How to Organize with Kids - Part 3
If you haven't had the chance to read part 1 or part 2 of this 3 part series "How to Organize with Kids," go back to read that first before continuing. It gives great insight into my journey into organizing with young kids. You can find the first post here and the second part here.
In the first two posts, I addressed decluttering toys and clothes and the type of storage I like to use. Today, I'm doing to adress tidying each night, how to help our children and make the act of organizing fun.
Tidy Each Night
If I'm completely honest, this is a constant struggle in our home. But when our home is tidy and maintains organiziation eveyone in the family is more at peace with a little less chaos.
That's why I suggest a quick 5-10 minute tidy of their rooms each night, I know for many (our home included) it ends up being a couple of times a week instead of each night. It makes all the difference in the overall tidyness of the room. And because it stays relatively tidy throughout the week, it is so much easier to do a full clean and reset weekly.
Create a routine that works for you and your family. The 10-minute tidy may be before or after homework, dinner, or bathtime. Just whenever you decide, stick to the same time so your children will eventually expect it and the tidying becomes less of a fight with your kids.
I really can't stress it enough that kids need our help when it comes to tidying their spaces. They need a gameplan to follow, and we should be present to model how to tidy.
When thinking about this tidying process I'm about to explain, it kind of resembles the gradual release model I learned as a teacher. Super impactful in teaching children how to follow a concept.
For example, phrases such as "go clean your room" have little to no impact on the success of your children actually tidying their rooms. Children need guidance, so you can begin with saying, "I need all cars placed back in this container." Point them to the container (which is hopefully open and has a label like I discussed in the second post) by physically picking up a toy car and placing it in the container yourself. Then release some of the responsibility to your child by pointing to a car that needs to be picked up by them and placed in the container. You may have to pick up another car yourself or point out another car to young children before releasing more responsibility. Then you may ask, "Will you show me a toy car that needs to be picked up and placed in the bin?" And have them do the process themselves.
At that time, because you have modeled the process with the child and helped them, they should be able to finish picking up the rest of the toy cars independently. But just as a reminder the younger they are, the more help they are going to need staying focused on the task. So stay present with them until they are finished and need to move on to the next category of toys. As they get older and have seen the process of tidying modeled, it will get easier. And if you keep reading til the end, I'll share a short success I had the other day with my children.
Make Organizing Fun
I feel like this can apply to any "chore" for kids or adults! I enjoy doing a task so much more if I have a podcast or music to listen to. It keeps me motivated and makes the task less daunting.
So I suggest a few ways to make organizing/tidying fun:
Set a timer
Have a competition
Turn on some music
Depending on the object, let them attempt to "shoot a basket" to place in a container
Create a game out of it.
Assign a child a color so they clean up all objects that are a certain color.
Create a motivator to get the room tidy quickly.
The list could go on. Make it feel less like a chore and more like a fun activity to keep them focused.
Stay present to keep children stay on task and help when they aren't sure what to pick up next. Tidying multiple times a week (or daily) makes the task more manageable and gives them practice on how to tidy. Continue to be a role model throughout the home.
Here's a quick success story about how following the 5 processes above have created more stability in our home...
The other day it was time to do a full clean in the kids bedrooms. We had had an eventful week and weekend and their rooms had been neglected. The girls were playing outside while I was cleaning other parts of the home. But it had come time to get their room back in order to start the busy week. At first it was a struggle to stop two young children from playing outside to clean their rooms.
I had a brief conversation with them about setting a timer, and if they could get it all tidy and organized within that time frame they could quickly go back outside to play. If they didn't beat the time, it would be reset, and they would have to stay inside for the length of the second timer, even if they got finished tidying the room before it finished. This became their motivator - both the timer and a quick promise that they would get to go back outside to play.
So I assigned a certain category for each child to start with, put on some music, and set a timer for 10 minutes. It was a struggle for my youngest daughter to get motivaed, so I had to revert back to the gradual release model I mentioned above. But before long, she was on her way to picking up.
They got reminders of how much time they had left. I stayed present to help them straighten (because we are a team), assign another category when needed, and be their motivation.
We didn't beat the 10 minutes because of the slow start. And because of the busy week/weekend prior, their room had not been tidied daily. So I reset the timer for another 10 minutes... They knew it was game on then because they didn't want to have to reset the timer a 3rd time and miss that time playing outside. They finsihed in a total of 15 minutes! I was so impressed! I had already assumed in my mind it would take at least 20 minutes, so the 10 minutes was just a push to motivate them . If I would have set the timer for 20 minutes originally they wouldn't have been as motivated to get the room tidied quickly and would have taken their time.
They were back outside playing in no time at all, and I was a mom at peace!
Before I started follwing these processes in our children's bedroom, I was constantly overwhelmed with the clutter in their rooms. It would take well over an hour (sometimes multiple hours) to get the room back in order. I wasted so much precious time with their rooms, and they were never able to enjoy playing in there. After going through this process of decluttering, organizing, and maintaining their room, I have such a peace and calm! The girls have a calm and organized space to play. Now, I can spend the extra 30 minutes (that used to be wasted cleaning) on playing with my kids or enjoying a good book.
The overwhelm and stress are gone.
P.S If you would like to experience the same kind of peace I feel with our kids' organized space and not sure where to begin, contact me a www.southernsort.com/contact to schedule your complimentary consultation.
I would love the opportunity to get your home organized!