Kids can be the biggest mess-makers, so don't mess around when it comes to teaching them good organizing habits! The sooner you can empower your kids with these concepts, the better. Preparing our kids to be independent adults will be much easier if they've been taught these skills and habits, and it can make your life easier now, too!
Put Limits on KeepsakesPut Limits on Keepsakes
Some children let go of things more easily than others, but for those who are stubborn about wanting to save every little thing, give them what we call a "limiting container." They can keep all of the keepsakes they want, as long as they fit in this box, or on this shelf.
Related: 10 Biggest Organizing Mistakes
Have Morning and Evening Routines
You may know your everyday habits, but be more deliberate about verbalizing the steps of your morning and evening routines with the kids. You can even post a checklist on a bathroom mirror or bedroom wall for things like packing your lunch, gathering your papers, getting dressed, and everything that is involved in their morning rituals. Bedtime habits are important to emphasize because they also pave a smoother path to sleep (and peace and quiet for you)!
Little HelpersLittle Helpers
Let kids feel empowered by having them help you plan your errands before leaving the house. Tell them it's like a puzzle or a race, and you want to drive the least amount of miles in the least amount of time while balancing logistics like making sure frozen food doesn't melt and no pets need to be left in the car. Let your plot the best route by plugging your errands into route4me.com. Make it interesting with a stop for frozen yogurt as a reward.
Related: 25 Ways to Clear Out Clutter
Easy as A-B-C-D
The A-B-C-D prioritization tool works for everything and helps kids and grownups:
An "A" toy is a favorite one that you love and play with all the time, as often as we eat or brush our teeth.
"B" toys are ones you play with a lot, as often as we go to the supermarket.
"C" toys are those you don't play with very much, as often as we have a birthday or holiday.
"D" toys are ones you really are not playing with at all. And D also stands for donate.
We want to store our A and B toys where we can reach them and put them away easily, and our C toys up higher in a box or on a shelf.
The One-in-One-Out RuleTeach Kids the One-In-One-Out Rule
When you get a new toy, an old toy can be donated. When you get new jeans, your old jeans can be given to another child. Our children need to understand that storage is a finite thing, and that continuing to collect eventually leads to clutter and chaos. They should also understand that donating our excess helps people and the planet. Kids can use the calculator at donate.goodwill.org to find out what their donations actually do for people in their communities, and they can play the fun donation match game at donate.goodwill.org/kids to understand which household items can be recycled and which should be donated. Birthdays and holidays are especially good times to teach the concept of "out with the old, in with the new."
Related: Secrets of Decluttering Gurus
Everything Has a Home
Just like we have a home, our stuff needs to have a home, too. Labeling containers can help kids understand where their things belong, and smaller kids can benefit from having picture labels along with words. When kids ask you to find something, point out to them that you know where it is because it has a home and sure enough, you found it there. That's why we have to put things back after using them, so we can find them again!
Categorize Like Cookie MonsterCategorize Like Cookie Monster
When I was growing up, I learned the Sesame Street song, "One of These Things is Not Like the Other." Four objects were presented: Three had a common theme, and the other item did not belong. For example, three were fruit, like an apple, banana, and orange, and the other object was a pencil. By the time I finished the song, I had chosen which one didn't belong. Look for opportunities, like this one, to teach categorizing to kids, as it is a crucial skill in sorting and organizing.
Related: What's Your Organizing Style?
Raise Smart Shoppers
We started early in our home teaching kids to listen to commercials and read signs with a critical eye. How is this commercial trying to trick you into wanting what they are selling? Do you really NEED to collect all four or have one in every color? Just because something is on sale, does that mean it really saves you money if you didn't need to buy the item anyway? Preventing clutter is half the battle, and kids who can be discerning consumers will be smarter with their space and their money.
Kids Can Use ListsKids Can Use Lists
You can make packing lists for kids when you are going on a trip, or have them help you make shopping and to-do lists. Kids love to cross things off and you're teaching them how to organize their thoughts. Lists can also be helpful for reducing your need to nag when there are several tasks that need to be done. Of course, the best lists of all are birthday and holiday wish lists!
- by Lori Marrero
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