Monday, January 14, 2013

Get Organized!

Keeping thing organized makes life a little easier. We all know this but how do we organize in a way that is child friendly and enlists their cooperation. Here are a few easy tips to get you started on the right path.

A Place for Everything - Having a place for everything is vital to encouraging all family members to maintain an organized household. Children's items should be at their level. We had a locker style cupboard for each child where their coat, boots, hat, mittens, etc. had a home. There was no reason for a coat on the floor or boot out so it could be tripped over. That doesn't mean it didn't happen from time to time, but then it was just a matter of reminding the child they were responsible for getting their items back into their locker. Backpacks came to the kitchen table to be reviewed before homework was done. By the morning the backpack was in their locker ready to go for the day. We created places with easy access for toys, games, art supplies, etc. Some items were needed to be stored out of children's reach and became the adults responsibility to retrieve.
Taming Paper Clutter - Whether it's information from school or the daily mail, paper can take over if you aren't prepared with a way to deal with it. I liked having a plastic expandable folder for each child and to help me keep them straight they were each a different color. This made it so easy to file away items for future reference. If a permission slip or other time sensitive item came home we dealt with it immediately often being placed back into the child's backpack for return to school the next day. However, if it was something that needed to be handled for a later date I put a post-it flag on it making sure it was in the front of the folder visible to everyone. Mail coming into the house was sorted and placed in appropriate trays to be handled. The typical rule is once you touch something you should deal with it immediately - file, trash/recycle or manage immediately. This is good to keep in mind. I found that I didn't always have time to deal with it immediately and thus the sorting trays became a good option. Periodically take time to clean out trays or children's folders and recycle paper.
Room to Grow - Children's rooms need to be child friendly and able to grow with them. So to the organization in their room. As the children got older we went from a toy box and small table to a desk and shelf system for their personal or school related items. Look for ways to make it work over time and be age appropriate. Having their own laundry basket or hamper was started when they were older toddlers and preschool age. Closet should be organized so that they can help adults take care of clothing, shoes and accessories. This system needs to grow with them too. There are all kinds of containers that can be helpful at different stages. Children's rooms should have some space for play or activities. Keeping it organized really helps. Provide for opportunities for a child's personal style to shine through as well. Maybe their favorite color for containers or hangers, or maybe in how they set up and accessorize their desk. When they feel connected to their space with easy access storage they will be more likely to keep it tidy.
Keepsake Keepers - There are going to be items that you and/or the children will want to save. Each child had their own Keepsake Keeper to put items in and their parents had another for items they felt they wanted to keep that wasn't already saved by each child. While an essay on frogs with original art wasn't in the child's "to save" file, Mom really wanted that kept. This opened the door for to deal with other items appropriately. We tried to have a sort through weekly. Then periodically - usually once a year - review all the items in your containers. It's a good idea to be sure you want to save those items. Each child had their container in their closet. Their parents kept one for each child in their basement storage area. It's fun to open up the containers and relieve the memories.

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