Organizing and decluttering are two of my favorite things to do. But having a child certainly makes it harder. Not only do we have a lot more STUFF around the house, but it’s also a daily battle keeping things from getting out of hand (game pieces, puzzles, LEGOs… oh my!).
Even Marie Kondo herself has waved the white flag on keeping things pristine after having kids. (She’s the Japanese organizing guru with a show on Netflix, Cleaning Up With Marie Kondo.)
“Motherhood taught me to be more forgiving of myself,” Kondo said on her KonMari blog. “The joy that comes from parenting exceeds any satisfaction that could have come from a perfectly neat home.”
And yes, parenting is a joy. But I’m still a firm believer that my son’s stuff doesn’t need to take over every room in the home. Turns out, experts agree! There are many benefits to a tidy home and kids can get in on the good stuff, too.
In fact, Jessica Howard, Hilton Head Island Elementary School counselor, said teaching children to be organized at home can have a positive impact on their academics. That’s because enforcing responsibilities at home can help prepare kids for being organized at school.
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So, how exactly do you teach a child to be organized? Licensed professional counselor, Dr. Debi Lynes, says your child’s bedroom is a great place to start.
I know, I know… children’s bedrooms are the bane of many parents’ existence. But a child’s bedroom is the perfect place to set some expectations because it’s their own space. The key is to come at it from an empowering angle vs. a negative one.
Of course, “clean” means vastly different things at different ages, so be sure to adjust your expectations (or you’ll drive yourself crazy!).
General guidelines according to Dr. Lynes:
· 16 months +:
Children can begin cleaning up. Keep it simple.
· Between 1 and 2 years old:
Start modeling cleaning and get your child involved. (Spray the cleaner on the table and let your child wipe it up or use the dust-pan and let your child sweep.)
· Around 2 – 4 years old:
Teach your child to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket. This is also a good time to teach task completion, such as opening and closing lids or doors.
· Between ages 5 and 8 years old:
Children can start working on independence and empowerment at this age.
This site offers even more age appropriate insights on getting kids involved with chores.
Here’s a fun and simple idea: Print this FREE 30-Day Habit Tracker and ask your kids to form one new habit in the area of organization or clean up.
“Be creative and concrete and clear,” Lynes said. “And have fun with it. It is a very good teaching opportunity. Keeping a room clean teaches not just cleanliness but order. It can teach organization. It can teach prioritizing.”
Don’t forget to sign up for the Empowering Kids with Character email newsletter for more character building tips and tricks.
What do you think about organizing and striving for a tidy home in 2020? Leave a message in the comments and share your thoughts.
***Meg Keys is an award-winning advertising and marketing writer and the author of The Waiting Line – What to Do (and Not Do) When Someone You Love is Struggling with Infertility. She is fueled by her love of food, art and fluffy pets and lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and son. Find her at megkeys.com.