…and how YOUR kids can learn it, too!

7 tips from a professional organizer and KonMari Consultant

„My kids never tidy up!“ „My son always leaves the house in a mess!“ „My daughter does not want to keep her room in order!“ These are just some oft he things I very often get to hear from desperate parents. It seems to be a fact:

Kids do not want to tidy up. Kids never tidy up. Wherer there are kids, there is chaos.

Of course, this is a quite general statement. Provocatively simplified. But in my opinion, you can’t generalize this. Very often, the circumstances make it harder for the kids to tidy up. Sometimes there are not enough possibilities, or the settings of the room make it harder. 

But let’s start at the beginning. I will tell you how we do it in our home. My kids are both pre-school age, 2,5 and 5 years old as this article is written. They go to daycare. And they are pretty good at tidying up.

And this is how we keep our house in order:

When we come home and enter the house, first the kids take of their jackets, shoes, and potentially rain- or snowwear. They put their backpacks on the floor in the hall for a minute. Then, I kindly and matter-of-factly remind them to put their shoes into the shoe cabinet, hats on a hook, jackets and rain pants on the wardrobe. Then, they open and empty their backpacks, bring the lunchboxes and water bottles to the kitchen, and hang the packs on a hook in their room. And then, off you go and wash your hands!

So we successfully overcame the first hurdle.

There are plenty of different situations where the house gets chaotic, daily. That’s the way it has to be with kids  – no one wants a sterile childhood. Extensive arts and crafts session, a huge fire in the toy zoo, car races, building towers, pillow fights. They all lead to chaos, messiness, and leave your home in shambles.

But. At the end of each day, there’s dinner. And before dinner, we tidy up together. Always. Ok, there are teeny tiny exceptions on birthdays, when someone is sick or if it has gotten extremely late. But this rarely happens. So, again, a kind reminder: Dinner will  be ready soon, please tidy up! Mama helps, more symbolically, to show them it’s not a punishment. And after dinner, everyone puts their plate in the sink. Just like they do at daycare.

Together, tidying is so much more fun.

Over time, we have figured out some requirements and basic rules which I list here for you:

Tidying is child’s play

1. Accessibility

It is so simple, but sometimes we just don’t think about it. Kids can only tidy what they can reach. They don’t have access to an adult wardrobe, so their jackets will land on the floor. When you have a wardrobe or hooks at their height, hanging it is easy.
Should you put the Lego in a heavy box that sits on top of a high shelf, or is there a lighter box in kids’ height? Bookshelves high on the wall or on eye level? Pens somewhere in the left corner of the drawer under the paper or easy to grab in a cup or box on the desk? Try to see it from your kid’s eyes. Height, weight, and size as well as being easy to reach are key.

2. Distinguishability, visibility, logical order

From the age of about 3,5 years you can work together with your child to decide on where things should go. Containers can be labeled with symbols or photos and later with text so they know what belongs where.

No hidden things, so there shouldn’t be any big stacks in drawers, or double rows in bookshelves. Everything they own should be visible and accessible, when they open a closet or drawer. That makes putting thins back easier, too.

Everyone has their own logic when it comes to order. A rock that you would put in with the rock collection might, from your child’s view, be a secret treasure that belongs into the treasure chest. So, when you work on establishing a basic order in the kid’s room, allow your child to apply their own logic, if possible.

Everything has its home!

3. Routines and Rituals

It may sound banal, and I am no parenting expert. But we are pretty happy with our routines and rituals, and they work well. For us, these are the ones mentioned above – undressing and putting things back, tidying up before eating, and one more: If the kids don’t play or use something, they have to put it back before starting with something new. That might sound very strict, but with only 65 sqm and 4 people it doesn’t only save Mama’s sanity. It helps to avoid a huge tidying session. Small tidying moments throughout the day are m          uch more pleasant than facing a huge amount of clutter scattered throughout the house at the end of a long day.

4. Objectivity, Kindness, and Support

As I mentioned above: When it comes tot he subject of tidying, it is very important to stay matter-of-factly and friendly. Remind your kids of tidying. Don’t rant or threaten. Show them that it’s not hard. Chime in with the tidying – you’re not supposed to do it alone, but show them that it is easy and that you help with it, too. It will take a while until the routines have become, well, routines, but when you are prepared to help from time to time, it is much more relaxed for everyone.

5. Role model

One very important factor in the learning process is fort he kids to see and experience, that you tidy up and keep the house in order, too. When kids see that Mum and Dad can’t get it done, they wonder why they are supposed to accomplish something their parents don’t.

I personally also have my routines: I have a regular cleaning day, laundry day, I clean up the table after dinner before I sit down on the couch and so on.

6. Less is more

A pretty simple idea, one should think: The less toys and stuff you and your kids own, the less you have to tidy up. And take care of, and maintain, and repair, and store, and get rid of in the end maybe. Let’s start by going through their things with your kids, and pick out things that are:

  • Broken beyond repair
  • Not age-appropriate anymore
  • Not sparking joy for them anymore.

Everything that they keep will be arranged neatly and visible. And now it’s your turn: Stop the inflow! Relatives, friends, acquaintances, daycare, school, things enter your home from everywhere. Ask for meaningful gifts: Things your kids really need. Consumable material such as pencils, chalk, or play dough. Eating ice-cream with their aunt. Making pizza with their best friend. Gift certificates for a zoo, the movies, or a kid’s theater. I have listed some more ideas here.

Set a limit: one „treasure drawer“ (treasures for the kids…might seem like junk to you…) for example is ok. Once it’s full and something else is supposed to go in it, it needs to be decluttered. One portfolio for drawings can stay, the rest of your kid’s art will be photographed and then let go.

7. You don’t have to buy your kids everything!

Love doesn’t mean collecting things. Rather spend more quality time with your kids. Do something you all enjoy. Collect memories. That is what they will remember later, what stays with them. There’s a great article about that here.

If you think, right, but how am I supposed to get to that basic structure in my home? Or, your kid’s room is kinda okay, but you are drowning in chaos in the living room, then give me a call or send me a message. I will help you to find individual solutions for your home!

My name is Susanne Gaspar and I am a certified KonMari Consultant and Professional Organizer. I help the overwhelmed to let go of their clutter and live the life they deserve.

Kontaktiere mich für ein kostenloses Erstgespräch!

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