Organizing Month 8: Let the Kids Do It

Let the Kids Do itFor the month of September it only seems fair for us to close it out with a post about organizing for school. If you have been following along, I have been working my way through the book “One Year to an Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. If you need to check up you can click on the links here. So far we have tackled the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, garage, paperwork, travel and memorabilia.

Wow! It is amazing when you see it listed out, how far how far we have come. It is hard to believe this series is actually winding down to the end of the year. The journey to get organized has been so much more then just sorting stuff. There is unexpected emotion buried in the clutter of each room. However, we only have so much room in our heart, our head and our cabinet for it all. It has been really an exercise in the art of letting go.

This month was no different. It starts off as a clearing of space but it becomes about an emotional clean up as well. September is “Back to School,” and this chapter starts off by addressing how we feel this time of year.

I know how I feel. Rushed, hurried, hectic and disorganized. With two kids in school, we didn’t exactly ease out of summer into Fall. It felt like the school year kind of slapped me in the face and has been beating me up ever since. That is until I found a routine.

I talked about this in an earlier post here and the author goes into detail about the need to establish routines. These routines are intended to help your family have a better more productive year. The truth is it works.

She mentions things like meal planning, getting up 15  minutes earlier, setting up things the night before and establishing a chore list for your kids. When you actually put these ideas into practice you can see a visible difference in the pace of the day.

One of the things I am coming to gripes with this school year is that my children are a lot more capable then I give them credit for. They can make their own breakfast, pack lunch’s and can handle doing a lot more…I just have to let them.

The auther hits the nail on the head with what a lot of mothers(including myself) suffer from. It is perfectionism. We try to do everything for everyone and try to make everything in our home perfect.

By doing everything for our kids we are exhausting ourselves and not teaching our children valuable life skills. That could also be the reason mom’s feel such a stress with the start of school.  Moms see the school year as more work for us. However, we should be viewing it as a new start to establish new routines.

In an effort to get my children on a manageable routine my husband installed low hooks by the front door, so they can immediately hang up there bookbag upon entering our home. They are getting into a routine of emptying out their backpack of lunch boxes, water bottles nd homework folders. This had been a huge help for me.

This month the book address the space for our children. My house is small and becomes easily overwhelmed with kids toys, books and shoes spilling out of their rooms into the rest of the living areas.Organized Life

One of the smartest things in this chapter, and one I had not looked at, was designating areas of your house for different functions. For example what function  does your child’s bedroom serve? Is it a place to play, a place to do school work, a place of rest? What does the set-up and function of this room signal to your child?

My kids room signaled chaos, too much stuff that there was not enough bins, baskets and shelves to hold. It was time for a clean out. Also, this chapter got me thinking. Was this chaos filled, toy cluster space where I wanted my children to try and do school work?  A room filled with distractions, toys, and mess? So mentally I designated their bedrooms for playing, dressing  and sleeping.

Since at this time there was no designated reading area in their rooms I decided the living room couch (with the tv off) would be a good spot for reading. However, for homework there was no better spot then the kitchen table where me and my husband could cook dinner while being on hand to answer homework questions.

With the room functions determined the next thing to do was get to cleaning. I have been much better about cleaning out old toys and outgrown items in my daughters room. However, I have been a total slacker when it comes to my sons room. After his birthday last month I never got around to cleaning out his closet of old toys and clothes and stuff has accumulated everywhere.

Of course I included him in the clean out process and let him reorganizes some of the space to make it more useful to him. But I came to the realization his furniture, which was hand me down baby furniture) was just too big for his room.

We began the daylong task of getting rid of stuff and when we finished 5- 20 gallon bags of donations, junk and trash were removed from his small bedroom. He discovered toys he had not seem in months because they were under the bed or hidden behind other toys.

As I mentioned his infant set dresser and hand me down bed no longer worked for him. My heart kind of hurt in realizing my little boy was growing into a big boy that needed non-baby furniture.  Unfortunaly, I don’t have the money to purchase new furniture but I am hoping to repaint and repurpose what he has and make it a better space for him.

One of the final steps as mentioned in the book, was to re-establish a chore routine. Our children have been doing chores pretty regularly over the summer,  but with the start of school we kind of fell off the well cleaned wagon.

This month something else happened that made me realize I needed to let my kids do more. My back went out. I mean really went out. I was immobilized, could not bend and walked like a question mark. So that meant no laundry, no cooking, no picking up stray socks strewn  about the house. It just wasn’t going to happen. So they HAD to help me…more importantly I had to let them. This may not seem like a big deal but for someone who shrugs of help and tried to muscle on and do it all. It was a real eye-opener.

Maybe they felt pity for me but whatever the reason it worked. They started helping out more without being asked and (finally) put their  shoes and socks where they belong. No nagging, no negotiating, they are just doing it because I stopped enabling them.

The last section of this chapter is about volunteering. You know when you are already short on time, and don’t feel like you can squeeze another thing in. Then your PTA friend asks if you can help with the Fall fundraiser and you agree. Your church asked if you would help organize the bake sale and even thought you have no idea how you will fit it in you say ok. This is not something specific to the school year, but is something moms find we do all to often. We say “yes” when we really should be saying “no.” I absolutely love the practical 5-step way the author uses to evaluate if you can say “yes.” These steps remove the emotion from the situation and break it down. Could the art of saying “no” really be that simple. Apparently, it can.

 

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