Three Ways to Involve the Kids to get Organized

As families grow, the days seem drastically shorter. There are never enough hours for self-care, quality time with family, or that extra time that could always be used at work and home. Don’t settle for the chaos that can accompany life with kids. These three tips will allow you to have a few minutes of peace, before you become an empty nester.

State your expectations. As parents, we think it’s obvious to all family members what we expect and what the household standards are. Not so. Whether your kids are toddlers or teenagers, they need you to spell out the rules of the game. Toddlers learn the Tidy Up song in pre-school. If they are held accountable for putting things away when outside of the home, they can be held accountable at home. Try the five-minute warning, “We’re going to have dinner in a few minutes. Let’s tidy up before we eat”, then spend a few minutes helping return things to their respective containers.

Likewise, have a talk with your tween or teen to let them know what you expect, for example make your bed daily, empty the dishwasher on Saturday mornings, put your clean laundry away. And be sure to tie a reward or consequence to these tasks.

Teach your kids. Prioritizing and organizing are skills we learn. Teach your kids about limits. If there is only an influx of things but no exit plan, your home will quickly become crowded and you’ll find yourself watching TV around a stack of magazines or a mountain of postponed decisions. When the toy baskets are overflowing, it’s time to have a talk about what is still age-appropriate,
what is a favourite, and what might be passed along to make someone else happy.

Earmark some time, about 2 to 4 weeks before birthdays and Christmas, to talk with each of your children about what to let go of. Explain that they will receive a lot of presents and need to make space for all the new stuff to come.

Also, let your child decide the best way to let go of their once-loved possessions. Will it be off to a thrift store, neighbour, children’s charity, or listed on kijiji for some extra cash?

Involving your kids in these decisions eliminates their fear of letting go and reduces the likelihood of the kids feeling blindsided by the disappearance of their prized possessions.

Keep it simple. We are all more likely to follow the rules of organization if they are easy. Use open baskets for dirty laundry and toy storage. Avoid stacking bins; the extra steps of fitting on lids and stacking and unstacking bins, will be the difference between things being put away, or strewn about the room. Use hooks for hanging coats, clothes and towels. Consider introducing drawer dividers in dresser drawers; having a section for each type of clothing is the first step to maintaining some order in those drawers.

We shouldn’t expect things to change overnight, but by consistently stating expectations and leading by example, these organizing habits will take root.