How To Keep Your Kids Organized

February 13, 2012 by Michelle

I’m trying to decide if I’m a mean mom because of all the rules and strategies I put into place for the wee ones or if I’m just lazy. I have this thing about keeping my house somewhat neat and the wee ones helping me do so. Thus, the fining system that I recently implemented (which is working amazingly well by the way).

One of our other challenges is the afternoons when the wee ones get home from school. There is a lot they have to do, and we sometimes struggle to get it done without … issues. Either the wee ones can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do. Or they whine that everything will take forever. Or they claim that they’ve done something but really forgot. Or they simply don’t want to do it at all.

I’ve finally come upon a solution that’s working for us. The wee ones are happy, we’re getting things done, and I don’t have fifty kajillion questions about what they need to do now. Remember the homework room I created? I’m using the whiteboard I painted for more than practice work. It’s now where I create a list each afternoon – before they get home – of everything the wee ones need to do.

I’m a list maker, so I love the idea of a list. And the wee ones love having things crossed off. We learned very quickly that one rule must be that only Mommy may erase anything from the board. I will take it off only when the item has been done to my satisfaction – clean clothes put away means that the laundry basket has to be put away, too, and math homework means the problems have to be all correct, for example.

The wee ones love it because they get to choose what order to complete the tasks. They have control over it, and it makes them feel good. So long as nothing is mission critical (e.g., today, they have to change for gymnastics before they finished all their homework), I have no problem with that. And it’s nice for them to learn to prioritize their tasks, too. Eventually, I’ll require that they write down what they need to do instead of me doing it, but we’re not quite there yet.

And best of all? It’s the board that’s telling them what to do. It isn’t a battle of me versus them telling them what to do. When I see Mister Man starting to play with Legos or read a book when he still has tasks to do, I can simply ask him to check out the board, and he knows he has to wait. I’m amazed by how smoothly this is going for us – and here’s hoping I didn’t just jinx it!

The hardest part is me remembering everything they have to do each day. On Tuesdays, Little Miss goes to the school library and needs to return her books. I have to remember to write that on the Monday tasks.

But oh how it warms my heart to hear, “Mom. Mom, I just completed Task X. Can you erase it from the board?”

What works for you to keep your children organized?

    Comments

  • Pat


    Oh, this is fantastic, Michelle! I was never that organized, except for when I made a list for each boy of what to pack for our cross-country road trip. I like that it's the board telling your wee ones what to do. They will grow up to be very organized adults, I'm guessing. My eldest son is the most organized son now. Some day I'll tell you about his “VanderBeek Family Guest Information” binder that he prepared for us last summer when we babysat the little boys for 4 days. It (the binder) made us laugh a lot. The detailed and copious instructions were hilarious.

  • Tara R.


    Congrats on a winning strategy! Sounds like a win/win for everyone.

  • Gina


    I need to try this. Sadly, my kids' lack of organization comes directly from me and my husband – we suck at it too!

  • Heather E


    That is awesome- You are getting stuff done and teaching them the value of a good list and how it help them in the future! 🙂

  • Michelle


    Pat – It's working for us right now, and we really need the organization because with our early bedtimes we don't have a ton of extra time to do nothing. My dad supervised Mister Man's homework last night, and it ended up taking 1:20, which isn't ok :s

    Tara – So far it is. In fact, I didn't do it yesterday because I wasn't home and then was busy when they got home making our pizzas and Little Miss kept wandering into the kitchen “but I don't have a list to work on!”

    Gina – Wrong attitude! 🙂 I'm just a lover of lists, and so far this is working for us. Wish us luck!

    Heather – Here's hoping they're learning. I'm a little torn that I'm giving them too much of a crutch with this, but … they're 6 and 8 and they'll be in charge of creating it soon enough. I hope 🙂

  • Sandra


    This is a great idea. I may have to start doing this, too, and we already have a dry erase board in the kitchen area (where homework is done). It will work really well once both kiddos can read. Need to go get some new markers!

  • bethanyp


    I love this idea! Nice work!

  • Trena


    Thanks for sharing with #What to Read Wednesday. Great tips to write chores/tasks on a white board!

    • Michelle


      Thanks 🙂 It helps them feel like they’re getting things done they’re supposed to and it’s empowering to watch them disappear!

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