Cary Farrell

Summer organizing with kids

by Cary Farrell
July 22, 2019
Summer is a great time to include the kids in your de-cluttering and organizing.  Many parents work hard to find lots of educational and fun camps for their kids for the summer.  But your home can be a great educational camp that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and will make going back to school a smoother process.
One skill that is not taught in the classroom but is a vital part of your kid’s lives is personal space management and home maintenance.  If you are cleaning your kid’s rooms for them or just letting their rooms go, you are robbing them of the opportunity to learn these skills.  Our job as parents is to train our kids to govern themselves responsibly and we need to begin early, allowing them time and guidance to practice those skills.  However, I am in many homes where the parents have “over-loved” their kids and their rooms look like mini clothing stores and Toys R Us!  If you have over-loved your kids, then you need to apologize and be realistic about how much they can maintain.  Don’t expect your kids to clean up something that overwhelms you!
Plan a camp week at home to get your kid’s rooms in a manageable state.  Break the room into zones and do a little bit each day with a craft or activity planned after the day’s work is done.  Here are some zone suggestions: clothes, toys & games, and memorabilia.  Only tackle one zone a day to keep them from being overwhelmed.  Encourage your kids to choose their favorite items from each zone and put those away in the easiest accessible areas (prime real estate). If you are not sure how many favorites to keep out, use the age of your child as a guide.  For example, if they are five years old then they can have five stuffed animals, five games, five toys or groups of toys, etc.  As they show ability to maintain each zone, then you can always add more back in.  Once they have all their favorites put away, they can help you make decisions on what gets packed away for toy/game rotation, saved for a sibling, or passed on to the thrift store.  Your children should not have to spend more than 10 minutes a day cleaning up their room.  Make sure they have a small trashcan, a laundry basket, drawers and organizing bins that they can manage, and.a bed they can easily make.  
To make it even more fun for the kids, make or purchase (check out one of my favorites: “I did my chores” Item #0303 at a simple daily chore chart  that they can check off each day as they complete their tasks and work toward a fun activity or item to use in their room. Chore charts work beautifully to decrease stress at home and to create the teamwork effect that you want to foster in your family.  Our kids need to know that they are an important part of the family team that works together for the whole. 

My kids would complain about having to do chores that their friends did not have to do but as they grew up they realized that they had learned skills that their friends were missing and they were thankful that they had learned them.  One daughter took a homemade lunch to college one day and her fellow students wanted to know where she had bought that. She proudly stated that she had made it herself.  She had not been happy as a teenager having to grocery shop and cook for the family but she realized that day that she had learned an important skill that not everyone receives.  
Most parents would not even think of throwing their child into the deep end of the pool without swim lessons, but many parents send their kids off to college with no lessons in personal or home management! Start today teaching your kids these life skills and you will send your young adults off to college with the confidence that they can take care of themselves because they have learned and practiced the necessary skills. If you haven’t learned these life skills for yourself, seek help and learn along with your kids!