Guest Guru Heather Lambie, CEO of YourHomeEditor.com
Get your kid clutter under control—once and for all!
Ninety percent of my organizing clients are women and of those, ninety-nine percent are moms. This comes as no surprise to me, since I’m a mom of two kids myself. I understand how toy and kid clutter can invade a space and spread like a virus and why, when you’re already overwhelmed, you just want to wave a wand and make it all disappear.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and you’re going to have to take some measures to set up maintainable systems for your kids and their stuff. And then the really hard part comes in: you have to do the same for yourself. More on that in a moment.
First, follow these tips when setting up an organizational system for your child:
Bow down to kid clutter. Get on your knees when organizing your kids’ space. Seeing things from their perspective (and reach) will make a huge difference in how you organize their space.
Categorize and containerize.
Teach your child about categories by supplying containers where they can sort their toys and craft materials by type: Legos, Barbie, Pokemon finger paints, chalk, etc. Consider the type of learner your child is. If you have several children and they are visual learners, you can purchase different color bins for each child. Or you can use the colors to indicate the type of toy that should go in it. If she’s a kinesthetic learner, choose bins with different textures (metal, plastic, leather, wicker, faux fur) for sorting. If he’s auditory, attach bells and whistles to the bins (literally).
Create zones in the room.
Identify with your child the activities that take place in his or her room—sleeping, dressing, reading, crafting, music, homework, collections—and then make sure stuff for that zone stays there. When they get a new toy, decide together where its storage place will be so that they know exactly where to put it away when they tidy up and there’s no excuse for it to be on the floor.
Maintenance is key.
Teach kids to tidy up their rooms (bedrooms AND playrooms) just two times a day. The first is when they get ready for bed. Teach them to “put their rooms to bed” the same way they put their body to bed. So in addition to brushing teeth and changing into PJs, they clean up their room. This way they never wake up to yesterday’s mess. They start with a clean slate.
The second time they straighten up is whenever they leave the house for any reason. So no matter whether they are leaving for school, a sports practice, or dinner out with the family, the room has to be in order first.
Now back to why it’s important to keep yourself organized for the sake of your kids. It is imperative for parents to model the behavior they desire for their children because even before kids have the developmental capability to organize and compartmentalize their toys, clothes, and playthings, they have the most powerful ability imaginable: the ability to observe.
So if you want to know how to get your kid to put away his toys and clothes and keep his room organized, start in your own closet and take a look at the papers on your own desk. Are you setting the right example?
Ask yourself if you are modeling the “less is more” philosophy.
Do you keep things (clutter, paper, clothes) to a bare minimum in the home? Or do you buy a little something for your kids each time you go to Target just to keep them quiet while you’re there? Uh huh.
Once you are committed to modeling the right behaviors and you have set up systems your kids can use, you need to:
1. Set limits on what toys, books, and clothing comes into the home (and
2. Instill routines (remember, maintenance is key—hence why I’ve bolded
it). Lastly, you must
3. Be The Enforcer, and demand that these systems, limits and routines are
adhered to, even when you’re tired or in a hurry. Setting these
expectations early on will save you so much time (and nagging) in later
July is Purposeful Parenting Month (I know, they have a holiday for everything, don’t they?). If you start to apply these tips now, when your kids are young, you will be taking the first step toward teaching your kids how to be organized adults. Now that’s what I call parenting with purpose!
About Heather and www.yourhomeeditor.com:
Heather Lambie is a professional organizer in Tampa Bay, FL and the Founder and CEO of www.yourhomeeditor.com. The names Your Home Editor (SM) and Your Business Editor are a nod to Heather’s degree in journalism and her 15 years experience in graphic design (much of it at magazines). Your Home Editors will help you organize and edit your possessions in the same way a magazine editor edits down the word clutter in an article. When only the best of the best remains, simplicity and perfection is revealed. Heather and her team offer inventive, clever solutions for simplifying the everyday clutter and stress that invades the modern lifestyle. Check out her amazing before and after shots as well as tips for organizing at www.yourhomeeditor.com