A week from today, on February 24th 2014, marks the release date of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, the first book in my new cozy Organized Mysteries series, with amateur sleuth and organizational expert Kate McKenzie. For a fun tie-in to the book, my publisher, Gemma Halliday Publishing, and I are running organization tips here on my blog and later in the week on her Facebook author page (but I’ll post info on the days of the posting for her site when the dates get closer).
Today, I want to cover a couple of ways I used pictures for years to help my kids keep themselves and their space organized. I know every child is different, but most little kids really want to help. They just don’t always understand how.
With young ones, I quickly realized two things: 1) all little children love playing match games, and 2) kids love marking things off lists after tasks are completed.
Getting kids to clean their rooms and keep things neat isn’t impossible if they’re taught workable methods and have the right tools. Small lidded plastic bins and boxes collect millions of pieces, like Legos, KNex, Hot Wheels, Barbie clothes, and other items that can drift unchecked through your home. Larger tubs and containers are great for blocks and balls, play dishes and larger trucks, train sets, and any kind of track system. But the problem with these containers is that too often they become a jumble of everything.
Use see-thru containers when possible but, better yet, always label what goes inside whether kids can see inside or not. If a container is empty, kids will just throw anything inside if they don’t know for sure what goes there.
For children too young to read, marking the outside of the container isn’t enough—but a great alternative is to let little ones draw pictures or find photos of the items in magazines, or snap a digital photo and paste it on the outside. Kids love putting pictures onto containers with tape or a glue stick. And once this is done, they can match the picture on the outside to the toys they want to put away later.
Another way to corral wandering items is to use a hanging shoe organizer on the back of the closet door, and tape or glue pictures onto the pouches to show what goes in each one. Most children don’t have enough shoes to fill the pouches, but the extras can easily store umbrellas, caps, or other small items. Add another organizer to the back of the bedroom door for toys, like cars or fashion dolls, or even small stuffed animals. And, again, a picture on each pouch reminds the child what belongs there to keep the room tidy, and to be able to easily find the item later.
Beyond the use of pictures to show where everything goes, I regularly drew pictures on short chore charts. The pictures showed what needed to be done that day or that week, and when the job was completed the reward was to get to put a star or some other favorite sticker over the drawn task picture to show the work was finished. I didn’t have to constantly remind about the tasks, and knowing they’d get to cover the picture with a sticker made kids start doing everything much quicker. You don’t have to be a Picasso to draw on a chore chart like this [though some of my drawing did have a bit of the unreal Picasso feel to them 🙂 ], and again, you can always snap a digital shot of the task and print a picture to remind what needs to be completed if you’re not comfortable drawing it.
To paraphrase the old staying, I found pictures did keep this mother from saying a thousand words—LOL!
Now that I’ve given you ideas for using pictures to help teach your kids organization, here’s a great BuzzFeed post that gives more than a dozen clever ways adults can use pictures to simplify and organize life. Take a look: Use your camera phone to keep your life on track.
If you liked any of these tips today, please come back for more tips the rest this week. I also incorporated tips like these in my novel ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, too, and it will go on-sale at all online booksellers on February 24th. Yes, I’ll post the links here when they go live. And in the meantime, for more information on the book, check out the GoodReads page for a synopsis on the novel and the great early reviews that have already been posted: GoodReads Organized for Murder
Do you have any organization problems in your home, work, or life? Post them as a Comment, and I’ll try to come up with a solution for you.