Even those of us who are more inclined to get organised, declutter, plan and have systems can be thrown when dealing with all of that for our families. Suddenly it is not just about us – other people have stuff and their own preferences, and if not on board with your plans it can mean a heck of a lot of extra work for you. Here are some of my top tips for organising your family and for getting them involved with some of the organising and clutter control.
1. When you have small kids you usually cart around a nappy/diaper bag which almost amounts to your life in a bag. As kids grow older (especially once they are pre-school age) you start to ditch the large bag but still need to cart some supplies.
To lighten your load, yet still cover your bases with kids’ needs when out and about, keep a box or basket in your car. Some items to consider including: bandaids and antiseptic cream, suncream, mosquito repellent, sunglasses, change of clothes for early toilet trainers, nappies/ cream/baggies for those still in nappies, few small books and toys for waiting rooms and delays, hairbrush and ties (those with school kids will want this for their girls), few non perishable snacks, a towel – great for spills, sudden illness, nappy leaks or a sudden picnic with no blanket/rug. You can still be prepared but in a more portable way.
2. If your children do after school / weekend activities create specific bags for each activity and (if possible) for each child. As soon as you wash the swimsuits, towel and goggles repack them into the “swim bag”, after gymnastics or cricket or tennis make sure the bag is restocked with any gear or accessories. If there are any items you add last minute (like a water bottle and snack) you can make a hang tag (or use a pre-made luggage tag) and note what needs to be added. Get in the habit of checking the tag each time. This also helps with handing in notes or payments as you can add the envelope to the bag and have it ready to go to the activity the next visit.
3. If you want to increase the chances of your kids tidying up regularly make putting away their stuff easier. You may like shelves and things displayed, but using a bin they drop toys in may make them actually put them back. For book collections you may like them alphabetized and/or sorted, but don’t expect a 7 year old to maintain that system. If you want them to do it make it a simple system or well labelled so they know where to put things back. Don’t rely on verbal cues – label things (with pictures for pre-readers), make them large enough to see, put things in the same spaces as always, use colour as a quick sort (ie the red bin for soft toys, blue one for musical instruments, green one for Lego). Remember the aim is to have them tidying things up regularly in a way that things can be found later, not having them tidy up the “right” way (read: your idea of organised).
4. Along with making putting away things easier, increase the likelihood of them tidying up by putting storage at their level. Even temporary holding bins for during the week (ie bins on wheels or open baskets) can empower them, include them and allow for some delegating. You can always put them into more permanent homes in the evening or on weekends if need be.
5. When your kids receive an influx of new toys, books and things (birthdays, holidays etc) take some time in the days afterwards to help them find new homes for their items rather than putting them away for them. Involving them with an open mind will increase the chances of them taking good care and putting them away – they might have their own ideas on where things belong (their thought process is based on how they play) and might have some things they want on display.
6. If you want your whole family to get involved in cleaning and maintaining your home but find they are resistant consider letting them pick their own chores. If your daughter likes dishwasher duty let her own that chore and if your hubby cannot fold laundry to save his life, but likes to vacuum see if he will be 100% in charge of that chore. The more tasks people happily “own” the more likely they are to do them consistently. If one child loves tidying up books perhaps they do everyone’s bookshelves etc and a sibling who has fun making beds goes room to room and just does bed making. Make it work for you. Again, ownership of tasks make it more likely they will be completed regularly. Also, resist the urge to re-do someone’s job or be prepared to own all the jobs. If your child makes the bed “messy” trust that over time her skills will improve. If you take over the task she is less likely to ever improve and more likely to need nagging to take on the chore again.
7. To build in a habit of decluttering with kids start young. Birthdays and holidays are good times to go through and find what they want to let go of as new things are coming into their lives. It is easier to clarify the message of making room for new interests and levels of books, toys,games etc letting go of what no longer interests them.
What are your top tips to getting your family on board with organising and cleaning your house?
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