Friday, July 25, 2008

Home Organization - Training your Children

Thought I would give a shout out to my sister - n- law Kym.  She has gotten inspired by my tips and got busy on her house.  I am so proud of her.  These pictures are of her newly created and organized "school room" - she is about to become a home schooler.  She also inspired this post.  When she sent me these pictures a line in her email said "Now I just have to train the kids to put it all back where they got it."  Well I have a little suggestion that can HELP this process.  It won't solve the problem - but it will make the training part of it fun.  It is game time!!!!

So here's what you can do Kym, and all of you others who have said this exact same thing to me. Have some training time with your children in the form of a game.  Tell them that just like any other game they have to listen to the rules and follow the instructions in order to play.  So take a small section of the house - like this school room, a play room, bedroom, etc.  Talk to the kids and show them the basic gist of where things go.  Like I said in my previous post about labeling.  Your initial goal (especially with toddlers and preschoolers) is to get it very close to the general proximity of where it belongs.  We as mom's must die to perfection.  
So using Kym's pics as an example I would sit the kiddos down and tell them the first game we are going to play is I Spy. Tell them that this will help us learn were things go so that we can play the next game. Some of these are so obvious but that is great for little ones.  Have some stickers or something little in hand to give for right answers.  So then you can say things like I spy a globe, or a leap pad book, or a box of stacking blocks, or a get the picture.  The first child that shows you were it is gets a little sticker or such.  If the bigger kids are hogging the game then just take turns. Play this a little while and expect to let the kids be the person that spies as well.  This may be all that gets done in this training session.  Just remember that the goal is only known to you and disguised to the kids as fun and games.
If you have kids with long attention spans then proceed to the next game but you really want to make sure that the kids know were the things go/are first. If you stopped with I Spy and then return later to keep going then just recap the I Spy game with a quick "Who can tell me"  
The next game you can play with them is Memory.  Before they come into the room (or make them close their eyes) take 4-8 random objects off shelves and in the room and lay them in the center of the room.  Tell them that it's just like when you play the memory card game and you have to remember where you saw the matching card.  Here you have to remember from the eye spy game where things are (don't underestimate your kids - they can do this).  Have each one take turns and put an item back on the shelf where it goes - if it is wrong give them another try.  Make it fun.  When they get objects right reward them with whatever you want.  Remember that they are learning a skill so give them lots of praise and make it worth their while.  Play this several time if they stay with it.  When you think they are ready go to the final big game.
The Cleanup Challenge -  this should come with a great surprise for all who truly participate not just the winners.  My suggestion would be to get your husband involved with all of this but especially this game (I mean lets face it - he will think he is doing it to help you out this one time but then he can't say he doesn't know were things go :):)  So divide into 2 teams - 1 adult on each team.  If you don't have 2 adults but an older sibling then let them be the main helper on the other team.  The goal is to clean up the entire room CORRECTLY in the quickest time.  So go into the room and somewhat destroy it and then time the other team to see how long it takes to clean up the room.  Cheer on your opponents - (John would struggle to do that).  Next, your team goes and in order to make it fair you have to minimize your help since you did set up the system - give more guidance rather than doing it yourself.  After the game is over their should be a surprise for the winning team (Nothing wrong with healthy competition) but a big treat for everyone - ice cream would be great.  This would be the time to talk about and teach your children about stewardship.  Something like this:
I had a lot of fun playing our new games together the last 2 days (or tonight).  It was fun time to spend as a family.  But we did this for another reason as well.  We want to teach you how to be good stewards of our home....Talk about what a steward is and what God says about it (keep it on their terms)  You can be good steward by helping mommy take care of the things that God has provided for us like the toys and books that are in our school room.  The games we have played have taught you where things go and I have seen you put them where they go - you even won prizes for doing it.  So now, when mommy ask you to go clean up your school room - I know with complete confidence that you can do it.  We expect you to care for your things because God has instructed us to do so.  Mommy has spent this fun time together teaching you how to do just that.  i am so excited that you have learned a new skill and a new way to honor God.  Do you have any questions about what I expect of you?

A few tips:
1.  This could be a game night with breaks in between games.  The kids will follow your lead so if you make it a blast they will have a blast.
2.  You don't need to expect them to get it in 20 minutes especially if they are little or are not use to having "training times" like this.  Just be patient and try the next day.  The bigger picture here is that you are training your children how to be stewards - not just keeping a room tidy.
3. I would suggest talking with your husband about it before hand - I hope that he desires that your children learn stewardship as well and then he is on board and making it fun. Plus he learns where things go.  I would call that a GREAT PLUS!!!
4. I would suggest using this with every major room that you need their help keeping tidy and organized - their rooms, play rooms, living rooms, baths.  Some of these may not be safe for the kids to be in charge of yet so use your judgement.
5.  Don't stop after this night or training session.  If we don't use it we loose it.  If they slack replay the games to remind them.  Expect them to do it and make it an issue of obedience.  There have been times in my life I have said it is easier to just do it myself but God has told us to train our children in the way they should go.  If I do it myself I am doing my kids a great injustice of teaching them that someone will always be around to do it for them.  They don't learn/aren't taught personal responsibility and stewardship.  

I hope this is a way you can teach and train your children that is fun and playful rather than nagging and frustrating.  Love to hear how it goes.  Remember to be patient, persistent and consistent.  You will see fruit.


Holly S. said...

Great idea! I know it would be time consuming, but worth it. This will be printed out and put in my "life binder" in the section I'm keeping for our (hopefully in the future)kids.

Kristin said...

So fun... Jonathan and I just had the conversation tonight that goes a little something like this:

K: Thanks for trying to help, but there are actually PLACES for every single item in our house.

J: (Rolling eyes...)

K: I've worked hard to organize our house, and it would mean a lot to me if you'd put things where they go.

I can't wait to tell him we've got a new game to play!! Hee, hee, hee... I'm sure he'll be thanking you.