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Marty Basher

Get Family Organized for the New School Year and All Year

Life will be so much easier this school year of distant learning and continued remote working if families get and dremain organized. I co-sign all of these tips from guest blogger Marty Basher, design expert with Modular Closets,https://www.modularclosets.com who explains how to get the entire family involved.

There’s nothing that promotes family unity more than both parents and kids sharing in household responsibilities. While it depends on the age and stage of the kids, here are a few tips that can help children learn to be more independent in their everyday lives while contributing to daily tasks.

Set expectations.

  • Even small children can learn to follow routines and do their ‘chores’. If anything, most kids thrive on a little routine. Figure out what they can manage in terms of household tasks, for their age, and set up a chart so they have a visual reminder. You can apply a rewards system for the reluctant helper, but ultimately, the goal is to get kids to understand that being part of a family means contributing to its well being.

Establish routines.

  • Getting kids to start to do the things you need them to do everyday is largely a matter of habit. If they get into the habit of hanging up their bookbags and coats when they walk in the door, rather than dumping them on the floor, over time you will have to remind them less and less until one day, they’re doing it all on their own! The key to that is adding some organization to the madness, which is addressed in the next point!
  • Some other routines that make a difference include: picking out clothes, making lunches and packing school bags the night before; putting all soiled clothes in a hamper; emptying out lunch bags in the kitchen and placing dirty cutlery or containers in the sink; putting all school related materials that you are meant to see in a designated ‘inbox’. By having designated spaces for items—hooks for hats and baskets for mittens in the entryway, for example—you can establish routines for ensuring that items get put away properly, rather than tossed willy nilly all over the house.

laundry detergent

Get organized.

  • In order to establish routines, it helps to be a little more organized so that everything that comes into the house has a home, and everyone in the house knows where to put things. An example that plagues many families: sports gear. If you have a designated storage space for each child—hooks, shelves, or even bins—to put sports bags and a laundry basket for soiled gear, all cleaned items can be returned to the appropriate storage area, so that they are always at the ready to be packed for practice. This all depends on how much space you have to work with, but a full closet isn’t always necessary: you could carve out a section of space in a mud room to accomplish the same thing. The key is that there is a designated spot for these items and everyone knows where that space is.

Establish a family center.

  • If you don’t want your kids asking what’s for lunch, or can you buy XYZ, or what’s for dinner, all the time, it’s a good idea to establish a family center. This is a spot, in the kitchen for example, where there is a board that shows everyone what’s going on in the family. I can include chore charts, a schedule of activities and appointments (monthly), a menu plan, a shopping list, as well as baskets for individuals to place important information, like school forms (see the point above on the ‘inbox’)! This way everyone has access to the information about who is where, who is doing what and what’s for dinner!
  • Speaking of organizing, playrooms and kids bedrooms can be a minefield, but you can make it easier for them to stay a little bit more organized, in age appropriate ways:
    • For small children, plastic bins with photos of what goes into each taped to the front makes it a lot easier for them to help with tidying the playroom. One for LEGO, one for dolls, one for trains… you get the “picture”!
    • Make sure that their closets are useful for their age. For example, having some hooks and baskets at a low level for a small child enables them to hang up their hat and put away their stuffies, while you put away items on hangers or in drawers. As they get older and taller, they can take over more and more of these tasks, getting into a solid habit of putting things away, rather than leaving them on the floor.

laundry detergent

    • A hammock in the corner makes a great stuffie holder and is easy for kids to see their ‘friends’ but keep them tidy. Another option is a hanging sweater organizer in the closet: for all the extras! Clear plastic shoe organizers that hang on the back of the door make use of a little used space, but are perfect for older kids and their collectibles, card collections, or even their supply of nail polish.

laundry detergent

    • Older children need aworkspace for schoolwork, as well as the supplies that go with that, so whether that’s in their bedroom, or in a den with a desk, make sure that each child has a way to store their materials, marked papers and so on. A shelf in a closet with a basket of their own makes perfect sense for this. Another great option is a rolling file folder / drawer unit, which they can move out of the way when it’s not in use.

      [COPY THESE HOMEWORK STATIONS]

    • Get into the habit of doing a seasonal switch, where out of season clothes are sorted (piles for those that need to be cleaned, repaired, handed down or tossed out) and the ones that are being kept or handed down get moved to a storage area—a closet in the basement or garage works well for this—so that only the items that are immediately useful are occupying space in the kid’s closet. It’s much easier to put things away if there is space to do so!
    • Finding furniture that serves double duty is a good way to maximize your storage.

laundry detergent

For example, a bench to sit on that also is a storage unit under the lid is perfect for toys that get less use, extra blankets or other things that you want to keep handy. Having these in other parts of the house also makes it easier for kids to get used to putting their things away in communal spaces. That way, the family living room doesn’t look like a toy store blew up in it at all times!

Good luck, parents!