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Nancy Collins

Professional Organizer

Kids and Their Stuff….
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Don't be afraid. Nancy can help create more calm and less chaos.

Kids Organizing tips

(or Quit Barking at Your kids to Clean up)


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e always thought that our home should be a place where my kids could play happily with their friends and siblings, and then at the end of the day just like in the Snow white Movie a little song and they would cheerfully clean up…then I actually HAD kids, LOL. I help a lot of busy moms organize their kids playrooms and bedrooms, and I tell them I get it. In our family we went through the Lego Stage AND the Barbie shoe stage. We quickly learned not to walk barefoot in their play areas.

Face it, we are in a different season now and our kids are just flat home a lot more. To top it off they might be missing their friends because they are not at school as much, and if your kids are doing more schooling via zoom, it’s just rough. Here we are trying to teach them to navigate life and become responsible, and we are not sure WE are able to do that right now, are you with me?

Kids, just like adults, need to develop an eye for organizing, and simple skills to keep it that way. Let’s look at a couple of tips to help get their spaces organized and keep it that way as much as possible. A little less chaos might be just what we all need right now.

First, let’s look at a couple of reasons WHY kids are struggling with getting it together right now:

1. Life is too busy. I have been down this road, both as a kid and teen myself and definitely with my kids. Even with Pandemic, they are zooming all the time with school, maybe doing online lessons and classes for other activities. If you are fortunate enough for your kids to be able to go places, they may be in sports or piano lessons, yada yada…or maybe YOU are the one who is too busy balancing work at home and family. The pandemic has altered everybody’s routines. Can you scale back a little?

2. Lack of supervision. Most kids will not scurry to their rooms and clean efficiently if a parent barks, “Clean your room!” Hahaha….they nee a little more direction than that. They need to know what that actually looks like and what the expectations are.

3. Your child is totally distracted. Are constantly reminding kids to focus, focus, focus. Why? Because they may be doing a chore, but they’re not focused on doing a great job. Teach them that this actually makes it more difficult because they have to do it over…the trick here is to break th tasks down into manageable bites.

4. Too much junk. Monthly purge gets it done. Broken toys, missing pieces, outgrown things…10 minutes a month is way easier than 2 hours a year. Kids have trouble, um.. shall we say disengaging from their toys? Here’s a great idea: SWITCHEROO! Rotate toys into a bin—5 or 6 toys in a bin that goes in the garage or another room, with the promise they can get it back out in a month. Next month rotate different toys into the switcheroo bin. Pick a number. Decide on the number of toys your child will be allowed to have in his room. Maybe a decent number like 10 or 15 is what they get to keep each month.. Specialty sets like building blocks or play dough sets count as one. Each stuffed animal or individual toy counts as one. Make sense? Then when the switcheroo box comes out every month it’s like Christmas!

5. No storage space. It’s frustrating for anyone to be told to clean up when there is really no place for items to go. Make sure your child has adequate storage space for clothing, shoes, books and toys. This is where an organizer can help. We are adept at creating space, LOL.

6. Create ZONES for their stuff. This is a game changer. Create “zones” for different categories. When I do a playroom or kids room I create zones for the different toys, then label the zones (make cute signs with pictures if they are small, words if they can read). I then give the kids a TOUR of their zones. Then I ask them to give me a tour of their zones. Then I ask them to give another family member a tour of their zones, all while I am still there. By the third time they usually have it down. And then when it’s time to straighten up I call it “zone defense” if it’s boys and “zone cleanup” if it’s girls.

These tips are meant to help you keep a calm organized kids area. And can’t we all use a little calm right now? Create ownership with them, and give them a reason to be proud of maintaining it. “Caught being goods” worked well in our home. Of course we can help any time you need a little encouragement.

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