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Simple Tips for Better Organization

Sometimes other families’ homes look so neat that we often wonder: “Do they really have kids?” “Do they spend all their time cleaning?”

Organized people typically have a place for everything, and more importantly, they actually put things back after they’ve used them and what’s really annoying is that they’ve taught their kids to do the same. Check out some of the secrets of organized parents:

Have a “when you come in the house” routine for you and the kids.
It’s much easier to be organized and stay organized when you make putting things in their place a priority and a habit. When you come in the house, put your things away as you go. Hang up your coat, put your keys in a special tray or on a hook, place your mail in the paper pile for later sorting, and designate a spot for your briefcase and/or purse.

Teach the kids to hang up their coats (you may have to install lower hooks for little ones), and throw gloves, hats, and other outerwear in their container (for more on individual containers, see below). Have them immediately take all the paperwork out of their backpack (you may have to do this for children three and under), and put their lunchbox, with the day’s uneaten food removed, away.

Have a small kid’s area in almost every room.
With the exception of perhaps the living room, dining room, and your bedroom, have a space for your children’s things in each room of the house. For the most clutter-free look, place the children’s toy box, shelves, or basket in a corner of the room nearest to the entry of the room. That way when you look into the den, for example, it looks clean because most of the children’s toys and games are tucked away in the corner. It doesn’t mean children don’t use the whole room when they’re actively engaged, but after play, their things go back into their area.

Use large baskets or other containers for “catch-alls” and quick clean-ups.
Have a toy basket in the kitchen for quick toy and book pick-up. Have a container for each member of the house in your entryway. They can dump their things there and you can use the containers to distribute miscellaneous items you find around the house to the correct family member. At the end of the day, everyone must clean out their box leaving only the things they will take with them in the morning. This also eliminates the never-ending question, “Do you know where my _________ is?” If someone left it lying around, they’ll most likely find it in their container. 7edc10193e3941929f380d0cfac3ea4c

Organizing Your Child’s Room
Take heart, disorganized parents—when it comes to children’s rooms, even the most organized parents may feel frustration. Why? Parents tend to want their children to organize and keep their rooms clean according to their rules. And that’s OK to a certain point, like no food allowed in your room (or at least your bed), make up your bed each morning, place dirty your clothes in the hamper, and put your toys away.

It’s often “How realistic are our expectations?” that may get in the way. Preschool children may not be tall enough to make their beds, and school-age children may not do it as neatly as we could. Help your children organize their room in a way that gives them lots of opportunity to be successful according to your “clean” expectations and allows for their own style and comfort. Try these ideas:

Throw out what you don’t use. Get rid of old toys, clothes, and clutter. Create a space for a few special, sentimental things.

Divide the room into areas. Make an area for books, one for toys, and another for writing or coloring.

Make clean up easier. Place a laundry basket, trashcan, shoe basket, and toy box in their room or closet. Children may not line up shoes in a closet or toys on a shelf until they are older school-age, but even little ones will toss things in a basket. For easier bed making, use a comforter instead of a bedspread on your child’s bed.

Have your child do a quick clean-up before bed. Make cleaning a habit by encouraging your child to do a quick pick up before bed. Have him lay out clothes for the next day.

Use child-height storage and shelving. Use the space on tall bookcases and shelves for displaying items or decoration. Have your children store the things they use on a regular basis in clear containers or bins on the floor.

Relax!
Organization is an important skill that children need to learn, but as long as there’s no mold or anything else growing in their room, a daily “pick-up” and a weekly “clean-up” should do it. Before you know it, they’ll be off to college.

Organizing: Worth the Effort?
We all want to create a home where we feel comfortable and relaxed, and every family has different definitions of clutter and clean. There’s probably some difference even between family members. How and what you organize is up to you, but getting organized should alleviate stress, not cause it. Sure, there will be some adjustment time if we are taking our family through an organizing transition, and most likely, some resistance from the troops. But some good organizational efforts should make our lives less hectic, and we could all use that!

Originally published on BrightHorizons.com

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