It’s summer in Waterford, MI, and that means two things if you have kids at home: playing outside and mess inside. You know the drill – school’s out, so it’s all day play. Toys, pool towels, soccer balls, and sidewalk chalk abound. No one wants to clean up after a long day in the sun, but with our tips, you can keep the fun going, and you and your kiddos can keep the house organized together.
- Teach Your Little Ones to Sort
Pick a creative theme and ask your kids to sort their toys, clothes, or even your dishes with you. You may be used to sorting by functionality – dolls in this bin, toy trucks in this one, but with an added level of creativity, you can make it a game and refine your child’s ability to recognize patterns. With the youngest students, consider utilizing a straightforward category like colors or letters. As students age, look for more challenging categories.
One idea may be to base your category on the town you live in and encourage your older kids to think critically about connecting things. For example, in Waterford, you might use one category that is “the Waterfront” that includes pool or bath toys, one category that is “Performing Arts Centers” and includes any arts and crafts supplies, and one category that is “the Historic District” and includes all of their favorite toys. If you have kids of varying ages, get the older ones in on the fun and ask them to help you come up with the categories!
- Use the “Toy Story” Method
As anyone who has seen Toy Story knows, as soon as our backs are turned, toys come to life! But where do they stay when it’s time to go to bed? Teach your child that toys need homes just like us and that they can help you create them. Before bed every night, ask your child to make sure that all of their toys “go home” to their assigned spot in your house. This will encourage your child’s imagination and motivate them to be conscious and careful without your supervision.
To make this activity even more special, help your child with an arts and crafts project where they can use paper, colors, and glue to design homes for each of the characters. Take them on a walking tour of Historic Waterford for design inspiration. For other craft ideas, check out our blog here.
Bonus Challenge: If your kids are old enough, this is a great opportunity to help them memorize their own address in case of an emergency. Try having them list where each toy lives as they put them away and end with their own address. “Barbies live in the drawers, books live on the shelves, but I live…”
- Label Away
Labels are the thing that always seem like an extra, unnecessary step, until you’re looking for that one thing that you put away in the place you would definitely remember later. So, save yourself the rifling through drawers and baskets, and label as you create your organizational system. This can be a great educational opportunity for students who are beginning to learn to read and write, as they can help you create the labels or you can test their reading skills. For older students, consider expanding their skills by including another language in your labels. This can supplement any language classes they take in school or daycare and be used as a gateway to cultures beyond your own.
- Declutter with A Purpose
Encourage your children to help you identify clothes and toys they’ve outgrown or no longer play with. Then, host a yard sale and donate the proceeds or volunteer at a local thrift store or homeless shelter. Teach your kids that they can make someone else’s lives better by regularly decluttering and donating. Kids will enjoy the opportunity to participate in volunteering, especially if you can gather a group of children to participate with you. Later, when you’ve returned home, what they’ve learned will inspire them to declutter on their own, hopefully creating compassionate habits that last a lifetime and keep your closets clean. In Waterford, there are tons of places to volunteer like Grace Centers of Hope.
- Schedule Weekly Fashion Shows
To help you feel on top of your mornings, plan your kids (and your own outfits) over the weekend. Make it fun by strutting your best outfits through the hallway like you’re in a fashion show together. Cue up your child’s favorite song and cheer them on to build their confidence and get them excited about getting to wear the outfit later in the week. Then, organize their outfits by day with hanging stacked shelves in the closet.
- Meal Prep with a Theme
Meal prepping can feel tedious when you’re already crunched for time, but planning ahead can allow you to keep your fridge and pantry in tip-top shape. Teach your children about healthy eating by looping them in on the meal prep. Challenge them to come up with creative meals that include different nutritional groups. Myplate.gov has great resources for introducing the topic to students of all ages and, from there, you can color and meal prep together.
Consider organizing your fridge or freezer into pre-packaged meals for the week or separating ingredients by day so that you’ll be able to easily see what you’ve run out of.
- Host A Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt
When you’ve run out essential items around the house or your shopping list is full, make it a game. Your kids can help you identify the products you regularly use at the house as you go on a “scavenger hunt” around the grocery store. This will help keep you and your children on track, without buying things you don’t need that end up adding clutter to your kitchen.
Bonus game: When you get home, race to see who can put things away the fastest!
- Keep a “Go” Bag in Your Car
The key to organization is over-preparation. Store a bag in your car or by the door that has everything you might need regardless of your child’s age. This can include toys for the ride, phone chargers, detergent sticks, a change of clothes, bandages, and even non- perishable snacks. Once you’ve packed it, plan to check it bi-weekly to see if anything needs to be restocked.
- Get Some Space
We get it – sometimes when kids are running everywhere, there’s just no time to stay organized. Building an organizational system can feel like it’s just too overwhelming to tackle at the end of a long day. Get some space to relax by finding engaging activities for your children that don’t require your involvement. This may be a play-date hosted by a friend that allows you to trade off every week or scheduled nap time. Alternately, enroll your children in classes or daycare. If you’re looking for these in Waterford, check out our camp offerings here.
Even the best parents can feel overwhelmed when searching for organization, but these tips can turn the tedious into a game that will create good habits for your kids throughout their lives. By setting a good example and mixing learning and fun, your new organization strategy will be a splash. Find out more information about how the Breakie Bunch can help develop good habits in your children through our Waterford classes and camps here.