Keep children engaged by making cleaning up simple, colorful, and fun!
Are you tired of asking your children to pick up and put away their things? If “clean up your room!” is a popular refrain in your household, there are some simple things that you can do to help your kids get on the organizing bandwagon.
1. Give them control. Kids love to solve puzzles and are often full of ideas. When working with your kids to organize their room or playspace, give them options to choose from instead of one set of directions. By choosing from options you give them—sorting their clothes by color instead of type, for instance—they’ll feel like the decisions are theirs. Work with your kids to find out where they think things should go, and use those ideas to find appropriate homes for all of their stuff. Your kids will feel a lot more invested in a system that they can help design, rather than one that is imposed on them.
2. Keep it simple. A common pitfall of people who organize for their children rather than with them is that they create complicated systems that are oriented toward adults. Keep organizing categories straightforward and age-appropriate, and make sure that any containers or specialized organizing tools, such as craft boxes, re-closable plastic bags, etc., can be safely and easily used by your child.
3. Make storage accessible. Chances are, your kids can’t reach as high as you can, and can’t lift as much as you either. I’ve gone into a number of homes where well-meaning parents had storage bins full of toys that had been stacked nearly floor-to-ceiling—making the top bin, bottom bin, and everything in between impossible for their kids to access themselves. If your kids can’t easily access their storage system, they won’t use it. Instead of stackable bins, use storage drawers. Make sure that everything is at a height that’s accessible for your kids, and that they are able to pick up and move things without straining.
4. Label everything. For kids (as well as for adults), a label on something makes it “official.” Once a drawer is labeled “socks” and a storage container is labeled “dolls,” those become the official homes for those items. As long as everything has a clearly labeled home, the chances of items finding their way back to their homes become much greater.
5. Use color. Kids love color—so use it in their organizing systems! Color-code storage areas, drawers, and other containers as another way of “labeling” functions of the storage system. Games go in blue bins, toy instruments in red bins, toys in green bins, and so on. Organizing containers don’t have to be white, black, or clear—so use color where appropriate with the systems you and your kids develop.
Spending time with your kids developing organizing ideas and solutions can be a fun and rewarding family activity. Soon, you may find that your kids’ rooms practically clean themselves!