Kids seem to have a built-in talent for turning a home upside down. It can make keeping the place tidy feel impossible. You need some practical strategies and tactics to stay on top of things, so we’ve rounded up some good tips to help you get super-organised.
Have Daily Routines
Sticking to a routine gets easier with practice. Even those of us who like to think we’re not routine-bound have things we do at particular times every day. Teeth cleaning, showering, bed making, dinner or lunch times… they get fixed as routines without us even trying.
New routines and habits take time to establish but it’s worth persevering. Examples could be putting away one toy or activity before moving onto the next, with activities that have lots of different parts, such as painting or crafting, being prime examples. Make some routines time-specific, such as bedtime wind-downs and tidy-ups so all toys get put away before bath or story time. Use plenty of praise, encouragement and rewards so it feels more fun than chore.
Have Mini Clean Ups Through the Day
You can encourage everyone in the family to do their bit, which might be something as small as taking cups or plates to the kitchen after eating, or putting shoes and coats where they belong instead of leaving them lying around. Small tasks can have a big impact, such as cleaning the sink, shower or bath after using it or putting laundry in the laundry basket. Tidying as you go will keep you on top of little jobs that individually take just a few minutes.
Use Storage Effectively
Have designated storage areas around the house for books, toys, games, hobby gear, and other possessions. Use shelves, baskets, tubs, over-door organisers, shoe racks, coat pegs, peg boards and a multitude of other storage solutions to help corral possessions and keep them neat.
When space is limited, consider self storage solutions for the items you’re not using regularly. We all have stuff that’s out of use for part of the year, so why keep them at home? Think of sports gear, garden machines and furnishings, Christmas and other seasonal decorations, out of season clothing and footwear, outdoor play items or just toys that have temporarily fallen out of favour. Rotating stuff in and out of self storage according to the season can free up acres of space at home, making it much easier to keep the place tidy.
When several people with different interests or needs share a space, it can help keep things organised if you have activity zones. Make an office zone to help keep printer supplies or reference books and stationery in one place. Make a quiet zone away from the TV for reading or just as a bolt hole when you need some down time. Have a comfy chair, a bookcase or magazine rack, some nice plants and inspirational artwork. Other zone ideas include play zones, eating zones or messy activity zones. You can zone by room or just sections of a room. When there are designated places to do stuff, it’s easier to devise appropriate storage to keep what’s needed tidy and ready.
Have a One In, One Out Rule
When a new thing comes into the house, encourage kids (and everyone else) to choose an item it will replace. This doesn’t mean throwing out the older thing as it can take its place in your self storage room. You don’t have to do this for every single purchase or gift you’re given but making it a general concept will help you not hang onto things that are no longer used. It can definitely help keep the clutter down.
Have regular Decluttering Sessions
Every few months or so, have a sorting session with the kids to go through all their toys and belongings and weed out the ones that are broken, having missing pieces, are outgrown, or just not used anymore. Doing it with kids rather than for them reminds them what they already have and helps them learn decision making when they choose items they no longer want. If they’re struggling to let go of anything, remind them that you’ll store things in self storage so they’re not lost forever.
Make Tidying Fun
You can turn tidying up into a game or a race to see who can put away the most toys in a given time frame, say two or three minutes. Just try and make sure younger children don’t always feel outdone by their older siblings. At the same time, lead by example by joining in. Kids watch their parents very closely for cues on how to act and behave. They’re more likely to join in with tidying up if they feel they’re helping – especially if you make it rewarding for them.
And when all else fails, embrace the chaos. With the best of intentions there are going to be times when things get messy. It’s ok. There’s always time to reign things in and reclaim the calm, tidy space that’s hiding under the muddle.