As many parents can attest to, there is never enough time for all matters of self, family, work and home. But keeping your home neat and organized with kids doesn’t have to be an impossible task. There is no need to resign yourself to the fact that serene living is unattainable until you become an empty-nester.
The following tips from Professional Organizer in Canada’s Christine Janes can help you keep your home from becoming a zoo!
- State your expectations
Whether you have toddlers, or teenagers or all ages in between, you need to set the rules of the home to help keep it organized. As soon as toddlers get to preschool, they learn the “Tidy Up” song and this can be used at home too in order to help your child learn to clean up after they have played with their toys. Be sure to help them to put away their toys at first so they can learn from you before they start cleaning up on their own.
Likewise, have a talk with your tween or teen to let them know what the house rules are. Clearly lay out what you expect e.g. make your bed, empty the dishwasher on Saturday mornings, put your clean laundry away. Tieing a reward to these itemized tasks are a great incentive.
Teach your kids
Prioritizing and organizing are not traits we’re born with, but skills we are taught. Teach your kids about limits. If there is only an influx of things but no exit plan, baskets, bins and rooms will eventually be overcrowded. When the toy baskets are overflowing, it’s time to have a talk about what is still age-appropriate, what is a favourite and what might be passed along to make someone else happy.
Earmark some time, about 2 to 4 weeks before birthdays and Christmas, to talk to each of your children about what to let go of. Explain that they will receive a lot of presents and need to make space for all the new stuff to come. Let your child decide on the best way to let go of their once-loved possessions. This is a great opportunity to teach your children about donating to those in need.
Have a place for everything in your home
Have designated spaces in the home for your kids things. The crayons, construction paper and art supplies go into the “art” basket or file folders. Frisbees, balls and racquets belong in the big bin in the garage. Make sure your kids know which item goes where to keep them on top of the organization.
Keep it simple
Just like adults, kids are more likely to follow the rules of organization if they are easy. Use open baskets for dirty laundry and toy storage. Avoid stacking bins; the extra steps of fitting on lids and stacking and unstacking bins will be the difference between things being put a way, or strewn about the room. Use hooks for hanging coats, clothes and towels. Consider introducing drawer dividers in dresser drawers, having a section for each type of clothing is a first step to maintaining some order in those drawers.
Make it fun
When a cursory glance around your home suggests that a twister passed through, it’s time for some friendly competition. Round up your family members, set a timer for 5, 10 or 15 minutes and challenge your chaos-creators to see who can put away the most things within the allotted time. The winner gets to choose the next family movie, board game or outing.
This may be the toughest of all to do. Telling your kids what is expected only once, will not be enough. You will have to repeat the message. A lot. But the consistent repetition of the message will make it clear that you’re committed to these decisions. Eventually, the reminders will be less frequent and receive less push-back. Then one day you’ll notice that your chaos has been replaced by a steady rhythm of activity, where everyone contributes and your home is easier to manage.
If you need help with the decluttering process visit www.organizersincanada.com to find a Professional Organizer in Canada near you.
Christine Janes is a professional organizer certified in chronic disorganization and founder of HomePuzzle. She is a Silver Leaf member of Professional Organizers in Canada and has nearly 10 years experience in residential decluttering, organizing, downsizing and move management in Toronto, Peel, York and Halton regions.