Organizing With Children Can Be Fun (and Challenging)!
Organizing is a life skill that can start early in life. Children are little sponges, and soak up all you are willing to offer them, even the idea of organization. So, when you’re cleaning and organizing your children’s belongings get them involved because they may come up with some brilliant ideas you didn’t even consider.
It can be tempting to do things for our little ones instead of allowing them to fend for themselves. We do it out of love, but allowing children to learn organization skills for themselves is a huge gift to them (and to you). Children love learning new life skills and becoming more independent.
Even though we send them off to school to learn, parents are their first teachers, and home is their first learning environment. Teaching children early on how to take care of their home and be responsible for their belongings sets them up for success later in life.
Here are a few tips for organizing with children
- Expectations should be clear and attainable. This is the former teacher coming out in me, but always set them up for success by letting them know what is expected of them. It’s not fair to them if you always complain about toys scattered on the floor, but never show them how to put them away. Also, don’t set the bar too high. Assigning tasks that are too difficult will only create frustration for both of you. Click here to get a list of age-appropriate decluttering tasks. Praising kids for completing age-appropriate tasks gives them confidence and motivation to do it again.
- Practice makes perfect. Be patient. It’s a learning process (for both of you) and won’t happen overnight. In the beginning, show your children how to pick up after themselves. Model it. Do it with them (many times). Eventually, they will be able to do it on their own, but you still may need to remind them. That’s parenting, right? Make a game of it to motivate them. Have some fun. Who knows, they may surprise you and do it without being told.
- Label toy boxes and containers. Even if you have labels, you will still need to physically show your children exactly where each toy, piece of clothing, sports equipments and craft time belongs. Don’t assume they will put things away “in the right place” simply because you labeled bins and boxes for them. Children who are nonreaders can still “read” labels with words and pictures. After they get into the habit, the labels will remind them where everything belongs. It becomes a habit. Added bonus of labeling: reinforces reading skills!
- Sorting. The organizing process involves a lot of sorting. Make sure you children get involved in this part of the process. They can sort their belongings into categories and come up with rules/ideas on how things should be sorted…bonus early-math skills being practiced here. Organizing is good for the brain!
Be patient and consistent
Praise children for their efforts. It isn’t always easy to keep kid’s clutter under control, but it does make it more bearable when you start to see how they become more responsible and capable of taking care of their own belongings. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to allow them to do their best. Let them surprise you!