Keeping your home organized is a constant battle. It is even harder when your kids create chaos faster than you can say “declutter.” So, how do you get your kids in on the organizational act? Here are some tips to help you teach your kids to be organized.
An Annual Purge
In order to keep your kids’ rooms from being overrun with clutter, do a thorough purge once a year. I find that the best time to do this is right after Christmas or your child’s birthday when they have lots of new items to make room for. You can get your kids involved in this process by explaining to them that you need to make room for their new toys by getting rid of some of the older ones. By purging during a time when your child has a lot of new things, they will be more motivated to let go of some of the older ones. If you make this an annual event, your children will get in the habit of purging.
This is also a good time to reassess your storage needs in your kids’ rooms. Discuss these needs with your children. If you will be getting some new storage items, let your kids pick out them out. They will be more likely to keep things organized if they feel that they were a part of the process from the beginning. You should also use this time to clean out their closets and get rid of clothing they have outgrown.
Let Them Make Some Decisions
When doing your purge, let your children decide what to keep and what to get rid of. You can guide them by explaining that you need to throw away anything that is broken and you should donate things that they have outgrown or no longer play with. You may need to limit them in the number of things they can keep. For instance, if your child is struggling to let go of her stuffed animals, tell her she can keep 10 of them. Then let her decide which ones to keep. This will give your kids ownership over their things and their space. This is key in getting them to buy into your organizational plan and stick to it.
This is a good time to teach your kids about the “one in, one out” rule. For each new toy they get, they must get rid of a toy. If kids can learn to implement this rule at a young age, it will benefit them for a lifetime.
Tell Them Where the Donations Are Going
Many kids hate the idea of getting rid of things. They become very attached to their belongings. For younger kids, it is hard to understand that giving things away isn’t the same as throwing them in the trash. To make it easier for them, talk to your kids about where their possessions will be going. If you are donating toys to a younger cousin or friend, tell them this. However, if you are giving them to an organization instead, talk to your children about the potential recipients. They will be more likely to be on board with the idea of giving away their old things if they know who will be getting them.
When my son outgrew his baby books, we donated them to the baby room at his preschool. He went with me to drop off the books. This gave him the chance to see the babies who would be using the books. He was much less upset about giving them away after he saw the babies.
Make It a Game
As Mary Poppins said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and snap, the job’s a game.” In order to get your kids excited about organizing, make it a fun game instead of a chore. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can race your child to see who can sort the blocks the fastest, or you can see who can put the most things in the donation box during your purge. Create a competition between your kids to see who can keep their rooms organized the longest. If your kids see organization as a game, they will be more likely to keep doing it until it becomes a habit.
Make It Easy
In addition to making your organizational system a game, you need to also make it easy for your kids to stick with it. A simple way to do this is to use bins, baskets or buckets to store your children’s toys. Use one bin for blocks, another for cars, and a third for action figures. Not only do bins and buckets make clean up easy, they are also portable. Your kids will be less likely to leave toys out if they can carry the bucket that stores those toys with them from room to room.
Provide Some Motivation
If your kids are anything like mine, it is easier to motivate them than to fight them. So, if you want them to stay organized, provide some motivation for them to do so. What exactly that motivation is will depend on your family. It could be a fun family activity, a new video game, or a trip. But let your kids earn a prize of some sort by staying organized. It is truly amazing how good kids can be at organizing if they have the right motivation!
Establish a Routine
Another key to teaching your kids to be organized is to establish a routine. This routine will help get them in the habit of using your organizational system. Once your routine becomes a habit, it will be automatic for your children. And this is the sign of a successful organizational system.
In our house, mornings run smoother if everything we need for the day is by the door. So, I’ve gotten my son in the habit of putting his backpack, coat, and anything else he needs for school by the door when he comes in at night. Now that we have had this routine for a while, it has become second nature to him. I no longer have to tell him to leave his stuff by the door. We don’t lose things and don’t have to scramble to find things in the mornings.
Organization is not something that kids do naturally. But, it is not impossible to teach your kids to be organized. You just need to involve them in the process, provide some motivation to stick to it, and establish a good routine. With a little work and creativity, you too can teach your kids to be organized. Good luck!