How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 2

Children have a difficult time conceptualizing proper systems and are bewildered by what tools to use to make their lives easier.  However, if given the proper tools, children are great at using the systems you establish for them.  Here are some tools and ideas you could put into place to help your children organize their environments and feel in control of their surroundings:

Make the playroom easy to play in. Now that you’ve pared down the toys you keep, design a plan for these toys to actually get played with. If your kids can’t see a toy, they don’t think to look for it, and will soon forget it exists (and you’ll probably discover forgotten treasures in the sorting process). Take advantage of any available vertical wall space in a dedicated playroom or on one wall of a bedroom by installing adjustable shelves. Leave more room between the floor and the first shelf to accommodate large items. Place the other shelves about 18 inches apart. For the odd areas under the windows, purchase bins, carts, and storage units from Target. Once you have your organizing equipment, group the toys in a logical order based on type. Invest $30 in a high-grade labeler so you can print and stick custom labels to the edge of the shelves, indicating what goes there.

We have large bins (we actually toss the lid, because they are hard for children to open and aren’t very useful) for the following:

·        Construction equipment

·        Large animals

·        Dress up

·        Balls and outside toys

We have medium bins (no lid) for the following:

·        Toy weapons and vehicles

·        Superhero accessories

·        Hot wheels track and accessories

·        Musical instruments

·        Legos

·        Books stacked vertically as in a bookshelf (I find bins keeps books from falling over and out of bookshelves and they can be sorted by type)

·        Blocks

·        Dinosaurs

·        Stuffed animals

We have small bins for the following:

·        Plastic play dolls and animals

·        Scratch paper

·        Stickers

·        Markers

·        Crayons

·        Colored pencils

·        Craft items

·        Blocks

·        Pegs

·        Puppets

·        Electronic games

·        Electronic books

We have two large rolling carts with three drawers each. One contains:

·        Large superhero characters

·        Medium superhero characters

·        Small superhero characters

The second set of drawers contains:

·        Small superhero pieces (discs, small plastic weapons used by superheroes)

·        Sets of small items in individual Sandwich Baggies (Ninja Turtles with their own things, Wrestlers with their folding chairs and champion belts, etc.)

·        Lace up sets

We used to have a third set of drawers in a rolling cart that had Barbie dolls, Barbie clothing, and Barbie equipment. But when Meagan announced she was too old for them, I secretly bagged up her well-worn dolls and put them in the crawl space. When she’s 16, I will give her the chance to keep her old Barbies (I hope). If not—OUT! We keep larger toys, such as spacecraft, electronic games, and musical instruments on the shelves. Puzzles and games are kept in the box the toy came in. Don’t toss the original box and substitute bags with twist ties or less durable options.

Keeping toys in bedrooms. Many homes don’t have a separate “playroom,” and children keep toys in their rooms. The key is to take advantage of unused vertical space. Select one wall away from the bed and install shelves from the floor to the ceiling. Store toys that are played with frequently (such as favorite dolls or superheroes) in plastic bins and store them underneath the child’s bed. Use a chest at the foot of the bed for a bench for tying shoes, with a lid that opens to conceal additional toys.

Organize entryways. Make it easy for your children to keep their shoes, gloves, and jackets organized. We installed cubbies vertically up a wall in our mudroom, which is right off the garage, and assigned the highest to the tallest child. As each kid walks through the door, sunglasses, mittens, and hats are immediately deposited in the cubbies. Each child also has three hooks for jackets, coats, and backpack. Shoes are placed underneath the cubbies, so they are out of the way.

Teach them to be consistent.  Think about all the annoying little things that are constantly strewn about your home or an item your children can never find.  For example, if your children are constantly losing their shoes, they don’t yet have a proper routine.  Establish a shoe landing pad, right as they enter the house, and teach them to take off their shoes in the same place, every time.  If things end up on the living room floor that belong upstairs, simply because your child doesn’t want to climb the stairs to put things away, allow them to use a stair step or basket as a temporary place to accumulate items that need to go up.  Then next time they head upstairs, they can just grab the entire pile or basket.  The kids know to put their school papers or nifty artwork on my office desk for safekeeping. They’ve learned that if it’s on the kitchen counter, it’s eligible to be tossed, so if they want Mommy to look at it, they put it on her “safe zone.” If you don’t have a place for everything, they can’t learn to put things in their place. 

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