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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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