Organizing with Your Kids: How do you persuade kids that it is worth being organized?
Before we get to the blog post, I have something exciting to share. You may have noticed that there's a lot going on this week! It’s a new month…so there’s a new checklist. There’s a new workshop and a new instructor. And just when you thought I was done with all the new stuff…I’ve got something else new to share. Okay, I should really say I’ve got someone else new to share with you…and I couldn’t be more excited! Please meet Jennifer McClure.
Jennifer is the newest addition to the simplify 101 team. She joined us earlier this month as our marketing + content coordinator. Part of Jennifer’s role on the team is to contribute to the Creative Organizing blog! I’m beyond thrilled to have Jennifer’s fresh ideas, energy and talents—on the blog and elsewhere at simplify 101. Jennifer is the mom of two school-aged girls, and in her first post she shares first-hand how she has started answering the question “How do you persuade kids that it is worth being organized.” An answer Jennifer found lies in tapping into the other things your kids are naturally interested in. But…I’ll let Jennifer share all of that with you. Please join me in welcoming Jennifer to simplify 101!
It isn’t for lack of interest in being organized, I am sure of that. I actually think that she is a naturally organized person, if that’s even something you can truly assess at age 8. Yet time and again we are both completely overwhelmed when room-cleaning day rolls around. Every flat surface is covered in stuff, and the perimeter of her room is lined with piles. Neat piles that don’t bother her, mind you, but piles and piles nonetheless. She doesn’t know where to begin, and frankly, how could she? The chaos that is her bedroom is enough to make a grown mama cry.
I’ve helped, cajoled, offered advice, given suggestions. Some of it has been well received. She did embrace the concept of labeling, and now her storage cubbies are set aside for things like “piggy bank” and “tomorrow’s jewelry.” But unfortunately for us both, most of my sage words have met obstinate refusal. (Ah, that’s my fiercely independent eldest daughter, Joy.)
So you might imagine how an American Girl book entitled Clutter Control: Tips and Crafts to Organize Your Bedroom, Backpack, Locker, Life would catch my eye, yes? After a quick thumb-through, I felt it would be well worth $8.95. “Hmmm, this looks kind of cool,” I quietly mused as I thumbed through it. This quickly caught Joy's attention as this was a perfect storm of her interests... books + American Girl = Hello! I let her take a peak and within moments she was asking if I would please, please, please buy it for her. “Well,” I said, “let’s see.” Respectable pause here. “OK, I guess if you really think you would like to try out these tips, we can get the book.” (Ha! I love having these clever, stealthy parenting moments, don’t you?)
Joy loves the book, particularly the fun, colorful labels supplied in the back. She excitedly asked her teacher on the first day of school if she could affix the “Take Me Home” label to her folder.
She loves that the book instructs her to focus on one area at a time, and her desk is an area she has been able to maintain pretty well. She loves… get ready… using a binder for her papers. I bought the girl a pretty binder and a pink 3-hole-punch, and she was over the moon!
She now has a paper management system of her own that actually works for her. Papers she wants to keep on display now hang from her new “gallery,” and other papers are either stored in the binder or recycled. Oh, thank you, American Girl! We may still have some cluttered surfaces and piles to sort through, but the few practices that she has already adopted are already paying dividends.
I’ve learned some things here, as well. Organizing can be fun, even for kids. The question is really how to make it fun. I used to try to set up tubs and challenge my girls to toss the toys into them. That could sometimes create a few moments of fun, but my girls aren’t very athletic. It didn’t hold their interest. So, now I feel like I am onto a couple things. 1) Things my kids are interested in can help inspire them, even in an area like being organized. 2) If it can be their idea, it’s infinitely more successful than something I am trying to force on them.
This weekend, I plan to mention all the cool things simplify 101 is going to do in the Organizing with Your Kids workshop that begins Sep. 6, 2011. I hope at least one of my children thinks this sounds like a fun thing to do with Mom and asks to sign up!