Managing the mess that kids make can be overwhelming sometimes. But by adding some simple routines and expectations, your household will function like clockwork!
Make organizing a part of each day. Let kids know that they need to be responsible for their own possessions. Teach children how to pick up after themselves. It’s important to show kids that every item they own has a “home” where it needs to return when they’re done using it. Be consistent.
Establish simple routines that are age-specific. Younger children will need more direction and simpler expectations than pre-teens and teenagers. For example, saying “Clean up your room” is overwhelming to a kindergartner. Instead, try “Please put the Legos in the shoebox and your books on the bookshelf.” Some tasks that children under five can do:
• put dirty laundry in the hamper
• clean up toys (with assistance) at the end of the day
Kids over five should also be able to:
• make their beds every day
• clean up toys throughout the day
• select their clothing for the next day
• take schoolwork out of their book bags each day
As they grow, add more responsibilities. You are giving them skills and confidence to tackle more challenging projects in the coming years. And, most important, praise your children frequently for their efforts.
Don't forget that children of all ages need routines and schedules, as well as downtime.
• Set out the breakfast dishes each evening so you have a few extra minutes to languish over breakfast treats and conversation with your family in the morning. Also, gather bookbags and double check that permission slips, sports equipment, and lunch money are ready to go. Lay out tomorrow’s clothing to avoid hassles.
• Throughout the year, maintain routines for bedtime, mealtime, chores, etc. Allow some flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
• Slow down and unplug to enjoy and appreciate life. Turn off the TV and computer and head outside to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. Set aside some special time — a weekend morning is great — to cuddle on the couch and talk about the week’s events.
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