Kas Winters

Use Organization to Teach Life Long Lessions

Use organization to teach life-long lessons
by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™


Discovertheregion.comOrganization! It’s one of those words that many people find scary and youngsters don’t seem to like it at all. Yet, even a few bits of it can reduce stress for parents and kids too. Here are a few ideas that worked for our family and might help yours.

Toys are everywhere! Give them homes. When our children were young, we helped this situation with a collection of plastic dishpans set on shelves. (Any kind of container will work, as long as it’s big enough to hold some toys and small enough for several to fit in a child’s room or space.) Depending on reading ability, the tubs were labeled with a picture or word that defined its contents. When it was time to put toys away, our little ones knew where the “home” was for each type of toy–dolls, cars, games, puzzles, whatever it was–it had a place where it belonged. This was also a way of teaching them to think. They learned to group toys by categories, to decide which box was appropriate, and to appreciate knowing where to find the toys when they wanted them again. We didn’t police this or make a huge deal about it but gradually, we set a pattern, habits developed, and they felt in control of their “stuff” on some level. We did make them responsible for picking up their own things in the general areas of our home. Once they reached school-age, they cleaned (or didn’t clean) their own rooms. As they got older, I helped twice a year–once during the summer to help them get organized before school began and a second time at the beginning of December to sort through toys and items for things that could be cleaned, fixed, and donated to others who might not get gifts for the holidays.

Another thing that helped encourage our children to keep their areas reasonably clean, was giving them a voice in the decorating and look of their rooms. They chose various themes and color schemes over the years and helped to create (and recreate) their spaces. When old enough, they helped paint walls, make decorations, choose accessories such as lamps or fabric for curtains or bedspreads. Taking ownership of their rooms helped to make them want to maintain a reasonable amount of organization in them (at least until they were teens-which was a completely different story).

Papers can also be given a home–especially when students bring plenty of them from school and extra-curricular activities. When children come home, all papers that parents need to read or sign are put in a single location. Use an in-box, a designated space on a shelf or other place. It saves looking for things and helps parents to stay on top of school events, expenses, and special information.

Chore charts were very much a part of life in our home. Everyone had a job to do. It was part of being a member of the family. We made the charts creative and children had some say in choosing the work for which they would be responsible. Although our kids had opportunities to earn extra cash, chores were considered part of working together as a family, and they usually didn’t get paid to do them. They could set a goal and if they completed a certain number of chores over a period of time, for which they could choose a reward of some sort–a movie to see, going to the park, or doing something together like a craft project or baking cookies. We also taught them how to do the work as they got to the age or ability to handle various tasks. They knew exactly what was expected of them whether it was sweeping a floor or doing dishes. With all of us working together, tasks could be accomplished faster and there was often time for a little fun.

From early on, our children learned to be responsible for their schedules to the extent that they could at each age. It is a skill that serves them all well as adults and made things easier for everyone when they were young. We used a family calendar that listed everyone’s appointments, commitments, project due dates, etc. They each had an alarm clock and a watch and were able to get themselves up and ready for school, with less and less assistance as they grew. Having homes for backpacks, jackets, and other items to take to school also helped. Looking for missing shoes is time-consuming and frustrating for everyone.

Having a few basic areas of organization proved to benefit our children and reduced stress for parents and kids alike. You might just try creating designated homes for a few things and see if it helps. If it does, try a few more.

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