Updated: Jan 10, 2020
Most parents have spent endless time reminding kids about picking up everything from dirty socks to lego pieces in a desperate attempt to get them to be more organized. While fretting over our kids' disorganization and chaos might seem logical and justified, it won't solve the clutter problem. Teach your kids how to be organized by walking the walk, not simply talking the talk!
Here are 7 tips to help you teach your kids (and yourself) how to be more organized:
1. KEEP A CALENDAR
Teach your kids how to make and read a calendar. By keeping a family calendar you will not only stay on track with your day-to-day activities, but you can also teach your kids about the tangibility of time. Time is something most kids have little concept of, but by getting used to seeing it as slots on a calendar they will start to understand that it is finite and ever-moving. Also, getting your older kids in the habit of keeping their own time and activities organized on a calendar will serve them well thru both school and work life.
2. DEVELOP ROUTINES AND GOOD HABITS
We are all creatures of habit and we can be taught how to and when to act a certain way. If we don't pay attention and mindfully develop good habits we will most likely develop some not-so-good ones instead. Get your kids in the habit of things like putting their dirty clothes in their hamper, putting their shoes on the shoe rack and clearing the table after a meal. If you stay persistent then, slowly but surely, these things will become second nature and positive habits are formed.
3. COMPLETE TASKS
There is a lot of advice out there on how to be better at multitasking and getting more done in less time. Though these things will come in handy in certain situations, the ability to complete a task you start is even more important. It can be as simple as putting the milk carton back in the fridge after pouring yourself a glass or hanging your towel on the towel bar after a shower. Clutter is often a matter of delayed decisions, so no matter the task, if you complete it then you will, in turn, reduce the potential for clutter.
4. HAVE FAMILY CLEAN-UP TIME
Designating a time, such as Saturday morning, for family clean-up is a great way to get everyone involved in keeping up the house. Not only will the kids see the effect clutter has on their house. they will also learn how to properly clean it up. Though shoving all your belongings into a drawer or cabinet might be tempting, it does not take care of the problem. When a family works side-by-side the kids learn how to properly do things, as well as see that everyone is equally responsible for cleaning up.
5. TEACH YOUR KIDS TO FOLD
Folding clothes, towels and sheets is a skill every adult should know. And in my opinion, it is a skill every kid should know as well. Of course, you cannot expect your 3-year-old to fold a fitted king-size sheet, but by seeing you do it, they will come to understand that it is a normal part of life. We wash our clothes, we fold our clothes, we put them away. If you, as an adult, don't feel like you have a grasp on this skill then invest the time in learning it. It might be both mundane and boring, but it will serve you well in the long run.
6. DONATE WHAT YOU NO LONGER NEED
This applies to all areas of your house but maybe most noticeably your kids' closets. Kids grow like weeds and their clothes often seem to fit for half a season before they outgrow them. Get your kids in the habit of having a donate basket or bin on a shelf in their closet. This is where all those pieces of clothing that are too short or too tight will go. Having a donate basket is meant to prevent the clothes from re-entering the endless laundry lifecycle where they get tossed onto the floor because they don't fit, then added to the laundry pile, get washed and put back in circulation in the closet. Over and over and over again.
7. KEEP EVERYONE ACCOUNTABLE
Sit down and develop a list of tasks that need to happen around your house. Once the list is complete, assign each task to someone in the family. The list ultimately maps out every person's household contributions. The 2-year old can for example help wipe off the table, the 8-year old can take out the trash, mom can do laundry and dad mow the lawn. The list of tasks needs to be completed each week, and everyone has to participate. Keeping each other accountable will make it evident that everyone is playing an important part. When the kids see that mom and dad also have to play their parts, they are more likely to play theirs.
“The best way to teach a child is to live an exemplary life.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita