A lot of parents think of home organization as a pipe dream but it is possible with the right strategies. I asked Northampton-based parenting consultant Sarah Getoff to share her wisdom for parents trying to help kids stay organized. Read on for her strategies for getting organized with kids. Thank you, Sarah!
Do your kids forget to hang up their coats and put away their backpacks? Do you find their shoes in the most unlikely and unwelcome places?
Once you decide to set up a well organized system in your house, the next step is getting the kids to use it. Here are some strategies that have worked for the parents in my practice and for myself.
Try to get them invested in the idea.
Include them in small decisions about where backpacks should live or what color the shoe shelves will be. Feeling included in the making of a plan can increase a child’s willingness to execute the plan.
Create a non-negotiable routine that inspires their motivation.
For example, their stuff must be organized before having screen time or before doing something enjoyable. If they are craving their phone or waiting for something fun, they will be more motivated to get it done.
Model organization and appreciation.
Check yourself to make sure that you are putting your stuff away too. Catch them doing it right and say “Thank you” or “I really appreciate how much tidier the house looks, thanks”.
Breathe, Insist, Breathe again!
When they resist, you insist. Take a deep breath and say something like, “I know you wish you didn’t have to. Let me know when it’s done and you may have your phone.” Keep it brief. Then walk away. Avoid discussions and power struggles; just set the boundary and hold it firmly.
Teaching kids to be organized is a marathon, not a sprint, so hang in there. Being organized is an important life skill that they will eventually be glad you taught them, even though they grumble now. Let them grumble, as long as they do it while they hang up their coat!
Sarah is a parenting consultant and psychotherapist in private practice in Northampton, MA. She offers parenting consultations, support groups, couples counseling and individual therapy, and has presented workshops all over New England and beyond. Sarah feels blessed every day to be doing the work that she loves. Learn about Sarah's upcoming parenting group or contact her at sarahgetoff.com.