Somehow it always happens that when I’m running late, my car keys are nowhere to be found. I race around looking for them. I check every coat pocket and counter and purse. But still nothing. The tension in my body rises as I look at the clock and see more minutes tick away. So, I decide to go throw my bag in the car while I retrace my steps. Then, lo and behold, there they are. Still in the car from last night. Phew.
But man, I wish I could have saved those precious minutes. And avoided that rise in blood pressure. What if things were more organized, easier to find? And then, I had a smoother time overall? What would I do with those extra minutes?
Staying organized is a skill and it takes practice. This is especially true for kids because those areas of the brain responsible for organization and planning are still developing. And for kids who feel more anxious or who get distracted more easily, staying organized can be tougher. In the moment, big emotions can interfere with the brain power needed for the skills to do that.
I have two tips for families who want to work on this skill (approved by my own kids). They’ll help reduce last-minute frustration and also help kids be more independent with fewer reminders from parents. It’s a win for everyone.
My 2 Tips to Help Kids Stay Organized:
- Put stuff together that goes together, in a place that makes sense and is easy to access. This works great for school stuff or extracurriculars. For example, my girls have kid-sized cubbies by our front door. There you’ll find their dance bags, pre-filled with everything they need for class: tap shoes, ballet slippers, leotard, tights, tutu, and sweatpants. There’s no last-minute running around for the missing ballet shoe. And they know where to go to get dressed for class. It’s the same for preschool. The school bag lives on a cubby hook, and inside there’s everything my daughter needs: an extra pair of clothes, a photo of our family, and her snack bag (usually clipped to the outside, so we remember to fill it before we leave).
- Use visuals as reminders whenever possible. Visuals are another great way to help kids become more independent with certain tasks. They also reduce the amount of directions you need to give your child. The plan or task is already laid out in a way they can understand. You can use visuals to keep kids doing a certain routine, like getting ready for bed. Just print out some pictures of things like a toothbrush, pajamas, and a book to help them remember the order and stay on track. Visuals are also great for keeping toys and belongings organized. In our house we have several of the Ikea trofast bins to separate toys. There’s a picture of the toy(s) that go in the bin on the outside. It makes clean-up a breeze and future playtime more kid-friendly.
If you’re interested in helping your kids learn organization, check out some of my favorite organization products here.