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Blog: Easy Organizing For Active Kids And Busy Parents
5 Tips to Help You Motivate Your Kids to Organize

I recently had the distinct pleasure of working with my new favorite client!  She was motivated, hard working, and willing, for the most part, to let go of unnecessary stuff.  And at the ripe age of 8-years-old, I even caught her explaining to her baby sister that things need to go back to their "home" when she's finished playing with them. 
It was at that moment that I knew she was really taking in the theory behind organization, or at the very least, she had listened and processed what I was trying to explain.  Yes, her closet and room will probably not stay perfectly organized forever, but maybe the next time her Mom tries to get her to straighten up her room, she will have a plan and a method already in place and it will not seem like such a chore.
So what are some tricks and tips for getting your kids involved with the organizing process? While personal motivation can vary among individuals, here are just some of the methods I have found to be successful . . .
1.   Get kids involved right from the start.  My young client knew when she woke up that morning that I was coming over to help tackle her room.  We did not spring it on her at the last minute, and mentally, she was prepared.  She knew it would take the better part of her day-off from school, and although it was most likely not her preferred way to spend the day, she had known for at least a week that this project was going to occur.
2.   Let them enlist the help of their friends, for both moral, AND physical, support. My young client relied on her best friend and younger brother to help her with this project.  First, I debriefed the crew on the sorting process and the ultimate mission at hand.  Once they understood their task, all three started digging into the closet and sorting things into several basic categories of "stuff."  The categories were general enough that they all understood the process, and if there were any items they were uncertain of, I was there to guide and gently lead them.  While the help did not last for the entire day (after all, the friend and brother did not have any REAL investment in the project, other than helping someone they care about) their presence was enough to keep my client moving, motivated and engaged.
                                  The girls sort items into different bins.
                                  The girls sort the baby doll clothes. . .
                               . . . while the brother sorts stuffed animals.
3.   Periodically remind kids of the benefits of organization.  As we worked, I repeatedly reminded her of why we were organizing and why it is such an important objective.  Now of course, the reasons you proclaim have to be both age-appropriate and relevant to the child's point of view.  If I simply told her that this is what her Mom wants and that it will keep her parents happy, as much as she loves her parents, that motivation would probably not be enough (sorry, Mom!).  So instead I reminded her of how easily she will soon be able to find her toys whenever she needs them, how quickly she will soon be able to clean up her room when asked, and how nice it will be to bring her friends into a cleaner room.  Moreover, every time she rejoiced at finding a long-lost toy or book or earring, I reaffirmed the benefits by asking her, "Now where does that belong so that the next time you need or want it you can find it really fast?"
4.   Get someone else to lead the project.  This may just seem like a sales pitch, and I guess to a point, it is.  However, hiring a professional organizer to work with your kids really IS an effective way to accomplish their organization projects.  If disarray and frustration have been a growing problem, chances are that tensions will increase further and sparks may fly when you try to tackle the problem.  A professional organizer can be a good mediator, and sometimes, as aggravating as it can be, kids listen a lot better to the advice and suggestions of other adults, even if it is what they have been hearing over and over from their own parents.

As I said, motivation can differ greatly from individual to individual, so try these idea and see what works best with your youngsters.  As for my special 2nd grade client, I am planning to drop by soon to check out how successful she has managed to be at maintaining her newly organized space.  I am sure there will be some necessary tweaking and reminding, she IS only 8 years old.  But, I promised to issue her a report card and I'm hoping I can give her lots of passing grades and, of course, some sort of treat for her hard work (Yes, that's tip number 5. When all else fails, bribe them like crazy to keep things organized and functional!)

Coming Next Week:
Are you a paper piler?  Do you think you are in control of your piles, but in reality, your piles are in control of YOU?  As a former paper piler myself, I understand.  Next week we will discuss quick and easy ways to manage the paper and rediscover the tops of your counter once and for all.  Until then, have a great week!
Simply yours,

posted on: 12/7/2007 9:00:00 AM by Debbie Jordan Kravitz
category: Family

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Easy Organizing For Active Kids And Busy Parents

by Debbie Jordan Kravitz

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About Debbie:

Debbie Jordan Kravitz is a Professional Organizer, Author, and Owner of Virtually Organized by Debbie LLC. She is also a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD). Debbie's goal is to help her clients customize, organize and simplify their lives so they can spend less time searching for their things and more time doing the things they love.

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