Being a parent and keeping the house organized seem like contradictory tasks. Kids can be like little tornados with short attention spans, going from one activity to the next and leaving a path of destruction in their wake. So whether it’s the entire house, their bedroom, or simply a bathroom drawer, a little help organizing these areas is always appreciated. But if you have to pull teeth to get kids to help out, chances are they’re not contributing much.
Making it fun for kids to help organize can be a game-changer, though—especially if you’re all organizing together. And once they see the result of their hard work, you may never have to ask them again. Here are our tips on making organizing fun for your kids so you can enjoy a clean and tidy house.
Organizing won’t be easy for anyone if they don’t know where things go. Before you start organizing, provide the kids with specific instructions for what they’re supposed to organize and where they’re supposed to put things. Don’t make it overwhelming and complicated. If it’s a big project, take it one step at a time. For example, if it’s the playroom in the basement, and toys and books are everywhere, start with either the toys or the books, not both. It will be less overwhelming for kids if they can focus on one thing at a time. And make sure there’s room for all the toys. Canvas storage bins labeled with what items should go in them should help, whether it’s books, toys, or even school supplies. You can label canvas bins however you want, and they look good in any room.
While you’re organizing, playing music can make the time go by a bit quicker, and it can make sorting and cleaning more fun. You can even play the part of a DJ, taking song requests from the kids. Make it more interesting by timing the kids, saying you want a certain area of a room cleaned by the time the song is over. If that’s not enough motivation, maybe reward them with a piece of candy or an extra few minutes of screen time if they win.
It’s great when kids are able to put things away where they belong, but sometimes the way they place things can leave a bit to be desired. For example, they might put their books away on a bookshelf, but when done in a hurry, that bookshelf can look disastrous with books placed upside down and backward or sorted awkwardly. Instead, try telling them to organize things by color or size. With the bookcase, for example, they can organize books from tallest to shortest or by color. The same can be done with certain toys. If you know this won’t work with your kids, or if you know that as soon as you organize things, they’ll look chaotic again within days, feel free just to let them place items in an attractive seagrass basket. These organizers look pretty, they’re sturdy, and they hide whatever’s inside nicely.
Even easier than sorting things is to get rid of them entirely! Whether toys or clothes, try letting your kids choose which items can stay and which can go. This might be tough for them, especially for little kids, but you can make it easier by explaining that other kids need those items. Then, have an empty laundry hamper available for them to toss in whatever they don’t wear or play with anymore. Many places accept donated goods without even needing them to be sorted, so you shouldn’t even have to worry about sorting toys separately from clothes. They’ll be happy to receive anything that’s in good condition and clean.
It’s incredible how crowded closets can get from one season to the next. If you’re finding that you can’t find a coat or jacket because everything is stuffed in too tightly, it’s time to clean it out so you can find what you need when you need it. Surprisingly, one of the best ways to clean out a closet is to get everyone involved and completely empty it from top to bottom. Keep a laundry bin or plastic garbage bags nearby that everyone can use to toss in what they no longer wear or need. Those items can be donated, while the remaining items can go back into the closet, where they’re organized by family member. For example, kids’ coats can go on a lower rack, while adult coats can be hung higher.
Getting kids to help you organize once is great, but getting them to keep doing it going forward is even better. Rewarding them is a great way to let them know that you appreciate what they’re doing while also encouraging them to keep doing it. There are two ways to go about this. One way is to reward them weekly by looking at their room and seeing how clean they’ve been able to keep it. Or, if your kids can’t seem to keep their room organized, you can instead reward them each time they make an effort to clean up. If you want to make organizing fun for your kids, think about what motivates them and incorporate those things into your organization's sprints. There’s no reason to do it all yourself!