As a parent, it is our job to teach our children healthy habits for a successful adult living. We often focus on food and exercise but what about organization? The following organizing strategies for helping your child find order are important. These 4 habits are skills they can take with them thru their whole life.
Strategy 1: Set Limits We all have limits with our stuff. Once our spaces are full, we can’t take over our neighbor’s home with our stuff. This concept also applies to our kids. If we don’t keep them in check, their stuff can take over every room in the house. Setting limits can teach them how to be good housemates which is a life skill they will most likely need as adults. Typically I recommend two areas for kids toys, a main area and their bedroom. This of course will vary per household but this kind of limit, or something similar, will keep the toys in check. This works for Mom and Dad too. Having a limit of one bin per child for keepsakes will help you be picky about what you keep. If your child likes to keep stuff, have one drawer or one basket in their room for “junk” that they just can’t part with. Once it’s full, they will either need to clean it out or not bring in more “junk”. This concept can even work for toy collections. Give them a space, but not unlimited space.
Strategy 2: Stick to a Routine Kids love predictability. Routines are especially helpful in the morning, when they need to get out the door and the evening when homework and bedtime need to happen. A good routine gives your child time to get tasks done with out undue stress. So all routines need to start early. If it takes your child 5 minutes to eat their cereal, then plan on a minimum of 5 minutes. If you only give them 3 then you’ll have a constant battle. To keep kids moving along, give them time for a task, but when they need to wrap it up, set a timer. For example, they have 5 minutes to eat their cereal. Let them eat leisurely for 4 minutes then set a timer for 1 minute and let them know they need to finish up before the timer beeps. This will help keep them on task and keep them moving along. This also puts the “hurry up battle” between the timer and child instead of the parent and child.
Strategy 3: Use Lists Are you constantly reminding kids what needs to happen each morning…brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash your face, etc. Creating a checklist and posting in the bathroom can help. For little kids, this can be a photo checklist. You will most likely still need to follow up but it will make it a bit easier. All you will need to do is ask if they did everything on their list then smell their breath. Lists can also work for other everyday routines. A sport’s checklist posted near their sports gear for items they need to remember. A homework checklist for items they need to do each day after school. A chore checklist of items they need to do to help around the house. You decide what your child needs help remembering and help them by creating a checklist.
Strategy 4: Get Kids Involved Cooking, cleaning, shopping are all opportunities to get your kids involved with maintaining the family and learn life lessons. Do your kids know how to clean a mirror? Can they plan a healthy meal? Can they peal a carrot? Can they shop for food and know how to pick out a good cucumber? As parents, we all know it almost always easier to do these items ourselves then fight the battle and take the time to teach. But, the pain is only temporary. The more we teach at a young age and set the expectations, the more successful our children will be as adults.
Amy Tokos, CPO® is the owner of Freshly Organized which was founded in 2008. Her tips have been seen on Omaha local TV and many magazines including Momaha, HGTV Home, Rachel Ray and Good Housekeeping.