Organizing Strategies for Kids
It is important to involve your kids in organizing strategies that involve their spaces.
When kids are involved in their “clean your room” projects they will better understand organizing logic and maintain their clean and organized spaces.
The age and stage of development of your child will influence their ability to understand these concepts and help with the organizing projects you want to tackle. You know your child best so tailor this advice to what suits your family and your child’s individual needs and preferences.
Pre-school and early school-age children are more than capable of starting to work with you on basic organizing principles.
When you get your child involved in getting and staying organized early on, you teach them valuable life-long skills that will set them up for success into adulthood.
Help your child focus on what areas, spaces or systems need improvement by asking them:
- What’s working for you?
- What frustrates you?
- What do you want to improve or change?
Once you identify the areas and changes that you and your child want to make, help them get to the root cause of the problem to come up with the best organizing solutions.
Keep in mind that your priorities may differ from your children so try to create win/win solutions.
Talk to your child about why getting organized is important. Focus their attention on the positives like what they are keeping as opposed to what they are letting go of.
Remind them that what they giveaway will go to a less fortunate child.
You may even want to consider having a garage sale and they get to keep the money from selling their stuff!
Create a simple action plan together. Plan time to work on these projects together in blocks of time dependant on their individual attention span.
It may take longer to work with your child and complete everything rather than doing it while they are out of the house or sleeping, but it will pay off big time in the long run.
Hooks are a child’s best friend. Use hooks for hats and coats at the backdoor, for clothes or PJ’s in their room and closet, for towels and their bathrobe in the bathroom, and so on.
Take the doors off their closet. For a small child, opening a closet door can be a challenge and it poses a barrier. If you want them to help put away their own clothes and get dressed with little to no help, having fewer barriers helps.
Lower the clothing rod. Again if your child has a hard time reaching their clothes, they are less likely to put their clothes away and to pick out an outfit to wear without your help.
Keep a basket in their closet for clothes that no longer fit and when it fills up, send it off to donation.
Put a few outfits together that they love. Not only will this help with saving time getting ready in the morning, but it reduces arguments as they have already chosen a few of their favourite outfits in advance.
Bins & Containers
Use clear bins with no lids. Kids need to be able to see exactly what goes where and what they have.
A lid is also another barrier that will ensure when it’s time to clean up, the toys don’t go back where they belong.
Easy access for your child is the whole point. Make it easy for them to put things away.
Picture labels (age dependant) are best. Get creative with pictures and colors to help your child know exactly where things go.
Organize from the bottom up - frequently used items should be kept on lower shelves or drawers.
Rolling carts are a great way of storing craft supplies.
Over the door closet organizers work wonders for shoes and toys.
Consider your child’s interests, abilities, and needs. Is it drawing, reading, music, puzzles, fort making, homework, etc.?
Talk with them about how all of their stuff should have a home. This will keep things tidy as they know where everything goes and makes clean up time a breeze.
When zones are established, this is a visual cue for your child and each zone is the ideal place to store items that will be used in that area.
The zones become the natural home for things to be found and where it goes when it’s time to put it away.
Zones also help to reduce distractions so your child can focus on one activity at a time and everything they need is right there.
Keep toys in certain areas of the house like your child’s room, a designated playroom, the backyard, or the family room.
Create “toy free zones” like the kitchen, dining room and your bedroom to contain the toy clutter from taking over the entire house.
Quality Over Quantity
Children do better with less - they are far more creative and less overwhelmed when they have fewer choices.
Ask extended family members to respect limits on excessive gift-giving.
Consider buying experiences instead of stuff such as zoo or science centre passes, movie or kids theatre tickets, or a “date” to their favourite restaurant.
These memories and time together as a family are far more precious than the cheap, plastic toys they hardly play with.
When it’s your child's birthday or Christmas time, tuck away at least half (or more!) of the gifts they receive and bring them out one by one over the year.
Declutter toys and clothes that they have grown out of at least once or twice every year. I suggest you get in the habit of doing this with the change of seasons.
This will help them develop the skill and habit of letting go and they won’t end up with an overwhelming amount of toys and ill-fitting clothes.
Time management is a powerful mental talent that your child can learn to know what’s important and when to do it.
Teaching your child to use their time effectively is a key foundational skill that will boost their success in school and in life.
When they finish their homework as soon as they get home from school or do their chores every Saturday morning before going outside or watching TV, they are learning precious time management skills.
Help your child to categorize their priorities into 3 groups. #1 priorities are essential and should be done first. #2 priorities are not critical and can be done when there is time. #3 priorities are optional.
Use a calendar to block all activities and reminders, homework time, chores, etc.
Decide how much time each task will take and when they will have the energy needed to get it done.
For instance, a big school project probably shouldn’t be done the Sunday night before it’s due and chores should be done before soccer practice not after.
Building-in flexibility, downtime and family time into your routines is essential.
Over-scheduling leaves no time to chill and have fun which can lead to exhausted and cranky kids.
When unforeseen obstacles aren’t allowed for in your kids schedule this can derail important plans and must do's.
Time to rest and spending time together is vital for each family member and will strengthen your family bonds.
Family Command Centre
Check out this post for more information on how to set up a Family Command Centre.
Safety for children is paramount.
Injuries can happen when you’re not paying attention, if your child is eager to help but they haven’t learned the skill, they don’t have the dexterity yet, your child is somewhere unfamiliar or if they are tired or hungry.
Always make sure there is nothing within reach that could harm them such as harmful cleaning chemicals, furniture that could topple, small items they can choke on, or sharp objects.
Keep cords out of reach, never place cribs, beds, playpens, or other furniture near a window where a cord is easily accessible, properly affix all furniture or larger items on shelves to prevent them from falling on the child.
For more information on safety around the house click on this link:
Evaluate the Outcome
Any organizing plan once implemented needs to be reviewed to make sure it is effective.
Keep in mind that your child’s organizing needs will evolve over time as they grow and change.
Regularly monitor and maintain your child’s organizing efforts and systems to keep things working for them.
If you have challenges getting your family organized, here is our blog "5 Secrets to Organize Clutter When Your Family Doesn’t Agree".
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