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.
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, instead of you making decisions for them, see how they’d like their toys arranged or their clothes sorted. Maybe they want their clothes organized by color instead of type, when you thought doing the reverse would work well. 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.
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 towards adults. Don’t create a system with many complicated categories and hard-to-use organizing gizmos. Keep 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.
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. When I asked how easy it was for the kids to access the toys in the bottom bin, the parents usually say “not very.” 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.
Label everything. For kids (as well as for adults), a label on something makes it “official.” Once a drawer has a label says “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.
Use color. Finally, 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. 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!