Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Friday, September 21, 2007

Guidelines for Organizing/Cleaning with the Family

I get asked a lot about how to keep a family organized when you yourself are organized, but they aren't. Some find it especially difficult when ornery teenagers or young kids are part of the household. You may have read a few of these ideas in my blog before, but they bear repeating.

  • Adjust your attitude. If you hate housework, chances are you will teach your children to hate it as well. If your child only sees Mom cleaning, they may pick up the idea that it is women’s work. Be matter-of-fact. Cleaning up is not a punishment but a part of taking care of ourselves and our things. Give everyone household tasks as soon as they are old enough. Rather than call them chores, call them jobs.

  • Recognize that people often slide into agreements about who does what household tasks. They often resent what they “slid” into. Have conversations with the family about who is responsible for household tasks.

  • Have patience & refrain from cleaning up for your children. It may take them some time to pick up put allow cleanup/put-away time at the end of activities. This helps them build useful lifetime habits & develop self-reliance.

  • Once you assign a task, let your child decide how to get it done (within reasons). Let things go even if they’re not perfect – you can work on the finessing later.

  • Don’t just say, “Go clean your room”. Kids need specific directions and, depending on their age, don’t automatically remember or know where things go. Use a timer to motivate them & give them parameters.

  • Try having predetermined clean-up times. For example, the kids' bathroom floor & counter need to be cleared off every Saturday by noon. Or kids have to do a round-up of all their stuff just before bedtime; give your family a warning that you’ll be coming around to collect anything on the floor. Any items on the floor go into a bag & don’t get returned until whatever plan you’ve devised for getting back the confiscated items.

  • Model your standards. Children learn more from what you do than from what you say. And if you expect little from children, that’s what you’re going to get.

  • Think long-term. Often the thing we do as parents to make the situation better is based on short-term thinking (just stop the behavior, the crying, the whining, etc.). Ask yourself, will this help my child to become a self-sufficient older child/teen/adult?

  • Implement the following policies:
    – If you put it on the floor, pick it up.
    – If you take it off, hang it up.
    – If you use it, clean it up.
    – If you take it out, put it back.
    – If you open it, close it.
    – If you put it on the floor, pick it up.
    – If you take it off, hang it up.
    – If you use it, clean it up.