Organizing is tough. Organizing with kids is even tougher. However, don’t let the task become so daunting that you avoid it all together. Kids learn organizational skills from their parents and other adults in their life. Failure to work with your kids and to teach them the importance of respecting their home and possessions can lead to bad habits in their adolescent years, into college and into adult hood.
One of the hardest areas to keep organized is the playroom. This room, by definition, will be a construction site on a daily basis. And while it doesn’t need to be perfect, a few simple guidelines will help keep things in order and keep everyone a little saner.
Start your organizing project by talking to your kids about why organization is important and why you want them to work with you. Giving them the opportunity to talk about their concerns ahead of time is very important. Often kids think that organizing means getting rid of everything and this is scary to them.
When broaching the subject of getting rid of extra toys, it’s important to talk to kids about WHY it’s important to donate, recycle and purge their toys, clothing and other items. Tell them about those less fortunate and what you plan to do with the items. It’s important that they never feel tricked.
If you ask your kids what they want to get rid of, the answer will always be “nothing”. Instead, set some guidelines. If you give kids a laundry basket or a box and ask them to fill it, they often do so willingly.
You will have to work harder than your kids to get their space organized and you will have to accept the fact that they may dither off during the process. It’s important that you set ground rules. However, it’s also important that you have breaks. Set a timer so your kids know exactly how long they will be working. The same tactic helps adults, by the way.
If you’re wondering where to donate items, I can help you with that as well. Of course, there are your local donation drops such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. However, some toys are trickier to donate than you may think. For example, many places don’t take stuffed animals. A great way to donate unwanted toys is to call your local women’s shelter. Many of them are in need of toys to give to residents when they leave their homes in a hurry. Also, many police stations collect stuffed animals and distribute them to victims of domestic violence or house fires.
If you are looking to make some money from your unwanted items look for a second hand store in your area. Some stores will pay you cash up front for your items. You will earn less from these stores but the store accepts all the risk of the item selling and you take home cash the next day.
Another great place to take toys and books is the children’s wing of your local hospital. Often the toys there are out of date and well worn. Day care facilities often accept donations as well as military bases. Ask your friends and family about places to donate in your local area.
It’s a great idea to challenge your friends to also get rid of things at the same time. You can offer to do the drop off of donations and gather as much as possible. Give yourselves a deadline. That way you can’t push off getting organized. Hold each other accountable.
Once you have organized with your kids, you need to put a maintenance plan into effect. Every day hold a “ten-minute tidy”. During this time, have all family members work on their own space. Your kids can work on their space. Decide if you want to implement a chore chart to help them stay on track. Remember, they are looking to you for guidance and only you can hold them accountable and enforce consequences. Organizing is an ongoing task. In order to stay organized, it’s going to require a little work, every day. However, if you are willing to dedicate a few minutes when it works for you, after dinner, before work, etc, you can live a calmer, more organized life.