Tired of cleaning up after your little monster one? Can’t deal with the chaos of their bedroom? Have they forgotten to pass on a school notice about another head lice epidemic?
We hear you.
Children need a little help when it comes to keeping on top of tasks and getting stuff done. But you can teach kids to be more organised. And you probably should – even if just for your sanity’s sake.
The thought of your child becoming organised and tidy may seem impossible. But so did the idea of Chandler and Monica ending up together, and that happened. You can help your kids stay on top of school projects and household chores with a few clever tricks.
We can’t promise your kid will always remember to hang their towel up. Or that you won’t find a rotten apple in their bag from time to time. But we can give you some tips for improving their organisation skills. All you need are a few management strategies, a little bit of patience, and perhaps some wine along the way.
Checklists are a great way to remind your child of the daily tasks they need to complete. A physical list also keeps kids more accountable than a verbal list they’re sure to forget.
Does your kid forget to finish homework? Or do they leave permission slips in the bottom of their schoolbag until it’s too late? Having a checklist or schedule to refer to will remind them of all the little daily things they need to do that can easily slip their mind (and yours!).
You might like to keep a copy of a checklist or schedule on their bedroom door and inside the front cover of their school diary. Here’s a simple template you can personalise for your child:
|Make bed||Bring belongings home (e.g. hat and lunchbox)||Dinner|
|Get dressed||Give mum/dad any notes from school||Put school clothes in laundry basket|
|Pack schoolbooks and lunch||Give mum/dad any lunch you didn’t eat||Shower and pyjamas|
|Eat breakfast||Do homework||Brush teeth|
|Brush teeth||Pack away toys or crafts after playing||Bed|
Bonus tip: Let your child write their own checklists, either with your approval or under your supervision. This will help them develop this fundamental skill. In addition to the day-to-day type of checklist above, also encourage them to map out lists for specific events and activities (e.g. when packing for a sleepover or working on a large school project).
Create a Cleaning Schedule
Kids respond well to routine (and bribery). By creating a weekly cleaning schedule, your little one will know what’s expected of them each week and won’t throw a tantrum be disappointed when an impromptu chore interrupts their afternoon watching SpongeBob (or whatever it is kids watch these days).
By displaying the cleaning schedule in their bedroom or playroom, you can remind them of their responsibilities around the house and create a routine. Your schedule might* look a little something like this:
|Morning||Make bed||Make bed & unpack dishwasher||Make bed||Make bed & unpack dishwasher||Make bed||Make bed & tidy room||Make bed|
|Lunchtime||School||School||School||School||School||Help prepare lunch||Help prepare lunch|
|Afternoon||Put dirty clothes in the laundry||Pack away toys||Load dishwasher||Put dirty clothes in the laundry||Pack away toys||Bring in the washing||Wipe the bathroom vanity|
*Or it might look nothing like this. We don’t know your kids or your life. But feel free to use this as a template if it works for you.
Multiple children? No worries. You’ll need an extra column for each day of the week for every +1. The schedule might get a bit complicated for larger families, but just think of the colour-coding opportunities! Everyone loves colour coding.
Bonus tip: Tidying is easier when you have nifty ways to store your stuff around the house. Discover our 35 favourite storage hacks for some inspiration – your kids will love having a pegboard or a wall desk or picture-labelled toy boxes.
Make It Fun
Being organised and staying focused on boring obligations is hard enough as an adult – just imagine how tough it is for your little one. Help motivate your child to get things done by making things fun.
“I finish my homework so I can play, but not before I put the dishes away!”
OK, that’s pretty bad. We’re sure you can come up with something better, but you get the idea. Not only is rhyming fun; it can also help little ones remember the tasks at hand. Just don’t go trying to rhyme “duck” unless you want to give a time-out.
Beat the Buzzer
Turn chores into a game by challenging your child to finish a task before the buzzer on your kitchen timer or phone goes off. This works just as well with music – have them clean their room before their favourite song finishes, and see just how quickly those toys and clothes get packed away. Singing is encouraged.
Good Old-Fashioned Bribery
You know the drill: if they don’t help pack the dishwasher, they don’t get dessert. Simple but effective.
True, your kid might never be super organised and on the ball every single day. (Who is? Adult-ing sucks.) But you’ll see some progress if you use a few tricks to help improve their organisation. If nothing else, you can at least take advantage of their tiny hands to get the bits of food that have fallen beside the oven. You’re welcome.
Next time you visit your self-storage unit, take your kids with you and teach them about keeping things you only need occasionally safe and out of the way.