Anyone who has kids already has plenty on their plate, but the constant buildup of outgrown clothes can be a lot to deal with after too long. Sure, the idea of hand-me-downs is nice in theory—give your kid’s old clothes to someone a little younger (or the right size) to help them get a new home and keep the circle of life flowing smoothly. But it doesn’t always go that smoothly! Without the proper home (or the spare time to meet up and arrange the hand-off, which you find much less of as you continue into your adulthood) for these hand-me-downs, they can start to pile up and prevent access to the actual clothes your children need to wear now.
As your kids start getting older and they’re more able to take care of themselves, you might start wondering how to teach them a little responsibility around the house.
Nothing huge, of course, but even getting your kids to take care of their own toys or clean up around the house is a great way to start teaching them responsibility early on in life and help instill a sense of pride in their surroundings. Of course, as you’re probably well aware, getting your kids to do anything new can be something of a challenge, let alone something as lackluster as picking up their toys. We’ve found a few ways to help get your kids more interested in picking up after themselves while helping reduce your overall workload, even by a little bit, and we think they’ll help your kids stay focused on the job ahead:
Most kids don’t handle change well, especially when it’s time for them to do something they’re not particularly excited about doing—like cleaning up after themselves. To avoid overwhelming them, bring them into the world of household chores slowly, and with easy stuff at first so they get used to it. One day, ask them to pick up their room when they’re done playing. Once doing that for a few weeks, see if they want to help tidy the living room too. Introduce these tasks slowly over time so they don’t get overwhelmed and will be more interested helping in the long run.
Let them choose what they do
In a lot of cases, kids will feel more productive and be more willing to help if they think they have some say in what they’re doing. Does your kid hate getting their hands wet? Stick with having them pick up their toys and helping take out the trash. Is your child sensitive to a lot of sensory input, like bright lights or loud noises? Avoid teaching them how to vacuum and instead have them learn how to help sort and fold laundry. It might be a lot of trial-and-error at first, but learning what chores work best for your little ones will help everyone stay happier and more productive.
Provide their own tools for cleaning
Particularly in kids’ bedrooms, giving them supplies of their own, particularly kid-friendly versions, will help them feel like they have their own little ways to get organized. For toys, give them some small plastic storage bins to help them sort out their favorites—action figures in one, plush animals in another, etc. Depending on the age of the child, you may be able to give them their own bedroom dresser for holding clothes or even their own bedroom furniture to help them decorate their own bedroom. This may instill a bit more pride in keeping their books, clothes, and video games organized and put away. Even something like their own personal laundry hamper or a tiny trash can will give them a sense of ownership, and for a lot of kids that’s exactly what it takes.
Make it feel like a partnership
The one thing that will deter kids faster than most others is for them to feel like they’re all on their own. There’s a careful balance that needs to be struck here—you can’t do too much of it for them, but you also don’t want them to feel like they’re suddenly getting piled on. For bigger projects (like a whole room cleaning), make sure you’re always there helping them get things done and providing guidance where needed. For smaller projects, like the nightly toy pick-up, you don’t necessarily need to be in there helping out, but if they know you’re working on another cleaning project at the same time, it will keep them motivated and ready to finish their own chores. Don’t ever let them feel like they’re on their own, as it will easily discourage them and set your efforts back.
Remember to reward them—but keep it subtle
Too many parents fall into the trap of offering allowance money in exchange for chores, and while that works as your kids get older (and may get them ready to find a job in the long-term) if you try it too early on it may begin to affect your child’s motivation, and prevent them from doing anything unless they’re getting paid for it (which is a problem they’ll have plenty of time for later in life). Instead, try to find ways to reward them. Tell your kids that if they get X amount of room cleaning done by a certain time in the day, they can go out for bike rides later, or finally get to see that movie they’ve been clamoring for. You need to find limits to when and where you deploy this strategy, but you might find that over time your kids are willing to start helping without being asked due to the positive associations they’ve formed.
Got any other tips for getting your kids to be more responsible around the house? Leave a comment below!
Some of you parents may have recently had A Talk with their kids about either their grades, their messy rooms, or both, and are probably experiencing a little anxiety at the very idea of combining them.
But before you start reaching for that parenting handbook, hear us out! There’s actually a lot of evidence that links a nice, clean, decluttered space to better performance in school (and a better quality of life overall), and it may be just the thing your kids need to better focus on their studies.
A recent study by Princeton University has shown that having too much visual stimulation (from clutter, a TV on in the background, etc) can cause all the different sources of stimulation to ‘compete’ for space in the brain, and make it much harder to concentrate on things.
Makes sense, right? How many times have you been trying to work at your desk or get something done at home and gotten distracted by some little knick knack on your desk, or noticed a pile of magazines on the table you’ve been meaning to throw out? It stands to reason that if you’re affected by this issue your kids may be too, and it can start to affect their ability to get studying done at home.
Have you noticed your kids beginning to have difficulty getting their homework done, or getting a lot of wrong answers on the assignments they finish? A cluttered room could very well be a contributing factor. And luckily, the solution isn’t as difficult as you may think!
The next time your kid sits down to do homework, take a look at the space they use. Are they at the kitchen table where they’re surrounded by distractions and clutter? Do they have a desk of their own, trapped behind the usual mess of child’s room? Take a look and see if there’s anything you can do to help clean up the mess and provide more focus.
If they do their work at the kitchen table, get some kitchen organizers to reduce some of the clutter on the table and help them focus on the task at hand. Bedroom cleaning will probably be a bigger adventure, but it’s nothing you can’t handle with some extra shelves and some plastic bins for all the toys.
Make sure to focus on the area they do their studying—if they do have their own desk, make sure they don’t keep any toys or any other potential distractions on it. Get some desk organizers so they always have things like paper and pencil right where they need it, and don’t let them keep the TV or the computer on while they’re working unless they absolutely have to—and even then, keep a close eye on what they’re doing so their eye doesn’t wander towards cartoons or Minecraft.
A clean room and quiet study space should help your kids stay productive (and might even help them sleep better), building good study habits for the future. You might not be able to make sure they keep their rooms clean in college, but you can help them get there!
Whether you’ve got little ones of your own or you’re just expecting to see the grandkids a lot, you’ve probably got some experience in needing to kid-proof your home. There’s all the big rooms people need to take care of - living room, kitchen, anything with a lot of cords and electrical outlets, you know the routine. But what about the smaller, out-of-the way places? Your little ones are going to figure out how to open doors eventually, which means you’ll have even more places to keep safe from the little ones.
It’s summertime, and that means the kids are home from school - including your college students.
The break between semesters can be pretty long, and if your college-aged kids aren’t involved in any summer classes (or if their school doesn’t offer them) they’re probably going to want to spend their time back at home to see their friends and not have to think about homework, or where they can do their laundry.