Let’s face it, kids and organization go together like oil and water. The second something is stacked neatly or ordered systematically the fun train rolls through and undoes anything that may have been put in place.
You may never be able to have a perfect kid space or be able to interest your middle grader in alphabetizing DVDs, but you can encourage some order by making the process easier and kid-friendly.
Don’t Expect Adult Organization
Before you introduce new organizing systems to your children, make sure you check your expectations. If you think you’ll be able to go in with a ruler and white glove and see perfection, odds are you’re going to be disappointed.
Part of the beauty of kids is the unpredictable elements they introduce. Find a middle ground between chaos and flawlessness that you are comfortable with and build new processes that can meet that standard.
Play to Their Nature
According to Suzanne Willett of The Clutterninja, kids naturally enjoy categorizing items, so why not make it into a game?
“Nothing motivates a kid to organize more than realizing it makes room for the stuff they really want to receive and play with. Even preschoolers love to categorize and sort by color and type. Doing this also increases their buy-in. They’re more likely to make an effort to keep it organized,” says Willett.
Create bins that are organized by color or type. If your child knows cars always go in the blue bin they will not only be able to clean up quicker, they’ll also be able learning while they do it.
For really little kids who aren’t quite ready for colors, letters and numbers you can use pictures to indicate what goes where.
Understand Their Limits
Willett also adds that young children are unlikely to stick with a task for more than 30 minutes. If you think a task will run past that, try breaking up the chore or helping out to ensure maximum results.
Rewards Don’t Hurt
Take the opportunity to teach your kids about organizing and earning what they have. While not every job necessarily deserves reward, you can provide special treats for following your organizing system perfectly.
If your child finds the right place to store their toys without instruction a reward can be given to solidify your new process and teach kids the value of following directions.
Organization may not be your child’s favorite thing to do, but it also doesn’t have to be a complete drag. Get them involved in a way that helps them understand and enjoy the process of keeping things neat.