We know it can be a challenge to get your children to participate in the clean up, but creating systems that work for your kids, helping them to understand the systems, and allowing time for kids to do things themselves will encourage them to participate and teach them valuable skills for their future.
Here are a few items, design approaches and practices that will help get your kids on board when it’s time to tidy.
Create a space for everything
We hear you, there isn’t always a space for everything in your New York apartment or shared sibling bedroom, but hear us out.
When there is a designated space for the toys, clothes, and books that you have, it is easy to teach how to tidy up. Children enjoy clean spaces just as adults do, if you don’t know where something is supposed to go how can you expect them to. Eliminate unused toys, clothes, books, and donate them or share them with a family who might need them.
Baskets & bins
Bins and baskets are great because kids can easily sort and toss their toys, socks or animals right in. Clean up can be done quickly without worrying if the items will soon tumble off a shelf or looked unorganized or disheveled.
Bins are available in every size, price point and style and will fit into any space, stacked on a shelf, lined up under a bed. Labeling bins is a great idea to keep the items in them organized. Have your kids help to draw or write the labels, or adhere them to the bins so they are part of creating and setting up the room in an organized fashion.
Bins and baskets are great for tucking things away, but there is also a place for open and exposed shelving. Store items that line up nicely like books and art on shelves, and use them to store items that are frequently used and you want to be able to find quickly like that stuffed cat your little one can’t nap without.
A simple addition to the back of a closet door, a shoe rack can be a fun and playful way to store and sort a lot more than shoes. Line up some stuffed animals, or allot a few slots to art supplies that is used infrequently. This is a great way to reinforce the idea of putting things in their designated place.
Ample storage & the right tools
This goes back to the idea that there should be a home for everything. You might not have a huge playroom or bedroom for your kids, but add some additional shelving and line it with bins. Appropriate storage space will make it easier and more enjoyable for the kids to participate in clean up.
Give your children the tools they need to help in clean up, a simple step stool that they can move from space to space will allow them to reach the shelf that is just a little too high, or even help with other household chores like emptying the silverware from the dishwasher and sorting it appropriately.
For smaller spaces, a lofted bed can free up play space and create storage space, reducing the chance of clutter and providing a workspace or reading nook. There are several clever designs available in a range of budgets from something that you might just want for a few years, to a custom design that will last as your children grow.
Create nooks and corners they grow attached to
Designating areas which children grow attached to and have ownership of can encourage them to be enthusiastic about keeping it tidy, accessible and enjoyable. Make a reading nook with a Franklin+Emily chair, and book basket and some stuffed animals. Keep art and work materials at arms reach in a workspace on a desk.
Use dressers and drawers in a way that allows participation
When your children are small, place items that they can choose and fold or match themselves like underwear and socks in low drawers so they can participate in getting dressed and putting laundry away.
Provide space and time
No matter how much you optimize the design of your home for organization, it is important to remember that kids need time and space to complete tasks and aren’t going to clean and tidy at the same pace that you do. Their little creative minds will move from putting items away to playing with them, so give them the time they need to clean up, and divide and conquer when time is of the essence.
A few conclusions
Designing with your child's age, size and abilities in mind will help to provide them with the tools they need to successfully participate in clean up and household chores, giving them a sense of ownership and accomplishment.