Guest Guru: Melissa Smallwood – Organizing With Your Kids
Organizing With Your Kids
By Melissa Smallwood of Multi-tasking Mama and Organized Life by Design, LLC
My youngest son loves Legos™. Even at twelve, he can still spend hours building a skyscraper or airplane with the tiny little blocks. In addition, he belongs to a First Lego League competitive club! What does that mean for the condition of our family/game room? You better wear shoes, because chances are your feet will find one of those surprisingly sharp little buggers if you don’t.
A while back we looked for a way to organize the legos so that the chance of foot injury would be decreased. Of course, the boys concern was that they didn’t want to have to take apart the “masterpiece” they were currently working on.
When you are organizing a play area, these are the types of things you need to take into consideration. If your daughter enjoys playing dress-up then the clothes and shoes need to be put away in an accessible place that makes sense to her, not you. If we are going to expect our children to utilize an organizational concept or tool, it has to be one that they understand and can subscribe to. I have learned from parenting and organizing experience that you need to teach your children how to organize in the way that works for them, not you. My sons’ brains operate very differently than mine and when I am assisting them in becoming more organized it is imperative that I remember that.
After much discussion, we decided to move the “lego zone” into my youngest son’s room. He has a six foot folding table and the agreement is that his legos can be out, in various stages of building, as long as they are on top of or under the “lego” table. This has eliminated the sore feet in my house and keeps his creations from being knocked over by the dog’s tail or a visiting toddler. The board games and video games that are in the family room now are of the less dangerous variety
So, enlist your child’s input when designing a play space. Ask for their ideas when trying to figure out how to organize a toy room. Your kids will be able to tell you if labels would help them; if clear bins would be preferable to a color coded system. Use pictures as labels for younger children until they are able to read. As your kids get older involve them in the organizing process and you will find you they will have a more cooperative tendency to keep the space looking nice and putting things away.
Melissa Smallwood (aka Multi-tasking Mama) has worked with seniors and families as a professional organizer for several years and is the owner of Organized Life by Design, LLC. She has an extensive human services background. She is also the mom of three active adolescent boys (one of which has special needs). She enjoys helping people get their lives, calendars and homes organized so that they have time to see and enjoy their blessings! Melissa has written many articles on organizing for various websites and organizations, hosts a weekly radio show and speaks to groups frequently about organizing and time management.