How many times have I heard women complain that their partners and children don’t pick up after themselves? I am guilty of being one of them, but those days are over. You’d do better to save your breath and take action while the kids are still young.
Around the age of 3 or 4, kids want to help out and do things like grown-ups do. This is a chance of a lifetime! It’s the perfect time to instill good habits, teaching your kids to put things away properly. If the plan works, they’ll gradually learn about organization and may even develop a sense of responsibility (I know, it’s music to the ears!).
I’m not talking about a boot camp for tidying up, just simple little things your kids can do. I have two girls that I adore, but I have no desire to constantly pick up after them (though it’s a great way to get a cheap workout!). That’s why the drawers in their bathroom have plastic baskets: one for toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss; another for hair elastics and barrettes; and another for combs and hairbrushes. It has become a reflex for them to put everything back in the right basket (they began using the baskets before they could even talk).
Baskets are equally handy in the playroom, especially when you put a picture on them showing what goes inside. For example, you could have a basket with a picture of a puzzle piece, crayons, or figurines. Even friends or cousins who come over to play will know where to put things away, and they can do it without the help of an adult or even being able to read.
Baskets work in the bedroom too. Small baskets can be used to separate socks and underwear. It’s easy and it’s visual, which is why we like it! Once all the laundry has been done, the kids might be able to put away larger articles of clothing, but with the help of baskets, they’ll definitely know where the smaller articles go.
Be sure to choose drawers that aren’t too high and to commend a job well done. Otherwise, children can’t work independently and will lose interest.
Of course, my girls will grow up and have many more things to leave lying about, but I have hope that my strategy and little system of baskets have already permanently changed their DNA!
Get moving my darling little troopers. At four years old, you’re big girls and boys!