I found that once my children hit the 9-11 year old age range, organizing was a little bit easier. Not only can you rationalize with your children at this point, but you also can set basic expectations for how you keep your environment. Once a child hits double digits (and maybe even sooner), it is reasonable to ask and expect them to pick up their stuff and put it away on their own. The catch is that you have to have a system, or a home for everything so they know where to put it. Many of us used basket and bin systems in the very early years in our children’s rooms or the playroom just to keep the place orderly. Rarely can young kids maintain these systems. However, older children can and should be able to do so making your job a little bit easier.
My goal with these tips is to take something off your plate. If you can create the systems at home so others can keep your home like you want it kept – you won’t have to do it all the time! However, in order to make this happen, you must be willing to create the system, train all involved, and set the expectation that all maintain the system. Buy-in or willingness from all parties is a must. Many times we create the system and don’t tell anyone, of if we do tell them what we want, when they don’t do it we don’t follow up. The easier the system – the easier it is for all to keep.
#1 of 5 ways it is easier to organize as your children get older…
Designate “kid-free” common areas in your home. These are areas where your children ARE allowed, but their stuff cannot LIVE. These areas are for living in, but not for storing your children’s belongings. This automatically creates the appearance of a neater, more organized home.
When the children were little, you needed a basket for toys and a stash of diapers and wipes in every room, and a bag of snacks in every car or purse just in case. As your children get older those requirements change and there is generally less stuff that you have to keep within an arm’s length. They are able to walk into a playroom or their own bedroom to find their shoes, toys, school papers and other belongings.
I took great joy in creating areas in our home that did not have any kid related items in them. Our formal living room has always been my favorite room in a home and was the most obvious starting point for me. As my sons got older, the family room downstairs was my next space to outlaw storage of kid-stuff. I moved all the toys upstairs into the playroom and all of the other random items that I had stored downstairs because it was easier back into my sons’ rooms. They were welcome to bring them downstairs on any occasion, but had to take them back to their room when they were finished playing/using, etc. When they leave stuff sitting around, I either put it on the stairs for them to take up later or ask them to do it right then, and some days I am generous enough to do it myself. By creating a designated space in the appropriate room, putting everything away is fairly easy to do.
We have all been in and maybe even had ourselves a main room/common area that looked like a daycare center because we wanted to be able to keep an eye on our children while they were playing, or our home was limited in space and that was the only place for them to play. As our kids get older, those needs change, and so can your home. If you want a grown up looking home – create it.
So… if you haven’t already, look around your home. Do you have baskets of stuff in the corner of the room or in the cabinets that have been there for years and don’t need to be there? Does that stuff need to LIVE in that room? Can it live elsewhere? Do you have backpacks and stinky shoes right by the front door? Is there a better place for these so they don’t greet you when you come home? Maybe a basket of shoes is all you need and the books and backpacks can go into their room? Its up to you. Take some time to visualize what you want for yourself – then go create it. As always, I am happy to help. Contact me directly to set up a consultation.
Stay tuned for 7 more ways to organize your home.