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  • Writer's pictureTina Mader

Organizing for Life: True or False on Organized Living

Child playing with toys. Organizing has a play in the playroom.

True or False: You have children and their toys are laying around your home your home. Are you a slob?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who said that their daughter needed my expertise because she is a not the most efficient house keeper. When we talked, I learned that she has 7 kids and works from home. My instincts told me that this woman is overwhelmed. I have 4 children and I couldn’t keep up with all the demands in the home, I can’t even imagine having 7. I was very lucky that her daughter allowed me to come into her home and assess the situation. Their space is honestly very beautiful. I can see what needs to be organized, but her home was a far cry from being dirty or unkempt. Her daughter is a lovely woman who runs a business in her basement. She creates different mediums of art and she has her supplies chaotically organized around the small space. She could benefit from a wall system from Ikea along with simple labels, but I could see exactly what she did and where everything was. Would this family benefit from a housekeeper? Yes, but the home was kid clutter, not dirty, and it was a relatively small space.

When my children were young, my Nana would come over and say, ‘my, you keep all your toys out on the floor.' I remember being so embarrassed and confused. The kids had a few toys scattered in the living room and the rest were in the toy box, but my home was clean. I always tried to foster my children’s imagination. When they were still playing with something at bedtime I didn’t ask them to clean up. They worked so hard to get everything the way they wanted it and clearly they were not done. Every night we had a 5 minute tidy session and whatever we could accomplish in that time is what we got done. I’d rather read and snuggle with them than stress out over toys on my floor. I believe this fostered their trust in me and they knew I respected them and their creativity. When the game was done we worked together to put everything away. My children are grown now and I miss my dinning room being a giant pillow fort, the spaghetti army on the family room carpet, and the glitter bombs on my table. The time we have with our children playing is so short and I’m so very grateful for our memories of playtime.

Child playing. Organizing has a place in the toy room.

Answer: Having a few toys laying around does not mean that your home is dirty, it’s being lived in and it’s full of fun and love. Have a home for each group of toys with picture labels so you can work together to keep their space tidy.

True or False: Once you organize a space you are done!

Answer: False!

Our lives are always changing therefore the function of our home is always changing. We need to be flexible and learn to rezone areas to help support our dynamic lives.

As my children grew so did the clutter! Gone were the days of stepping on legos and finding petrified bologna in their play vanity. Toy boxes were being moved out to make room for gaming systems. The toy vanity and play makeup found new homes so real functional vanities and Sephora supplies could move in. Glitter bombs and slime were no longer being made in the kitchen, now it was full of stress and tears over homework. School days added a whole new dimension of time management, paper clutter, and lost homework. It took me a while to realize I needed to rezone my home to make it functional for us. I honestly had a tough time getting rid of their toys, but we needed the space and they were no longer interested in the pretend tea parties.

True or False: My children need to have an organized backpack?

Answer: True!

School children carrying backpacks. Organizing one’s backpack is key to success.

Oh my goodness I wish I knew this from the beginning. My children would have been saved so many tears and stressful moments. I have always been organized and didn’t know that I had to teach this skill. My children would come home with their homework all crumpled at the bottom of their backpacks. As they did their homework the paper would rip since it was so worn from sitting under their books as a liner for their bags. When they were done with the work they would toss it somewhere to be dealt with later. There were times I’d accidentally throw it out thinking it was garbage due to its state and location. Many times my children would go to school and become overcome by anxiety when they couldn't find their work. It was never put in a spot where they could easily grab it. When that happened, cue the tears and feelings of inadequacy. This was 100% on me and I knew it. We went through many different styles of organizing until we found the right one for each child. Ultimately what worked best for my children was one very large binder that housed all their subjects. In the beginning the teachers helped by checking to see if the work was

Child has too many binder. We need to simplify organizing for children.

put into the corresponding folders - we had amazing teachers! When they got home they got a snack and started right in on homework. I know some families take a break before homework, but for us it worked best as soon as they got home. They went through their binder in order and we left the binder open in front of them so they could easily replace the work as they finished. While they worked I would make dinner. This allowed me to be close by and see how they were doing. If they were struggling I stepped in to help. This process was key to my children’s success in school. It reduced anxiety and gave them a sense of control.

True or False: Teaching our children how to clean and organize are life long skills?

Answer: True!

Organizing for life is a skill that is taught. Let’s start at Square 1: When our children are young we teach them that every night we tidy up our day’s activities. We also show them that it’s ok to take a break on a project in order to get a new perspective on it. We teach them to respect others areas of work. Finally we teach them a balance between cleaning and enjoying our time. As our children grow we teach them flexibility around our needs. Our home functions for our needs at a moment in time. We need to grow and adapt as things change. We teach them how to be productive members of society by making sure they know how to turn work in on time, reduce stress and anxiety by having everything organized and easily accessible, and giving them the confidence on how to succeed.

I especially believe that life long organizational skills are needed for those who have ADHD and autism. I have personal experience dealing with the struggles they present, and can confirm how powerful organization can be. Teaching theses skills were life changing for my children.

Please share your thoughts with us. How did you teach yourself, children, friends, and family how to be better prepared?

My family: 2023

All my love and gratitude,


Square 1 Organizing

My family 2013

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