In a survey this year for American Demographics magazine, 89% of Americans said they could use help organizing some part of their lives. 54% of households with children ages 6 to 12 said they needed help organizing clothes. About 30% of families with children under age 6 wanted help organizing toys and games.
Children need to be taught that there is a place for everything (just like in kindergarten). A goal of getting organized is teaching your kids to do it themselves. Being organized is an important life skill (ask anyone who isn’t). It’s like that old adage, “Give a man fish and he’ll eat a meal. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for life.”
If you don’t have the right containers at home, check home and discount stores for stackable bins, baskets, drawers and cubes. Office supply stores, discount department stores and The Container Store are a good source of organizers. But make sure to assess your needs before you start going on a shopping spree.
Getting organized isn’t easy. For many, it is yet another time-consuming, overwhelming project. I offer these tips to start you on your way to beginning an organized course for you and your children. These habits will carry them through out their lifetimes. So be consistent and train and retrain until routines become habit.
- Set up two-pocket file folders for each child to be used for putting daily papers from backpacks. The child places all papers on left side of folder. Parents then need to empty the folders daily and refill (right side pocket) with any papers needing to be signed and returned to school. To be set up in a designated area like the kitchen desk.
- Designate a shelf in the pantry for snacks.
- Designate a shelf for easy-to-reach school supplies.
- Have a packed bag for each after-school activity. A book bag should be just for school.
- Let children select their clothes and lay them out for the next morning.
- The night before going to school, have kids load their backpacks including books, homework, signed papers. Place backpacks by the door and activity bag if needed.
- Start a “to-go” basket near the most accessible door to collect library books, dry cleaning, items to be donated or returned to friends. Each time someone is running errands they can check the basket.
- This is a good time of year to take inventory of the school supplies you have, pitch old, excess supplies and buy new ones.
- Make a list and shop with it to avoid impulse buying (wastes money and creates clutter). Include poster board and science fair boards so you’ll have them when needed, saving a trip.
- Choose an area for a “homework station.” Stock it with a “homework essentials container” including all the supplies needed to complete homework. Include pens, pencils, crayons, glue, scissors, tape, markers. If the workspace you choose is a community area such as the kitchen table, the container should be portable, making cleanup quick and easy. Assign a home for the container so everyone knows where it goes and where to find it. Make sure your child puts it away after each use thus establishing the habit.
Enjoy results- Start off using these tips for a smooth start to the beginning of the school year. You and your family will immediately benefit from the results of having an organized child.
Sophie Bent is a professional organizer and owner of Bent On Organizing, LLC Professional Organizing Services in Palm Beach County. She can be contacted at (561) 404-7181 or on the web at www.bentonorganizing.com.