Kids and chaos seem to simply go together like peanut butter and jelly. Having raised two children of my own gives me firsthand experience of the frustration that can get in the way of fun, when toys, clothes and collections take over the house. Many of the organizing techniques I use with my clients have been tested for effectiveness in my own household!
Underlying all of my tips is the proven principle that kids will eventually learn to put away their things if you provide an obvious place for the belongings and are consistent in teaching them how. Organization can go beyond giving the relief of having a neat playroom; it can encourage the kids to be more independent in finding their toys, clothing and picking up after themselves. They feel like big kids, and that is a huge help to parents. A little strategizing can go along way toward a smoother, functioning household and leave more time for fun!
Make it fun. Sorting, matching and lining up collections are activities that kids do on their own. They also are important tasks in organizing their rooms. To make cleanup time feel more like playtime:
- Use clear or brightly colored plastic boxes to store toys on shelves. Label boxes with words, pictures or actual object to help your kids easily identify what goes where.
- Use small plastic or wicker baskets to store similar toys together. Kids love being able to tote, empty and fill the baskets.
- Install cork or magnetic board to mount their most recent art creations.
Make it accessible. Whatever structure or system you implement, make sure your kids can easily use.
- Place shelving low enough for kids to reach. However, consider some higher shelving for storing toys with many small pieces. Having these toys out of reach will encourage partial clean up before taking out more.
- Use pull out storage containers on wheels, or other large flat containers from under beds for storing toys, books, clothes or bedding.
- Set closet poles low enough for your kids to reach or supply a step stool.
Underwhelm. The less you have, the easier it is to maintain. Consider these techniques for having less visible clutter:
- Cycle toys as you do clothing. Store half the toys away in boxes. In a few months, bring them out and store others away. This will make toy selection and management easier.
- Place out of season clothes in separate storage boxes.
- Use boxes for storing mementos and artwork. Review box contents at end of school year to edit items and keep only the most meaningful ones.
Be consistent. To help your kids develop good organizational habits, you’ll want to be consistent.
- Set aside the same time of day to help them get back to square one.
- Work with them to help maintain focus on organizing and putting things away. If they like music, experiment with some upbeat music to keep you motivated and energized as you work.
- Encourage and never nag or berate them. Organizing doesn’t come easily to everyone. Be patient. Make organizing a positive experience.
Be a role model. We can’t expect our kids to do what we ourselves are not doing. So, if you want your kids to stay organized and you are not modeling this yourself, start with getting your areas in order first. Once you are organized enough, then begin to help your kids to do the same.
Many thanks to my guest blogger, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD. Check out Linda's website and her new book, The Other Side of Organized. If you would like to WIN a FREE copy of The Other Side of Organized, leave a comment below (on my blog, not on FB or Twitter). I will choose a random winner (and someone who has not won something from me recently) on THURSDAY at noon (EST). Linda will mail her book to the winner directly, either to the US or to Canada.