The area of the brain responsible for organization, planning, and working memory [among other things], does not become fully consolidated until around age 25," explains Merriam Sarcia Saunders, a psychotherapist and expert in the treatment of ADHD.

"That means children don't have a ready access to the ability to organize. They must look to the adults in their life to scaffold that ability and teach those skills until the child can begin to generalize them into their daily routine."

If the adults don't step up to teach their children these valuable skills, children likely won't pick them on their own.

This is not to say that your house always has to be sparkling. Life happens, and often makes that impossible. But a home that's disorganized on the regular can lead to problems.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

Even the cleanest homes can get disorganized. Not making decluttering a priority, however, can create problems in the long run.

"A disorganized environment with clutter strewn about could be quite over-stimulating for a child," Saunders explains.

It can make it difficult for kids to concentrate, settle down, or even fall asleep at night. And if a child lives in a home that's disorganized enough that they can't find their things, they may feel lost and out-of-place on a larger scale.

"The constant inability to find necessary things like matching socks, clean clothes, that second shoe, a cherished toy or perhaps important documents like homework and permission slips, can increase stress hormones to a chronic level," adds Saunders. "At the least, it can ultimately cause a child to simply stop trying as they can never find what they need."

However, you can begin giving your kids the tools they need to succeed in life by making them an integral part of keeping the house comfortable and organized.

Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash.

Children, Saunders points out, learn by watching others and then doing themselves. So when parents involve their kids in the cleaning process they're learning what to strive for.

"A clutter-free environment allows for better focus, which can lead to increased creativity and productivity," she explains. "Organization and routines, especially for children, provide a sense of structure which is calming, and often leads to better habits for eating and sleeping."

Ready to get that house clean? Here are just a few tips that will help you help your kids have a surefire chance at a better academic life.

Image by StockSnap on Pixabay.

The first thing you might need to do is lower your expectations just a little, Saunders explains. While many parents tell their kids to "clean your room," it's important to understand that children are likely to have no idea what that actually means. And if they've never had a truly organized room before, it may be asking too much too quickly. Organization is a skill. And that means it's got to be practiced in order to become second nature.

Start by working with your kids to organize their toys in clear plastic bins, Saunders advises. Put clothes in baskets. If your kids can see where their things are supposed to go, they'll be more likely to put them away. If your children are young, consider labeling each bin and basket with pictures. And consider getting rid of things that your kids may not like or rarely use. Less toys doesn't mean less creativity!

"Once the room is clean, ask them to put away just one, tiny thing — a pair of socks, a belt, one toy — and praise them for a job well done," Saunders adds.

"The next day, organize the room again, and this time ask your child to put away two things. Add one thing each day, remembering to praise, until the task no longer feels overwhelming."

This will give children a sense of accomplishment and pride. And it's a nice way to teach them that they have control over some things, as well.

No matter how stressful life can get outside the house, coming home will make them feel calmer and less anxious. And that's a good thing when it comes to sitting down to do homework.

Image by nastya_gepp on Pixabay.

The calm of clean may even set your kids on a path to helping others. Jayera Griffin, a 14-year-old from Chicago, for example, has started a program called Free Laundry Day. With the help from her local laundromat and Clorox—as part of their What Comes Next Project—she's made it possible for people in her community to get their laundry washed for free every week.

No doubt her drive to give back in this way started in a clean home.

But no matter what your children's future looks like, it's sure to be brighter if they have a clean place to come home to every day.

Clorox believes clean has the power to transforms lives, which is why they've partnered with Upworthy to promote those same traits in people, actions and ideas. Cleaning up and transformation are important aspects of many of our social good stories. Check out the rest in the campaign to read more.

What Comes Next Project

Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

RELATED: This service dog and veteran are raising awareness for PTSD in inspiring ways

"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

Inclusivity

Graphic helps identify what triggers you emotionally in relationships

Knowing your triggers helps you manage your emotions.

via Blessing Manifesting / Instagram

Learning your emotional triggers on your own is one thing but figuring out your triggers in a relationship adds another layer of intensity. Maybe you're afraid of being abandoned or want to feel the need to push the other person away but you don't know why.

If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. It's why artist and mental health advocate Dominee Wyrick created a graphic to help you identify what triggers you in relationships.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

15 'habits' of people who grew up with an 'emotionally fragile' parent

Having an emotionally fragile parent can leave lasting damage.

via The Mighty

If you grew up with an "emotionally fragile" parent, chances are, you didn't have the typical, idyllic childhood you often see in movies.

Maybe your parent lived with debilitating depression that thrust you into the role of caregiver from a very young age.

Maybe your parent was always teetering on the edge of absolute rage, so you learned to tiptoe around them to avoid an explosion. Or maybe your parent went through a divorce or separation, and leaned on you for more emotional support than was appropriate to expect of a child.

Keep Reading Show less
Family