There’s a lot to do to keep a family and a household functioning! And there’s only so much time in each day. So as a mother, I want my kids to learn to pitch in – while still being “kids”, of course! If we all work together, things run a lot more smoothly, and everyone – even the kids – benefits! Here you’ll find 10 simple ways your kids can help your home stay more organized – and gain confidence along the way!
1. KIDS MAKE THEIR OWN BEDS STARTING AT AGE 5
I am not a super-neat person (contrary to popular belief after I wrote this massive post with 100+ ideas for organizing!), but there is something about having all the beds made each day that makes my home feel pulled together even if everything else is a disaster. So I implemented a rule (it’s more like a tradition now) where each child starts making her bed at age 5 every day – and I mean every day. (You, too, also have to make your bed to set a good example!)
When my daughters make their beds, I never, ever touch touch them – no matter what. It will become a source of pride – if you go and make the bed “better”, your child will feel like you’re disappointed in his/her efforts. You’d be amazed by how fast they get good at it! And it quickly becomes a habit, too – my girls have even made their beds in a hotel room before they realized what they were doing!
Three of my four daughters have now crossed into the world of bed-making, and it’s just something we do in our house – there is no whining anymore. My third daughter actually couldn’t wait to make her bed on her 5th birthday – she ran in and woke me up that morning, dragging me out of bed to show me her room. That’s when I took the picture below on the left. Being able to make your own bed is a sign that you’re growing up! And having beds made in each room really makes a huge difference in making your home feel organized – and you didn’t have to be the one racing around making them all! We all win!
Side Note: Our girls also give up their blankets at age 5 (as I mention in this post with 10 things to think about before your child starts kindergarten - one of my most popular posts). So, if they can show us that they’re grown up enough to make their beds and sleep without a blanket, they can get their ears pierced whenever they’re feeling brave! That’s our deal. Turning five is serious business around here.
2. REMOVE HAMPERS FROM KIDS’ ROOMS
I know this might seem counterintuitive, but removing our kids’ hampers from their bedrooms has helped our home stay much more organized! Each night, they need to walk their dirty clothing to the laundry room (or my husband or I will grab it from them when we tuck them in). It takes just a bit of effort to walk everything to the laundry room, but then all the dirty clothing is in one place. Their rooms stay so much neater, and it’s easier to keep track of the laundry as well.
Side note: Find all my best tips here to help keep your laundry from making you crazy! (Not gonna lie – before I revised my system, I might have cried about the laundry once or twice – or lots of times… Not anymore, though!! I have finally tamed the laundry beast!)
3. LABEL DIVIDED LAUNDRY BINS TO HELP KIDS SORT
Another favorite laundry tip: label a divided sorter as shown so your kids can help you sort correctly. My kids walk into the laundry room, and then they can match the colors (even before they can read) to ensure that they toss their clothing into the right bin. They actually think it’s kind of fun when they’re little – matching the colors is like a game to them!
Find the labels I made here for easy printing. I just printed the sheet on cardstock; cut the words to create a label; and then I simply stapled them right on the bin.
4. TEACH KIDS TO PUT THEIR LAUNDRY AWAY
Are you the laundry fairy? One day I realized that I was just that. My kids would open their drawers, and clean clothes would magically appear. So I began stacking their laundry on their beds; now they are responsible for putting it away. I don’t think that’s too much to ask after I’ve washed and folded it all! (Until about age 5-6, they might need a little help, though, or your folding will be a waste of time as they shove everything in their drawers!) I get my work done more quickly this way, and it teaches them to pitch in. Our family is a team, and I want them to understand that.
5. DON’T STACK IN PILES – MAKE CLOTHING VISIBLE
I love this new “drawer system” so much that I wrote an entire post about it! Almost every drawer in our house is arranged this way now (including my own!), and I can’t begin to tell you how great it is! For kids, especially, it helps them see exactly what they want so they aren’t rummaging through their drawers frantically in search of something. You can also fit a lot more in drawers this way – you won’t believe how much space you can create! Kids also will wear a larger variety of their clothing – they won’t just keep returning to whatever is on top!
6. MAKE SURE KIDS CAN REACH THEIR OWN CLOTHES
I am a huge fan of encouraging my kids to dress themselves as soon as they’re able (there are a lot of crazy outfits between the ages of 3-6!). And as I said above in #4, I also ask them to put their clothing away. But they can’t do either of these things if they can’t reach their stuff! Take a look around your child’s room – if you store most clothing up out of their reach, maybe you can move some things around to help them become more independent – and that helps you get time back in your day, too!
7. USE LOW HOOKS FOR TOWELS SO KIDS CAN REACH
Just as you want your kids to be able to reach their clothing, it would help them if they could hang up their own towels as well. When we did some renovating recently, we installed hooks for the kids down low. They’re no longer throwing their towels up toward the towel bar (where everything often ends up in a wet heap on the floor)! You can also dry more towels at once this way (and more thoroughly), which allows the towels to be used a few times – and that cuts down on your laundry, too! (Are you seeing a pattern here? How can we save time so we can have more of it to do the things we really want to do?!)
8. MAKE YOUR KIDS’ DISHES ACCESSIBLE
In keeping with the “can your kids reach?” theme, it’s also helpful if you store your kids’ dishes down low. Your children can then help set the table, unload the dishwasher, or even simply grab a cup to get water for themselves. The more you teach your child to do on his/her own, the better off you’ll both be!
9. TEACH KIDS TO KEEP TRACK OF (AND PACK/UNPACK) THEIR BACKPACKS
I’ve found that it’s so important to have a designated place for kids to keep their backpacks. We were able to create a mudroom in our home (see the renovation here, complete with a fun chalk wall!), but even if you simply place a chair in your entryway as your “backpack spot”, that will do the trick! Our girls are also expected to unload their bags (I don’t need to go fishing for their lunchboxes each night – I ask them to bring them to the kitchen for me), and then they also pack up their bags each morning. When you have a set routine like this, it helps the whole family stay more organized – and it’s always great to start teaching your kids young to be responsible for their own things.
10. LABEL TOY BINS WITH PICTURES TO HELP NON-READERS
Among the 100+ organizing tips I share in this popular post, this toy bin tip is one of my favorites! I created some labels with pictures to help my kids put their toys away in the right spot – even the non-readers could just follow the pictures. I’m far from the “neat-police” when it comes to toys (I want them to be having fun!), but when the toys get completely mixed up, it makes it hard for the kids to play when pieces are missing, etc. This picture system has made a world of difference in our house – they can find what they need now (well, most of the time, anyway!).
Find the labels I created here for easy printing. (Keep in mind that I have four girls, but we do have a “trains” label and a few others that might work in a house of boys as well!)
I hope you’re on your way to feeling more organized around your house in no time – and that your kids are soon feeling proud and more self-sufficient as well!
Until next time,