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Whenever I take Little Grasshopper to his best friend’s house the first thing he does is play with her little kitchen. So when his second birthday rolled around, Ted and I decided to get him his own play kitchen. After his birthday party we sent him out with my mom while we built it, and when he came home he immediately started playing.
But what happened next even I couldn’t imagine…
My little toddler took my tea mug that was sitting on our coffee table and placed it in his toy sink!
Booyah! Mom win, y’all!
You guys, toddlers are amazing little people! They absorb everything around them, even if we aren’t recognizing it.
And so, it is my humble opinion that we can start teaching our little ones the value of being neat and organized at a young age. Will they continue to tear apart their play rooms for the forseeable future? Yes, yes they will. But over time they’ll realize the importance of being organized and that we expect them to keep their spaces neat. Here’s my tips on how to teach your young kids organizational skills:
1-) Don’t wait for nap time
Many of us moms wait until our kids nap to get cleaning done. But if our children never see us doing the work, how can we expect them to understand that rooms don’t just magically get put back together? Let your children play in a safe area where they can see you if you want them to pick up on doing chores.
2-) Include it in playtime
Did you just sit down to tea time with your kids? Once you finish your lovely cups of tea, be sure to include washing the tea cups and putting them away before you move on to the next activity!
Tea time not your kids’ thing? Make cleaning up after any activity fun by making a game out of it. The more creative you get, the better!
3-) Let them help out
My toddler is more than willing to “help” with the laundry, so I let him! I’ll give him some folded clothes to put in his dresser and off he goes! Does he do a terrible job at it? You bet. But he feels accomplished in helping, and we actively work on improving where the clothes go and how to put them in the drawers without unfolding them.
Side tip: Give your little ones ONE article of clean clothing at a time to take to their room (make sure their furniture is attached to the wall!), and have them come back for more when they are ready. The running back and forth helps them to get their energy out 😉
4-) Make them help clean up their own messes
Ask your kids to help clean up when they spill something by mistake. While there’s no need to cry over spilled milk, we should make sure they take responsibility for their mistakes. When they know they are expected to help they will learn to be careful and value their belongings.
5-) Teach the value of “less is more”
This one is tricky, especially when our kids’ friends have the latest new toys. But the reality is that the less stuff we (and our kids) have the easier it is for everyone to keep it clean and organized. Does little Johnny have the coolest new Thomas the Tank Engine train? Teach your kids that the toy trains they already have can be just as fun by using their imagination.
Does this mean our kids should never have the cool new toys? No, but do keep it in moderation. And if you want more help on this Toy Detox course is a really useful and insightful course!
6-) Lead by example
Alright, let me just put this out there…we can’t expect our kids to be neat and organized when we live like slobs. It’s hypocritical, and just not fair. We need to lead by example, which means we need to clean and organize our spaces first. Only then should we teach them how to be neat and organized themselves.
At the end of the day it all comes down to routines. If getting-and keeping– their spaces organized becomes part of their routines, it won’t be a big deal later on when they need to keep organized in school, in activities, and eventually at work.
Those are my six tips on how to teach your young kids organizational skills! For more organizing advice, check out my posts How to Get Organized: 9 Attitudes You Have to Change, How to Organize a Small Pantry, and 5 One-Time Tasks to Organize Your Kitchen for Good .