Organizing with Kids: More Trouble than It's Worth?
Have you ever asked your kids to help you clean and organize, and when you get started, it actually seems like more trouble than it’s worth? When they are finally old enough to do their own thing, you breathe a great sigh of relief. You have this big “ah-ha” moment: they can clean up after themselves! But when you get started, oh my goodness. . . maybe it would be more efficient to do it yourself, right?! Sometimes kids want to help, and sometimes they don’t. Getting them to pick up and organize after themselves can require so much effort, energy, and emotion. You can’t say, “I’m the mom, do it my way.” Or, you can. . . But that only goes so far for so long. “Pick all of this up,” “clean up this mess,” and “put it all away in an organized way,” you might say, but what if there’s nowhere to put it?
It is all about giving kids a place for everything. Think of kindergarten — there is a place for backpacks, a place for school supplies, a place for coats. “This goes here, this goes there,” and it works. Parents would be shocked if they walked into a classroom, and did not see some structure or system: mounds of blocks, crayons spilled all over the floor, art projects and supplies being stepped on. Teachers instead simplify organization. They create systems. And why shouldn’t we as parents mimic these systems they already have in schools?
Wouldn’t it make for an easier transition and create less of a contrast between school and home if we did what was done in many schools? It all seems so much simpler, without all the clutter and complexity, and all the overthinking so your kids can really function and focus. This is for any school age child. As the kids get older, they can organize in their own way, to fit their personality and needs, which in turns helps you. Here are some tips for kids to get and stay organized:
Provide a place for everything. If there’s no room or not a dedicated home for something, no wonder specific toys, papers or clothes, always remain on the surface (usually the floor). Clear a space. Find a drawer. Be specific. It becomes almost effortless when you don’t have to decide where something should go because “this goes here.”
Give kids some choice. It makes cleaning and organization more fun and makes for more of a buy into the system that is being created. Ask kids for help when buying storage containers. Ask kids how they would organize their school papers or what system they would use most often. The more you involve them in the process, the more likely it is to keep up.
Simplify your own systems! Your kids are always paying attention. Even if you don’t realize it. They make observations, which can inform their own behaviors, especially as they get older.
“With organization, comes empowerment,” both for kids and adults! I encourage you to look around your home today. What items appear to be floating? I challenge you to find a place for at least three of these items. If there’s not a place, you need to clear one, or discard the item. There should be a place for everything, both for you and your kids. And below, are some organizing products we love!!