With summer here and kids out of school, it’s a great time to get the kids' rooms organized. This is an opportunity to teach your kids a necessary life skill of organizing! The extra time this summer will allow for new habits to be developed and in place before life gets crazy again in the fall. I’ll divide this blog topic into two parts. This week, the focus will be organizing strategies for younger kids. Next week, I will discuss keeping teens and pre-teens organized.
-Rotate toys rather than have them all out.
-Use containers that are easy for the kids to use, clear and easy-off lids.
-Little toys fall to the bottom of a large bins or toy boxes so put little items in small containers or in over-the-door shoe organizers with clear pockets.
-Label containers, drawers and shelves using words and pictures of the items that belong there so even pre-readers will be able to put away belongings.
-Place in season clothing within the child’s reach. Store out of season clothing on higher closet rods or shelves.
-Use boxes or small bins for underwear/socks whether you keep these in the dresser or on a shelf in the closet.
-Hang outfits together on the same hanger or sort by pants, shirts, dress clothes, etc.
-Laminate a checklist with responsibilities, eg-make bed, brush teeth, put dirty clothes in hamper, hang up towel. Create separate lists for morning, bedtime and “Clean your room”.
-Keepsake box-Each child needs a box to store their keepsakes. When the box begins to get full, it’s time to weed out to make room for more. Scan artwork and make into photo books. An under- the- bed storage box is great for this.
-Maintenance - Have kids pick up their toys and clothing each night before bed. Each weekend, have your kids do a more thorough clean-up. This task is much easier if they have something to look forward to after the clean-up is complete.
Remember that we must be good role models. Show your kids exactly what you mean when you ask them to clean their room. By teaching our kids to keep their belongings organized, we are also teaching them to value and respect their surroundings and their things.
My kids will be out of school soon and it almost sends me into a panic. The trick to a great summer is finding a balance between structured activities and downtime. If we schedule every moment with camps and play dates, then summer becomes just as hectic as the school year. On the other hand, if we don’t have anything planned, the kids become bored and that can make for a miserable summer. Follow these tips to ensure that you and your family have a summer of fun-filled and relaxing activities.
1) If you do not use a paper calendar or if you use an online calendar, print out the summer months and place in an obvious place in your home for all family members to see. Be sure to include the pre-planned activities such as sports camps, swim lessons, etc. Then you can write in new events as they come up.
2) Make a “wish list” of things to do over the summer. Get the whole family involved and let each child choose at least one activity. Maybe the roller skating rink or a visit with friends that you don’t have time to see during the school year.
3) Research free things to do in your community. Check out the public library, recreation centers, free concerts in the park. When you find activities that would be fun and of interest to your family, add them to the calendar.
4) Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean that any routines should go away. Routines are still important but maybe they can be loosened up a bit. Beds still need to be made, belongings put away, chores still need to be done! Be sure to build in reading time each day.
5) Remember to relax. Schedule “downtime”. It’s good for kids to be a little bored. It encourages some creativity within them.
Choosing the right container is usually the last step in the organizing process. This is an important consideration because using the wrong container can lead to disorganized chaos. I remind clients when choosing a container, the priority is its ease of use. Simple storage solutions are more important than how pretty the container looks.
Things to consider as you choose a container:
--What will be stored in the container? Take into consideration the amount of stuff and how heavy it will be. Storing heavy items in large bins will make moving them very difficult.
--Where will the containers be stored? Will they need to be stacked? If so, you want to have flat tops so that is possible. You will probably want to take measurements of the shelf, drawer, cabinet, etc. to be sure that the containers will fit.
--Clear is almost always best. You can see what is in the container.
--The more squared off containers are, the more practical. Curves and angles are space wasters.
--Frequently used containers are often better without a lid. It’s just easier. You might not put the mail away if you have to lift or unlatch a lid.
--Let the container be the limit or the boundary for what is stored inside. Once it gets full, it’s time to weed out rather than purchase another container.
Now that you’ve DESIGNATED a home for every item in your house, DIVIDED your stuff into like categories, and DONATED the rest, now what? How do you keep it like this? Maintaining your newly organized area can be the most difficult part of the process. It’s like going on a diet, exercising to reach your desired weight. But if you don’t change your eating and exercise habits after you’ve reached your goal, you’ll put the weight back on. It’s an on-going process that requires changes in your daily living. Some simple maintenance techniques will help your new organizing systems stay ORGANIZED.
1) Subtract before you add - Each time you add to your wardrobe, remove an article of clothing that hasn’t been worn recently and put into the donate bag. Keep a shopping bag in your closet specifically for this purpose.
2) 10 minute tidy- Set a timer for 10 minutes and “tidy” an area of your house. Better yet, have each family member get involved.
3) Pretend you work in a restaurant- Have you noticed that restaurant waitstaff are always bringing things things to your table and then taking something else away? As you travel from room to room, don’t go empty-handed. Deliver things that belong in another area of the house.
4) Tie a new habit to an established one - You’re in the habit of reading the newspaper on Sunday afternoon? Establish a new habit of planning the upcoming week - meals, carpools, etc. after you’ve finished reading the paper.
5) Schedule around holidays - this is good for those tasks that need to be done once a year like cleaning out the file cabinet or organizing photos. An example, associate Labor Day with organizing those photos from summer vacation.
6) Visualize where a new item will go before you purchase it. Will it have a home or is the space already too full? Do you really have space in your kitchen for the ice cream maker that’s so tempting to buy?
7) Select a container/basket for each family member. As you find micellaneous items around the house, drop into the appropriate basket - and have them return THEIR stuff to it’s home.
8) Accountability - Consult with a Professional Organizer to help with a maintenance plan. Just knowing that someone will be holding you accountable may be motivation to keep your organizing system in place and in the meantime, you will have established the new habit.