Living in disarray can cloud your thoughts, suck up your time, and psychologically wear you down. People who stay organized spend less money, live more productive lives, are generally healthier, and are more successful in life. Teaching your children to be organized from an early age can benefit them in many ways.
Learning to organize is also about learning to prioritize. If you can teach your children to prioritize, then you are also teaching them to be flexible and efficient. Simply saying "clean your room" is rarely successful. This is because cleaning things up, organizing them, and doing it efficiently are learned skills. If you don't take the time to teach kids how to do these things, then it will always be an uphill battle for you as a parent, and a dreaded task for your children.
There are some creative ways to help your children learn how to prioritize and organize their rooms. A good way to keep them motivated and on task, instead of staring at the huge mess and complaining, is to create some small games with small goals to play with them.
A good place to start is with the "big things" in the room. Have a race with the clock to see how many big things you and your child can clean up in two minutes. You may be surprised what all gets done in that two minutes. Then go for something else, like clothes. Pick up dirty clothes and get them into the laundry basket or hamper. If your child isn't keen on racing the clock, try for "making goals" in the basket. Let them see how many baskets they can make from the chair, the bed, or the closet. You can even toss the clothes to them to keep them going.
Look around the room after each activity and think out loud. Say things like, "Let's see. What's the biggest thing that we need to take care of?" This technique will teach your child to prioritize what is most important so that cleaning will be quick and efficiently done. Next, try to divide what's left into piles. Make a game of who can divide their "junk pile" into organized stacks first. Blocks, cars, baby dolls, action figures, game pieces, and other categories can be made. Try not to make it too detailed or you might lose them.
Next talk about where everything can go. "This pile is small. Let's put it into this basket. Should we put it in the closet so that your little brother doesn't accidentally lose the pieces?" Let your child decide where things should go and point out reasons why that is a good idea. Keep in mind that you're teaching them how to "think" organized. Let them know why you chose infant hangers for their smaller shirts and children's hangers for the larger ones. Tell them about how the smaller ones are safer for their clothes and easier for them to handle. Mention that hanging their clothes on baby hangers takes up less space and leaves room for toys to be stored in the closet.
The skills that your child learns will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Learning how to stay organized isn't quite as easy as it sounds, but starting early in life can make it become second nature to your child.
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