Do you struggle with reminding your kids daily to pick up their toys, backpack and jacket as you are routinely tripping over all of these items? It’s frustrating! It can also add a lot of stress to a family. Starting from a young age it is possible to teach kids how to be organized and clean up after themselves. Here are 5 ways you can teach your kids how to be organized.
Model the Behavior
One of the best ways to teach our kids how to do something is by doing it ourselves. When your kids watch you put items back where they belong after you have finished using them, they begin to understand that this is how they should put their things away too. By working on our own organizing habits, we are able to be good role models for the rest of our family.
Here are a few habits to start with:
Put your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of dropping them on the floor.
Make your bed each morning.
Put dishes in the dishwasher right away instead of letting them pile up on the counter.
Keep your bedroom tidy.
Be diligent to return an item to its home when you are finished with it.
Set Your Expectations
When we tell kids to clean their room, they may not know what that means. Take the time to be clear with your expectations and show them how you would like their room to look when the job is complete. This will start with you cleaning along side them, teaching them how their bed should be made, where they should put their toys and books, and what to do with the dirty clothes. When their room is clean, take a picture so they can look at it when they clean their room the next time. You can also make a simple checklist of the tasks involved in cleaning up their room or a picture list for kids that can’t read yet.
Create a Home for Their Things
One of the biggest organizing stumbling blocks for kids and adults is not knowing where something belongs. Objects easily become clutter when they don’t have a place to call home. My favorite way to set up organization systems for kids is to use small to medium sized bins. It’s usually easier for kids if the bin is clear and doesn’t have a cover. Group like toys in each bin and label the bin with words or a picture (ie: Legos). Have the bins located on a shelf that the kids can reach. Here are two systems that can be really useful for organizing kid’s toys. If you go with a cube style storage shelf and use the cloth cube bins, add a label to each bin to help make the organizing process easier for your kids. Without a label kids won’t easily be able to tell what goes inside.
Install Storage that Kids Can Reach
Organizing systems installed out of the reach of our kids are useless to them. They can’t put their clothes away if they can’t reach the rod (which is true in most traditional closets). I like to create simple organizing systems where the storage solutions are at a lower height for kids. If your kids always dump their backpack and coat on the floor when they come into the house, create an area with decorative hooks close to the door so they will hang these items up. Hooks are an amazing solution for kids (and adults). For kid’s closets, a double closet rod can put kids clothes at their height and is a very economical solution.
Establish a Daily Routine
The only way to build a habit is to practice it A LOT. This is where we as parents have to do some real work. Creating and sticking to a daily routine of cleaning up and putting things away is really important. Make it a household rule that before a new toy comes out to play, the previous toy needs to be put away. Make clean up fun and play music when it is clean up time. Give kids time to put their toys away before they need to begin the next activity, so they are not rushed and stressed.
Routines are also important to make the morning and bedtime run smoothly. Have kids lay out their clothes for the next day. Make sure their backpack is ready for school and lunch is made the night before. Utilize checklists so kids know what they need to do next in their routine. Make the lists fun and colorful - sticker charts can work well to keep kids engaged.
By teaching our kids organizing skills now, we are setting them up for future success. No one is perfect and you are bound to get push back at times, but the goal is to create habits where our kids don’t have to think about the task at hand, they just do it similar to fastening a seat belt or brushing their teeth.