Whenever I can, I actively include my twin daughters Sydney and Peyton in the day-to-day operations of our home. I discover every day more reasons to allow them take ownership of their own lives as they grow and mature in each passing moment. I start in their room. Each girl is learning to be responsible for their own toys and clothes. As 2-year olds, I have purchased a special shelf for each daughter to use for things they have made. I do this to show them to take care of their precious stuff, and thus themselves.
For older children, pocket organizers in their closet can be a great, similar tool. Attach an organizer to the back of the closet door and ask your child to use it to keep their fun accessories and shoes organized.
As an organization expert and consultant, my “toy story” moments occur when I am shopping for new organizational tools at stores like The Container Store or Ikea. So, let your child discover this same feeling. Get them involved in the shopping for the organizational tools you want them to accept as fun. Let them pick their favorite colors and styles they like. Doing so encourages a feeling of ownership that self motivates your child to help maintain the system that is being implemented.
It is like letting your child pick his favorite flavor of jelly when you are together in the grocery aisle. Children feel a strong sense of self when they are included in your projects. With this mindset as your foundation, it is easier to hold your kids accountable. Do the organizing with them and set the example.
Be careful to not overwhelm your children at first. Start slowly, only spending about 30 minutes on any project at a time. Kids burn out more easily than us, and it is important to make keeping their attention a priority. Guidance that cannot be received by your child is not effective guidance.
Involving your children in the overall project gives you the opportunity to explain why it’s important to keep things, and thus your life, organized. Showing them an easy way to keep items in order allows the influence of neat, clean energy in the child’s room and life. By valuing their own toys, cds, dvds, and games, this lesson of organization will make more sense and will thus be more easily accepted by your child.
When implementing a system of organization, your priority should be to sort, store and organize simply and in a way easily understood by your children. Thinking from their perspective will help them to keep things organized. As you develop organizational solutions in your home, make sure they are easy for your kids to access—not too high off the ground or too low and in their way.
Label things in a way for your children to read it. For younger children, use block letters and pictures of what goes where. Be as creative as possible with your labeling system.
And most importantly, make a schedule for the maintenance of your new organizational system that includes rewards for keeping up the system. After completion of certain tasks, let your kids know that will earn a fun play date, a movie, or even a creative fun coupon for a “Mommy and Me” night out.
Tonia Tomlin is the Founder and President of Sorted Out™ and Sorted Out Publishing. Tonia is an author, publisher, speaker and mother of twin girls. She has been featured on HGTV’s, Mission: Organization, and is the author of the book Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms-of-Multiples’ Guide to an Organized Family. For more information, please email: Tonia@SortedOut.biz or visit www.SortedOut.biz