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Blog: The Simplified Home
Mom, Can I Help Around the House?

In honor of the new year and the launch of my new book and family chore system, Mom, Can I Help Around the House? A Simple Step-by-step System for Teaching Your Children Life-long Skills for Pitching in and Picking up, (http://www.onlineorganizing.com/ProductsPage.asp?name=Mom_Can_I_Help_Around_the_House), I am starting a new series about the importance of and the steps to teach your children household skills and responsibilities. There's no better time than now, following the gift-giving season, to begin kids on the path to learning to care for their new toys and to contribute to their family in a positive way.
However, the immediate issue to tackle is getting the house back to normal after the influx of all the new kids' stuff from the holidays.   Here are some strategies to help you with that project.
Chances are your kids got more than a few gifts for Christmas!  By February, the new toys received in December will likely contribute to added clutter in bedrooms, playrooms, and throughout the house.

It doesn't have to be that way! January is Get Organized Month, the perfect time to begin teaching your kids valuable organizing skills to last throughout the year, and hopefully a lifetime.
As I've observed in my work with clients, there seems to be less and less time for children to learn valuable organizing skills from their busy parents.  Getting organized involves more than typical kid cleaning does. That is, shoving stuff under the bed and in the closets just isn't going to cut it. Instead, help your kids think of organizing as an ongoing, and fun game of strategy.

To get started, first brainstorm the goals of organizing your child's room or play area and be sure to involve your child in the process. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish… free up closet space, set-up a play area, purge unused toys, or all of the above? Once the goals for the space are identified, the project takes on a purpose and structure that will help your child to become excited and invested in the goal.  By age 7-8 children appreciate being part of the strategizing process and take pride and ownership in their own space.

Next, get rid of broken and stuff rarely used. After an initial clutter clearing, it is easier to assess what needs to be stored in the space. Prepare your children for the purging process by explaining that their new holiday gifts need a place to live, so some old toys need to go to make room. I recommend the "in and out" inventory rule that I often use with adult clients too. Have your kids divide their toys into three piles.
•         Keep - their favorites
•         Donate - toys rarely used and in good shape
•         Throw away - broken or worn out
Once you determine what your child is keeping, divide the keepers into categories, like art supplies, video games and action figures/dolls. Now you can determine what type of storage you need to store the keepers.  A multi-functioning piece of furniture like a bookshelf is an excellent addition to a child's room.  For toys and other small items, I recommend labeled clear plastic bins or boxes. Keeping items visible and accessible is important for successful storage and retrieval. If they need it often, they should be able to get to it easily and put it away easily.

Still, no matter how many storage boxes you buy, getting kids organized won't be instantaneous. Organization is a learned skill. Once the new toys have a home, kids need to understand the steps to and expectations for keeping their space organized. These new actions, done consistently, will take time to become habit. So be consistent and patient. Don't expect the organization to happen overnight - but know that the rewards long-term, perhaps until the next holiday purge, are well worth the effort for both you and your child.
Next up … Strategies for developing an effective family chore system in your home

posted on: 1/7/2008 10:00:00 AM by Janet Nusbaum, The Organizing Genie
category: Homes

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The Simplified Home

by Janet Nusbaum, The Organizing Genie

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About Janet:

Janet Nusbaum creates calm out of chaos, and loves bringing serenity and order to overwhelmed households, cluttered offices, frazzled parents, and transitioning seniors and families. Janet, President of Simplified Spaces & The Simplified Home, is an Organizing Consultant, Senior Move Manager, Author and Speaker.

She is the author of "Mom, Can I Help Around the House?" A Simple, Step-by-Step System for Teaching Your Children Life-Long Skills for Pitching-In & Picking-up".

She is a proud member: National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) & National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD)

Visit our blog - www.TheOrganizingGenie.com, and sign-up to receive our special report "SHELF LIFE OF 75 COMMON HOUSEHOLD ITEMS. Use this report to decide what to keep and what to toss ... then TAKE ACTION!!

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