ORGANIZING KIDS

Guest Post

Routine is a mixed blessing. We would end up living in squalor if there was no routine at all, but would die of boredom if life was nothing but routine. Children need at least some routine, and it’s probably better to err on the side of more than less. It’s easier to cut down and deviate from a routine that has been encouraged than it is to try and form one when individuals are accustomed to being lax. Without some routine, or boundaries or other structure children tend to grow confused. Get children to organize school requirements the night before school. It not only saves time in the morning (how long can it take to find the other shoe?) but gives a sense of anticipation for the next day- everything ready to go. Children tend to dump their bags at the front door the moment they get home. Find a place where they can conveniently put the bag, a hook or rack, so it is always there to be found. The same goes with shoes, which children also tend to take off and lose as the first opportunity. Put yourself in the child’s place, or at least at the child’s height and try to see from their perspective. They cannot see anything above their heads, let alone use a peg or draw at that height. Provide options that are easy for them to use. Label a draw and let them know it is for them alone; instil a sense of ownership. As they grow, encourage them to use other facilities. Rather than make it seem like a duty encourage the idea that they have grown into a new privilege. Children want to be bigger; turn new responsibilities into steps along that path. Put unnecessary items in long term storage away from the child. Winter clothes can be stored during summer and vice-verse in winter. This way the child only has to look after what is needed for the present and immediate future. There are some quick pack-up solutions for some situations. Lego consists of a multitude of small parts that are tedious to pick up; keeping all the Lego on a string drawn mat means the whole thing can be packed away in thirty seconds. Think laterally and find other solutions. Cloth shoe organizers aren’t limited to shoes. Anything from Barbie dolls to magazines can neatly fit in there. Encourage the idea that the items are on display. A little work seems much easier if there is a neat result at the end. I use to wonder why parents wanted the child to show visitors the bedroom, but of course it is encouraging them to be tidy. One again, re-enforce the idea that collections of toys are on display and a source of pride. Putting them back in a set place shows the whole point of having a routine. Routines will change over time. The point is to get the child to a point where they can find their own way to organize their life; though that is a fair way into the future for them. Try to communicate the idea that the routine is making their life easier, rather than providing a series of obligations (hard, we know). Routine gets the basic stuff out of the way so we can concentrate on what’s creative and enjoyable.

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