Is it possible to raise children who know how to put things away, where to store items and how to hold accountability over what they use or own?
I’ll be honest, years ago when I was in the thick of raising four little ones, I would have said, “No way!”
When my kids were young, teaching them how to be organized was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I was in full-blown survival mode, and while keeping an organized home was important to me, it was not something I involved my little kids in as much as I should have.
Now, after seeing what can happen in my home when kids are involved in the organization of it, I now wish to share this with others so they too can reap the rewards of what organized kids can do!
Here’s how we began in my family. One day, years ago, I lost my cool one day over the loads and loads of laundry to fold (and by losing my cool, I mean throwing a ‘mommy tantrum’). I could not be more frustrated when after hours of folding laundry, I’d find my kids rummaging through their piles of folded clothes to which they seemed to care less that hours of folding went into them. I couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to throw my hands up and surrender. This is when my patient and much wiser husband suggested we teach our kids how to do their own laundry.
I thought he was crazy! I mean, our boys were the ages of 8, 6 and 4 at that time, and there was just no way in my mind that they would be able to learn something like that. My husband was much more optimistic than me and that day he showed each of our boys how to do their laundry.
What about folding you ask? Easy, my husband went out that day and bought each child their own ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ laundry basket. He told the boys that they wouldn’t be required to fold their laundry yet, but needed to make sure that they put their dirty clothing in their dirty basket each day, and all their clean laundry in their clean basket.
That was it. Skeptical, I waited and waited to see when the laundry would pile up again and I’d be back in my spot on the sofa spending hours folding my kids’ laundry…. but guess what? It never happened!
Surprisingly, the boys not only were doing their own laundry, but they actually enjoyed doing it! In fact, my 6-year-old even got a little giddy every time he’d toss the detergent packet in the washing machine and push the start button.
My three boys have now been consistently doing their own laundry for over 2.5 years now.
I was awe-struck!
If we can teach our little guys how to do their own laundry, what else are the capable of? This is when our kids began their own roads to becoming organized kids! Once one habit became a part of the routine, we were able to add more here and there until our home and personal lives were in full-functioning order.
Once laundry became the norm, we added daily chores for our children, which included a small morning chore and evening chore after our meals. Chores like emptying the garbage, wiping the counters and emptying the dishwasher kind of tasks (most taking about 5-10 mins to complete).
We also added daily family courtesy cleanup times that as an entire family, we participate in. These cleanups usually take place before bedtime, and during the summer when the kids are home from school, after lunchtime.
We have taught our kids about where items are stored and even give them precedence over where some of their personal items could be stored. They are learning how to store things in logical and maintainable places. They ask questions like, “Does this make sense to store this item here? Or would it make more sense over there?”
They are learning how to let go of items they no longer love and need. I’ll admit, as a mom who’s passionate about organizing, this part of teaching is my all-time favorite! I love seeing my kids learn this skill and am excited when I see them able to reason with their mind as they throw away broken or unused items, or ask me to donate an item they don’t need it anymore.
These may seem like insignificant, basic skills, but I couldn’t disagree more! I feel so strongly that not only can our kids become more responsible and learn all these tools of organization at a young age, but these skills will serve them their whole life and help them gain personal responsibility and accountability.
What happens when they forget to do their laundry and its picture day at school? What happens when they leave an item on the floor and it gets stepped on and breaks? What happens when they can’t find one of their toys because they didn’t put it away where it belongs? What happens when they have items they don’t use anymore? What happens when they choose not to do their chores or help during courtesy cleanups?
All of these situations involve natural consequences. They all involve personal responsibility and accountability. They all involve growth and personal development. They all involve skill.
I am proud to say that while my kids still whine, complain and have days when they don’t want to do their chores, laundry or tasks; they are learning and becoming truly organized people.
They contribute to our home and make it better! They help me be better. They are often my example.
So, can we raise organized kids? You betcha! In fact, I believe it’s our responsibility as parents to do all we can to teach them life-long skills that will benefit their lives.
Start small and as they grow and develop these habits and skills, your home will not only gain more support in its organization and order, but your kids will gain that consistent and stable routine they thrive in.
Our kids are capable of so much! Let’s send them out into the world with organizational skills that will benefit themselves and others. It’s those simple things that can change their world for the better.
Want some more ideas on how to raise organized kids? Check out these tips here: