This guest post was written by Certified Professional Organizer® Tiffany Engler – St. Louis, Missouri – www.yourlifeorganizedstl.com.
Now that the kids are home from school, there is no better time than now to help them organize their room. Teaching your children how to organize, sort, categorize, make decisions and put their stuff away are huge life skills that will help them for the rest of their lives. Here are some tips to get you started.
KNOW YOURSELF. Before you ever dig in, ask yourself a few questions. Am I a morning or afternoon person? Do I have a short attention span or could I do the same thing for hours? Do I work better with a friend or alone? Your answers will help you determine what part of the day you should organize, for how long and whether to have a friend or professional present. The key is to set yourself up for success.
SORT. Clear off a tabletop or floor to use as your work space, then take a box of toys and begin sorting and categorizing. You may not know what every piece is, so have your kids help you. Pictured here is an example of the sorting process.
Here are some of the more common categories:
• Missing Pieces (place missing pieces here then review at the end of the project)
• Baby Clothes
• Action Figures
• Small Electronics
LET GO. Once you have your items sorted, work with you children to decided which ones he/she would like to keep and which ones can be given to charity. Tell them that their toys will be going to children who don’t have as much as they do and work with them through this process. For some children this will be much harder than others and you may have to do some part of this without their presence.
NOTE: If your child is having a hard time parting with his/her toys, consider reading the book Too Many Toys written by David Shannon. The book begins with a boy named Spencer trying to pursue his mom to keep all his toys and ends with a great life lesson learned.
CREATE HOMES. Now that you have sorted most of the toys and boxed or bagged the ones you don’t want, you can put them away, or as I like to call it, “Create Homes.” I suggest using something like a 12-bin toy organizer or cube shelves or shelves and containers to hold the toys (all shown here). These items can be purchased at most retail stores. Remember to leave space for new toys. If you have too many toys for the space get more shelves, let more go, or store them somewhere else in your home. Many of my clients actually have two spots for toys and every 6 months or so they swap toys.
LABEL. Have fun labeling the containers. I love using hang tags. They can be purchased at many craft stores or online at http://www.thecabingal.com/tags.html. When labeling, use words for older children and words and pictures for younger children. Cut out photos from magazines or print them from the internet. The idea is for your children to associate the photo with the word. Labeling will help your children keep their space organized.
REWARD. Teach your children how to put things away when they are done playing. Give them rewards when they keep up with the organization. Every child as their own currency. One might be motivated by money, one might be motivated by Chuck-E-Cheese and one might be motivated by a sticker. Either way, find out what it is and use it.
NEW TOYS. And finally, help your children create “new homes” for the new toys that come into their life. Often times kids don’t put things away because they don’t know where to put it.
Tiffany Engler is owner of Your Life Organized, LLC – a Professional Organizing Company based in the greater St. Louis, Missouri area. Your Life Organized specializes in basements, garages, downsizing, entire home transformations, team organizing and yard sales. Tiffany is one of few organizers in Missouri Certified and President of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) – St. Louis Chapter. She is also a Certified FreedomFiler® Consultant, a member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and International Coach Federation. Tiffany is also a graduate of the Coach Approach for Organizers Foundation Courses and trained to coach her clients through organizing challenges. Tiffany knows firsthand what it is like to be a caregiver and would be honored to help anyone going through this difficult transition. For more organizing tips be sure to visit her website at www.yourlifeorganizedstl.com.