Do you wish your kids were more organized? Do you get frustrated trying to help them? I was curious how others taught and transferred organizing skills to their own children. So, I enlisted help from a wonderful group of colleagues (Stephanie Calahan, Leslie Josel, Helena Alkhas, Ellen Delap, Yota Schneider, Diana Quintana and Aby Garvey.) I asked them, “What organizing success strategy have you passed on to your children? How did you accomplish that?” Their responses are motivating and inspiring. My gratitude goes to each of them for sharing their personal stories with us. If you want your children to become more organized, keep reading to discover some kid-tested organizing success tips that might work for you.
What organizing success strategy have you passed on to your children? How did you accomplish that? . . .
“Ever since my son was small we have worked with him to understand how to take big projects and break them into simple doable steps. For example, cleaning his bathroom breaks down into gathering the supplies needed and then cleaning the mirror, counter, sink, tub/shower, toilet and floor. We did this by sitting with him and having him think through the steps and we'd fill in the blanks when he would get stuck. Now that he is twelve, we use the same strategy for his school and extra curricular activities. We found that by giving him the opportunity to think it through first, he is quite independent with most of his work and often gets it done ahead of schedule because he has thought through the variables.“
Stephanie LH Calahan – The Big Vision Catalyst, Business Strategist, Author and Producer
“The organizing success strategy that I’ve taught my children is to use external prompts to remind them of tasks or responsibilities they need to get done. So if they need to do homework, call a friend, walk the dog, put dinner in the oven, etc. They’ve been taught to set timers, phones, alarms, or use visual and written prompts. I started teaching them this strategy by asking them the question, “How are you going to remember to…” and having them work out the strategy that would best fit the task. It’s not enough to ask them to do something but ask them how they are going to remember or prompt themselves to do it.”
Leslie Josel – ADHD Specialist & Author
“I am a believer in having routines to structure our time, know what comes next and to be more productive. We have a clear routine that "guides" us through the day and the kids grew up with that. From the moment they wake up, through going to school and back, all the way to going to bed at night we follow a "self-care/school" checklist that helps them cross the dots of daily life and lets them know when is work time, when is play time. This also teaches them to be independent and to self-guide. As a parent it is my hope that this will stay with them and help them when they have to leave and be on their own.”
Helena Alkhas – Professional Organizer & Virtual Assistant
“My kids are amazing, organized parents! They are list makers with a family calendar in their kitchens. They organize not only their closets, but also their children’s clothes. Each has a file cabinet with easy access, simple filing. How did this happen? It’s all about talking the talk and walking the walk. Living in a home with organized parents created the expectation that organizing is an important life skill. We focused on strengths, talked about organizing, and down played perfectionism. They practiced as teens and young adults. Now as parents of young children they have created organizing solutions in their own homes.”
Ellen Delap, CPO® – Professional Organizer, Productivity Consultant & Family Manager Coach
“August is traditionally Back to School month and there's tremendous marketing pressure to get out there and buy. The girls, high school juniors, know that I'm not going Back to School shopping unless they've inventoried their closets and desks, assessed their needs and wants, and de-cluttered their space.
Piles of paper, old homework and folders head to the recycling bin, used up school supplies are thrown away, and clothes they've outgrown and are usable head to the donation pile. Next, they create a prioritized list of their needs and wants. I assure them that they'll always get what they need and occasionally what they want. What they’ve learned is that, in order to make room for the new, we simply have to let go of the old and outdated!"
Yota Schneider, Seasons of Change Certified Master Coach – Life Transitions Coach, Workshops & Retreat Facilitator, Blogger, & Mindfulness Meditation Practitioner
“There is a saying that goes like this: Don’t put it down, put it away. I used this saying over and over with my two boys. When they were very young I asked them to put something away when they were finished with it. This translated to games they were playing with when they were very young. As they grew older this saying could also be applied to things like clothes (in a laundry basket or hung up), dishes in the dishwasher, homework in the correct binder, and taking things they belonged to them back to their rooms.”
Diane N. Quintana, CPO®, CPO-CD® – Professional Organizer & Author
“By organizing and decluttering with my kids since they were very young, I've taught them how to let go of things they no longer use or love. For one of my kids, letting go didn't come easy. It required a lot of patience and a long-term focus on my part, as we spent hours going through her stuffed animals, clothing, toys, and books. I always let my kids make the decisions, and never let go of anything behind their backs. In the process, I've taught them that letting go is a natural part of life and maintained their trust.”
Aby Garvey – Professional Organizer, Author, & Online Class Instructor
I love this collection of strategies from my colleagues! As a parent with two daughters in college and beyond, I have spent a lot of time teaching them organizing skills. The investment was worthwhile. I marvel at how they’ve integrated those skills regularly and naturally into their lives. Here are some more articles about transferring organizing skills to our children:
Failing Your Way to Success by Linda Samuels
Moms’ “To Do” Lists by Linda Samuels
Cutting the Organizing Umbilical Cord by Leslie Josel
11 Tips to Conquer Your Child’s Clutter by Aby Garvey
Which organizing success tips resonate with you? Do you have additional ones to share? Come join the conversation.