Snow Day? Tackle An Organizing Project with Your Kids!
Organizing with your kids can be a great experience, employing their enthusiasm and energy to benefit them and the whole family. But kids don’t always know what to do with their energy, or how to organize.
Recently, a client asked for suggestions on tackling a really big project: organizing her large unfinished basement to make better play space for her active children! More importantly, her kids and their friends were on board to help with the project. They were awesome!
These suggestions would be the same for a family room or kid’s bedroom project. Perfect for a snow day in the new year!! Here is my response:
First, identify your goals. Often, your space will still have the same purposes when the project is finished – in this basement example, play space, holiday storage, etc. Just tidier. Sometimes the purpose for the space is changing, but let’s assume “same only cleaner”.
Next, assemble your supplies. Black garbage bags for trash, white kitchen bags for items to donate (you can write the destination on the white bag with a sharpie), sharpies, masking tape, Rubbermaid / Sterilite containers.
Then, pick your starting point: Bottom of the stairwell, near a specific door, or just some random place to start. I always have one starting point and work from there. However, that might not work in this case, since all your team members would be in one congested area. You could pick one spot, and have two teams move out in both directions from there. Or if there are different areas, you could have one team work on Christmas decorations, one team work on toys, etc.
Be sure to remove the easy stuff first:
- big items (bikes, big play pieces, random pieces of furniture) and set them aside.
- empty boxes – break them down and haul them outside, or set aside to use as storage containers
- containers that are already organized, complete and full – label them and pile them up
- donations, garbage, recycling – schlep out of the space you’re clearing, giving you more space and a feeling of accomplishment
If there is clothing in the area where you are working:
- dirty – send to the laundry room and deal with later
- storage (off-sizes or off-season), do a quick sort, put in large Rubbermaid containers to be dealt with another day
(let the kids help deal with the toys, do the clothes yourself), and label with size / season / child, etc.
Keep your teams focused, motivated and moving. Remember your purpose and stay on task:
- Don’t let your kids get hung up on playing, or on the little tiny details of toys (no Lego assembly!).
- Play fun music, keep everyone dancing. No TV, trust me.
- Allow for organized break times (if you just let them wander off, you may soon find yourself working alone.) and snacks.
- You can pull out team members for very specific tasks – sorting legos, loading up book shelves, collecting nerf pieces, etc.
- You could also shake it up, and have teams switch roles every hour, to keep them engaged.
- Wrap up the project within 3-4 hours, no one wants to work longer than that.
- And promise some fun at the end, like a big rowdy game or a special lunch or snack.
I was privileged to work with this great family on the project. The kids were a huge help! They were great at sorting through specific piles, and working on mini-projects (like tidying up the book shelves to make more room for more books). The big pay-offs for me were finding little tiny figures for the 4 year-old to play with (he was so happy!), and watching the big kids run-run-run around the space because they had “never been able to do that before!”. What would you like to accomplish today? Get to it!