Wednesday, June 3, 2009

get your family "thinking" organized

Do you have trouble getting your family on board for being organized? Sometimes, they may just think it's too complicated. What we've learned to do without thinking about it seems so simple to us, but we forget that we haven't communicated what we want from our family members. We just want them on board. Following are some simple tips to help us get our families to think organized--sometimes without realizing that's what they are really doing!

1. FAMILY MEETING: Hold a family meeting and explain to your family that you need help to be able to maintain the family home. BUT, don't just dictate what will be done! Ask for their input and take their suggestions seriously…make sure you are very clear about your expectations. One of the advantages to the whole family working together to keep things organized and clean is that it takes much less time, leaving the whole family free to pursue fun activities together.

2. CHORE CHARTS. One of the outcomes of your family meeting can be dividing chores up. With input from the family as to which chores they'd prefer to do, set up a chore chart that lists everyone and the chores they are responsible for. Explain too that none of the assignments are set in stone; they can be re-negotiated in the future. Everyone likes to have some choices and this is a good way to do that.

3. MAKE IT SIMPLE. Do your children just toss their clothing into the closet without hanging it up? Maybe the problem isn't that they don't want to do it right, but that they just can't. Is the closet rod too high for them to reach? Are the hangers too big for their clothing? You can lower the entire rod, or if you want to have room for hanging cubes, add a lower rod to one side. You can install a lower rod in half the closet, simply by hanging it from the upper rod. This will leave the other side free for hanging cubes that can also be used for storage. In addition to lower rods, purchase some smaller hangers so that they aren't so bulky and frustrating for the kids.

4. DIRTY CLOTHES PILES: Does your spouse consistently toss his/her dirty clothing in a single spot on the floor? Help to get your better half to think organized by placing a hamper in the exact spot he/she tosses those dirties. This way you are making it easier to `think organized' without having to pick up piles of dirty clothes behind your spouse.

5. TOYS EVERYWHERE? Do you have toys all over the place with no one putting them away? If you have small children, make it easy for them. First, pare down the amount of toys. Many times, our children have more toys than they ever play with. Find their favorites--those toys they play with consistently. Then pack up the rest. You could donate them, or just pack them up and store them to be rotated. Second, get rid of the toy box. Kids can't find anything in a toy box so they won't use it, or if they do, the mess from trying to find something is all over. Use cubbies, or cubes that you can find in any department store. Third, if your children are very small and aren't reading yet, use pictures to label each bin so that they know exactly what goes where. When there isn't an overwhelming amount to be picked up, and they know exactly where it goes and that they can easily find it later, they are much more able to keep the toy mess to a minimum. You might also make a rule that only one toy at a time can be out. For them to be able to play with a new toy, the old one has to be put away.

6. LABEL, LABEL, LABEL! Do you despair that nothing will ever be put in its proper place? If you don't already have a label maker, buy one. They are a very helpful too--for your pantry, linen closet, medicine cabinet, kitchen cupboards and drawers. Label what goes where. The labels are small enough to fit on the face of a shelf and big enough to be easily read.

7. REWARDS. Don't we all like rewards? Our families are no different. The rewards don't have to be monetary. They can be a favorite meal prepared, a favorite movie or even a day out with Mom or Dad. There are a number of rewards that will work. Very small children love to get stickers, or candy, or balloons. Older children would enjoy one- on-one time with Mom or Dad, or both. Dad's reward could be an afternoon fishing or golfing. Mom's reward could be spa time (at home or at the spa). There are a number of ways that you can reward the family for 'thinking organized'. Find what works best for your family and your situation.

8. MAKE IT FUN: None of us like to do drudge work, including our children. When most people have a bit of drudgery to do, they tend to put it off as long as possible, even to the point of avoiding it altogether. Our families are no exception to this rule. Young children especially like to race the clock, so set a timer and challenge everyone to a beat-the-clock game. In a specific amount of time, see how much stuff everyone can pick up and put away. When it’s fun, everyone enjoys participating.

9. REVIEW: This ties in to the family meetings and chore charts. When the family knows that they aren't arbitrarily stuck with a chore forever and ever, it makes it a bit easier for them to be willing to take on a chore they don't particularly like, or aren't familiar with. With periodic reviews, say once a month, or once every two weeks, you and your family will be able to assess how things are going and to decide if you want to redistribute the chores.

10. LIGHTEN UP: This is applicable in more ways than one. It is impossible to organize clutter, so if you have too much stuff, you need to lighten your load. Donate items that are in good condition (gently used), or hold a family garage sale. Set the sale up so that each member of the family gets the proceeds from their items. Or, you could agree as a family to combine the proceeds for a special treat, maybe a trip to an amusement park or similar attraction. Give your family an incentive to part with things and they will more than likely be willing participants. Another way to lighten up is in our attitudes. Sometimes we get so focused on the things that need to be done all around us that we forget to just enjoy our families. Don't make that mistake.

11. ENJOY YOUR ORGANIZED FAMILY: It only takes doing something 21 times to make it a habit. Introduce these suggestions slowly and when each one is a habit, start on a new one. Then you will have a home that requires less care, one because you have lightened the load, and two because the whole family is taking part in the care and maintenance of the home. This leaves you free to enjoy more family time together.

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Blogger JOY said...

LOVE this post - do you ever do guest posts? I would love to re-post this one on my organizing blog with credit to you and a link back to yours. Let me know!

June 10, 2009 at 11:14 PM  

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