Lisa Hess details 5 tips for helping kids choose organizing tools they'll actually use.
Once upon a time, I had to change offices at work. I wasn't happy about it but opted to make lemonade out of lemons and use the move as an impetus to get organized. I read, I watched HGTV, and I tried out tools. I got so excited by what I was doing and the ideas I was coming up with that I decided to share all of it with my then-clientele, elementary school kids.
And Organizing by STYLE was born.
These days, I write about organizing by STYLE mostly for an adult audience, so it's easy to forget that all of this had its beginnings in my office -- literally -- with style names created for the under-12 set. And, although it transfers well to adults who are motivated to clean up their (our) act, organizing by STYLE works for kids, too.
Well, as with adults, it helps to start with the styles. If you live with kids, you've probably already figured out their styles, but if you want to loop them in and encourage them take control of their own stuff, you might want to go through the styles quiz with them to help them discover their own styles. Chances are they won't be surprised but naming their personal and organizational styles is the first step to helping them choose tools they might actually use. With your help, they can select the organizers that work for them, which increases the chances that things might actually get put where they belong.
5 guidelines that often work when organizing with kids
- Make it clear. Even if your child's personal style isn't I need to see it, clear bins and drawers might just reduce the number of times you hear, "Mom, I can't find my...."
- Go topless. While it's true that lids hide clutter, they can also be a barrier to putting things away. If something as simple as leaving the hamper open can increase the number of dirty clothes that make it to their destination, imagine what a few open bins can do.
- Make it pretty ... or fun ... or both. Organizing and cleaning is a chore, especially when you’re a kid. While the visual appeal of a tool has little bearing on its functionality, I believe we're more likely to use something we like and/or something that adds a bit of whimsy to our organizing.
- Be flexible ... especially if your child has a tendency to cram and jam. Fabric bins without lids are a lot more forgiving than plastic bins with lids -- and therefore likely to lead to more things in the container and fewer things on the floor.
- Keep it simple -- to one step, if possible. The more steps it has, the more time it takes and the less likely it is that the process will be followed through to the end.
As with adults, one size won't fit all kids and it's likely to take time, trial and error to get things to the point where they're running smoothly. With kids, as with adults, it's a process, but one well worth the time we spend.
Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess
Image: Pixabay (2018)
About the Author
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Lisa’s latest book is the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.