Kids are the most precious thing in the world to their parents. They are priceless. We love them so much that we would do anything for them to be happy. How do we help our kids be happy? Here is where people have different views and opinions, and this is not what this blog is about. I’d like to relate to the basics, meaning something everyone should have to build a life; I believe that a happy kid is one that owns a rainbow of life skills to support future decision making, when becoming an adult and eventually leaving the parent’s house to be independent.
There are things parents naturally do for their kids, such as helping them become good students, so that they can go to the best universities, teaching them manners or how to drive a car. On the other hand, there are skills that for some reason parents do not always teach their kids. They are either considered to be “naturally taught” or they are just difficult to deal with. Here are examples:
Finance – kids who do not learn the basics of managing a budget & setting priorities on what to buy, will struggle as independents.
Cooking – nobody learns how to cook unless being taught how to cook.
Organizing – being organized is a “must” foundation to be happy.
The above skills, when mastered, make our lives easier, more flowing, thus less stressful. Stress is the enemy to a happy life.
Is there a class at school that teaches how to organize? Is there an after school program to teach how to be organized? Since the answer is “no”, it is our duty, as parents, to teach our kids organization habits. It is not obvious.
The reason parents sometimes don’t act on teaching organization or finance habits is related to the parents not being comfortable with these subjects. If I, as a parent, do not like to organize, I would unconsciously procrastinate talking to my kids about organizing.
In this blog, I’d like to propose a few tips to help organize your kids and yourselves together in a fun way, that would feel comfortable.
Remember – the parents are a role model to the kid.
#1 – kids need abundance of LOVE, not stuff
So many parents complain that their kids have too many toys. An American kid has an average of 238 toys! Can you imagine? No kid would ever be able to play with them all, even if they play all day. We all know so many toys are useless and create a mental and objective “mess”.
Please ask the family to buy less toys, and ask the same of yourselves as parents. We do not want the clutter of too many toys.
As of what already exists – donate what’s not needed. For little kids, rotate between toys – each week let the kids play with only a few toys, while they can’t see the rest. Hide them.
Do not let the kids create a mess on rugs, floors, counters, beds or tables. Help them put everything back into place. It’s easier to maintain order rather than needing to put order into a mess. Save your energy to productivity or one more game with your kids! This is quality time that will be remembered for years to come.
#2 – be consistent
What drives results in life is consistency. It signals to your surroundings that you are not just talking, but you are serious.
Create a routine for your kids: have them do their bed in the morning, have meals with the family, do homework on time, perform certain tasks in the home in a timed manner, reward them with an agreed “treat” on a timely basis. This routine will create a system of habits for the kids. It will create discipline in a natural way.
Researches have shown that kids with no discipline are suffering. The reason is too much freedom and lack of a system. Kids feel helpless. Parents help kids by putting boundaries together with having them take responsibility for their actions. Let me give you an example: My son is good in math. In 6th grade he received A in all his tests. However, his grade was B. Why? because he often forgot to turn in assignments. That costed him not being invited to be tested for Algebra for 7th grade. A sea of tears came out of his eyes. I told him that during the whole year I was asking him to be more organized with his school tasks and work with a calendar. He refused to listen. But you know what happened the next year? My son made sure to have A. Why? Because I was consistent with my message to him to be organized at school, and after a while he absorbed it. Without my support as a parent, I’m not sure he would have handled the situation well. He is a different kid at school now and is being very organized and responsible.
#3 – Organize kid’s room together
I love organizing kids and teens rooms. It’s one of the best things to help a youngster.
To do that, obviously the parents room needs to be organized. The action of organizing together is quality time with your kids: you go through items from the past, raise memories, talk about the future and laugh together. Be creative – choose furniture and colors to make the room a happy space for your kid. You know your kids the best.
It is important to start doing this at a young age, to prevent resistance of a teenager. If you missed that window, don’t give up and call a professional organizer. I’ve had success with teens. Remember – when a third party talks to your kids, they listen.
Again – the earlier you start, the chances resistance will show up is low.
#4 – the “dispose of” game
Most homes have too much stuff. Make the process of disposing fun, rather that a pain. Create two bins – one for donations and one for trash.
The game says that each day, for a specified period, each member of the family should put a minimum of one item in one of the two bins. This way the home is being decluttered and the family members learn to be organized and live with less. It is a family effort that everyone benefits from. It teaches the kids to think more before purchasing. Consequently, they would buy what they need and not what they “feel like”. It makes them happier and saves money.
#5 – work in the kitchen together
The kitchen is the most used space in the house. We all need to eat and there’s a lot to manage and organize in a kitchen. I find myself, some days, spending hours in the kitchen. I have helped many families organize their kitchens, so that they become functional and that every member of the family can enjoy the kitchen. Teach your kids the basics: Have them handle the dishes, learn where food and accessories are, clean after and put things back in place. I love to cook, so I teach my kids how to cook also. If you are not so in-love with cooking, maybe you and the kids can learn how to cook together. It’s a win-win.
The tips just described all root to the basics. The basics are the fundamentals to happy lives. If we all take a step back from the crazy pace of lives and think “SIMPLE”, we can apply those tips and achieve a better connection with our kids and better skills. Consequently, the whole family will be happier. Try it! Good luck.
I’m always here for you.
Sincerely, Hagit Koren / Professional Organizer