The Lazy Parents’ Guide to Organizing Kids
Written by Jennifer Hamilton, Well.ca’s Digital Content Editor
First things first, I’m not really a lazy parent…more like a busy parent. Of course, all parents are busy, so that’s not news. And I am by no means an expert, just a parent doing the best she can at organizing her kid.
My son is seven. HE is lazy. Well, not so much lazy as distractible. Busy. Easily bored. Not interested in the details. Essentially he’s a normal seven year-old boy. But a normal seven year old boy and a highly type-A personality mom don’t mix well — we’re kind of like oil and water — at least when it comes to organization. So we’ve developed a few really great organizational skills/tools to get him – and keep him – organized at home, at sports practices and at school.
1. Use a to-do list and a master calendar
We keep an active to-do list and a large calendar that anyone can write on. We list the family’s commitments, schedules for extracurricular activities, days off from school, and major events. My son’s grade 2 teacher also instituted an agenda where they write their homework assignments and important events – it’s a life saver.
2. Designate a spot for stuff.
Ever hear “a place for everything and everything in its place”? It actually works. Have a spot for gloves and hats, one for their backpack, one for finished homework and one for unfinished homework. Labels, lists, hooks, signs, drawings, whatever works so that they know where their stuff is and where it goes.
3. Designate a study space.
Your child should study in the same place every night. This doesn’t have to be in their room, but it should be a quiet place with few distractions. All school supplies and materials should be nearby. We use the dining room table. Close enough to where I’m working or making dinner and big enough that he can spread out.
4. Set a study time.
Your child should know that a certain time every day is reserved for studying and doing homework or even just reading. The best time is usually not right after school — most children benefit from time to unwind first. We take 15-20 minutes to unwind, have a snack and get organized then we do homework, read or just study spelling words.
5. Conduct a weekly cleanup.
Encourage your child to sort through book bags and notebooks on a weekly basis. Old tests and papers should be organized and kept in a separate file at home. Whatever is lurking at the bottom of the bag should see the light of day. Lunch boxes and backpacks should even go through the laundry once a month, or at least once a season.
6. Stick to a schedule.
Try to establish and stick to a regular dinnertime and bedtime. This will help establish a pattern. Children with a regular bedtime go to school well-rested. Try to limit television-watching and computer play to specific periods of time during the day (and not right before bed). A great way to get kids on a sleep schedule is with the Gro Clock.
7. Prepare ahead.
Before bed bed, we pack schoolwork and books in his book bag. The next day’s clothes should be laid out with shoes, socks, and accessories. We have a rule: if it’s not in his bag and ready to go the night before it doesn’t go. This cuts down on running around at 8:45am looking for a book or item he needs/wants to take with him.
What are your best tips to keep kids or get kids organized?