Organizing your own personal belongings can be a daunting task in itself, however if you're also trying to take care of all your children's things, it can be an overwhelming, impossible task .
When children are old enough and capable, they have a responsibility to take care of their own belongings. This includes (but not limited to) toys, clothes, bathroom items, sports equipment, and of course school books and supplies. It should not be the parents' responsibility to clean their child's room, or pick up their wet towels off the bathroom floor. How is this teaching children to be responsible for their own belongings?
If we teach our children HOW to be organized, this will lead to a more productive and hopefully a more responsible child in school and at home. However take note, if you expect your children to be well organized, you must also do the same to provide a good example, or "model", for them. As the saying goes "practice what you preach."
For the time being, we will focus on ideas to help organize your children's plethora of gadgets, toys, clothes, games, and whatever else may be piled up on the closet floor or under the bed.
Color coordinate everything
The most important idea to incorporate in your family lifestyle is to color coordinate everything. Regardless of how many children you have, assign each one a specific color, i.e.: green, red, yellow, orange, etc..
The color you assign each of your children will go on every item that belongs to them. You will need to get a permanent marker in each of your kid's colors so you can mark/dot each and every item they own.
Here are some of the most common items you'll want to start out with. Use this list as a starting point to help harvest ideas that are relevant in your family's lifestyle.
- bathroom essentials
- kid-friendly dishware/cups/water bottles
- sports equipment
With their items, simply put a small colored dot/mark in an inconspicuous area. For example, socks -- dot the toe or heel; shirts -- dot the collar tag; puzzles -- dot the back of each piece; toothbrushes and towels -- purchase these in each of your children's assigned color.
Once everything is color coded, you can then quickly scan rooms and bathrooms and see which one of your little angels has left things out of place.
To quickly reinforce this new organization method, simply make the rule that if you find items haphazardly strewn about, you'll deduct 25 or 50 cents from their allowance. If that isn't relative, they can always earn additional work like washing a dish per item that is left out or "doggie clean-up duty." After a few times, your children will start picking up after themselves since they hate to lose money and play time, right? (Again, these are merely suggestions. Adapt and change these practices as you see fit.)
Organizing their closet space and room
Let's face it, children are learning by trial and error unless they have someone or something to model after. So naturally, they are going to make their choices and decisions on what they think is best.
If your child(ren) haven't had much success maintaining an organized closet, maybe it would be best to start from scratch. However, before you clear out their closet completely to start reorganizing, first observe what seems to be the problem area. Are their clothes scattered on the ground? Are toys out of place, thrown here and there? What seems to be the messiest?
Each child will have different needs that have to be addressed in order to have a clean, organized closet/room. Just like you wouldn't ask a guitarist to play the guitar with only two strings, you can't expect a child to put his/her things away unless he or she has an actual "place" or container to put the stuff in. Take the time to teach your children where their "stuff" goes. If they have trouble remembering, label the containers or areas as needed. You may need to buy some plastic bins/containers.
Once you have organized, color coded, and explained the new procedures/laws that will now be enforced, have a "weekly review" time where you can sit down with your child(ren) for five to 10 minutes. This would be the time when you go over what you liked throughout the week, and areas they may still need to work a little bit on.
Keep in mind that children will need to be reminded about the procedures you expect them to follow, so don't get frustrated if they do not do a perfect job the first week or two. This is a process that may take some time to internalize, but once it's learned, your life, and your children's lives, will be much more fluid and organized.