Disorganization and clutter can make parenting stressful. Eliminating mental and physical clutter makes life more manageable, creates space for pursuing goals and dreams, and allows you to spend more time with those you love.

Here are My Top 10 Organizing Tips for Parents:

  1. The Two-Minute Rule. If it takes two minutes or less, just do it! It’s not worth the time or mental energy to write it on your To Do List and track it.
  2. Make a home for everything. Group related items together, find appropriate containers to hold them, and place the things you use most frequently in the most accessible spaces. Store items close to their place of use. Label where everything goes, so everyone in the family can return things to the places they belong. Teach your kids to do this also so that they know that all of their belongings have a home.
  3. Establish the 10-Minute Pick-Up. Set a timer for 10 minutes every night, or choose 10 minutes’ worth of songs to play, and make it part of your family’s nightly routine to clean up together by putting objects back where they belong. When everyone works together it can be fast and fun!
  4. Employ the One In, One Out Rule. For every new object (e.g., a toy or piece of clothing) that is brought into the house, choose one to go out. We tend to use 20% of what we have 80% of the time, so find something that is no longer useful, loved, or enriching to your life, and give it to someone who can use it.
  5. Designate a space for outgoing items. Have family members place items that need to be returned or dropped off in an accessible place that is designated specifically for that purpose. A bin in the mudroom or a basket by the front door both work well. Every time you go out, take as many items as you can to drop off.
  6. Have kids help with household chores. Create a chart or list of each child’s responsibilities along with when each task needs to be done. Remember, your child’s idea of a clean room may be different from yours, so be specific with your expectations.
  7. Use a family calendar. Keep a large, centrally located calendar that lists each family member’s extracurricular activities as well as major events at school and home. Use a different color for each member of the family. Have one person be in charge of the calendar and check in with everyone each night to confirm the next day’s schedule. Have your kids record relevant activities from the family calendar into their planner. I’m a huge proponent of having kids use their planners for all activities, not just homework. This helps them see the bigger picture and manage their time better.
  8. Contain the Legos and small toys! Place Lego set contents into gallon-size Ziploc bags and label with the Lego set’s name and number. When your child is ready to build the set, pour the contents onto a tray or cookie sheet. Hang an over-the-door shoe organizer on the front or back side of a closet door to hold other small toys, stuffed animals, etc.
  9. Prepare for the day ahead. Have your child pack his/her backpack and lay out clothes for the next day before going to bed. This will help the morning routine go more smoothly.
  10. Make computerized checklists for groceries and other necessities. Print them out and keep them handy so that family members can check off an item that’s needed. Take the list with you when you go shopping.

Now that you have the tools to get organized, enjoy your additional free time with this fun activity:

Make a family “Activity Jar.” Have each family member write down three or four fun things they like to do on small pieces of paper (one paper per activity). Place everyone’s papers into an “Activity Jar,” and choose one or two fun family activities to do every weekend.

Photo credit: See-ming Lee

About Skills 4 Life:

Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers a broad range of pediatric occupational therapy services to help your child master age-appropriate developmental skills, become more independent, increase academic success & develop confidence. The experts at Skills 4 Life specialize in handwriting, keyboarding & executive function coaching, but also work with children on social & emotional learning, motor skills, self-regulation strategies & activities of daily living. Skills 4 Life Pediatric Occupational Therapy offers your child a safe, compassionate environment to learn the critical skills they need to be successful. Learn more about our team & services at www.skills4lifeot.com, or you can contact our office by email at karina@skills4lifeot.com or by phone at 303.351.1828 for a free consultation.

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