This is not the blog post I had planned for this week. While I was planning on writing about ‘why organizing is important,’ I was taking a different tack until real life intervened.
Those of you that follow me on Instagram may have seen the picture I posted this week captioned “Labels on toy bins help kids learn valuable organization skills.” This is not a new idea nor did I come up with it but it is an important one that I like to convey particularly to parents because it teaches that there is a place for everything. When you know where something goes, it is much easier to put it back after use. Imagine my surprise when a “friend” commented that “it only teaches them conformity and is only important if they are going to be a shelf stocker at Toys R Us.”
Wow! That really got me thinking. Is organization just about following stupid, inane rules that turns us all into lemmings? Is there no value in having the skill of organization? Is teaching your kids to pick up their toys and take care of their possessions merely conforming to societal norms instead of learning independence and creative problem solving? Of course not, silly.
But here is what your kids DO learn by being organized:
- Being organized is a skill, first and foremost, and it is not one that everyone has learned. I just heard Diane Quintana, an expert on the topic, speak on Chronic Disorganization who explained that people with this affliction have never learned how to sort and group like items together nor have they learned the process for putting things away or in the trash. They don’t think that an empty soda can needs to be thrown away because they were never taught that skill. So many organization strategies we take for granted like keeping short sleeve t-shirts separate from shorts or throwing trash in the waste bin need to be taught and, parents, thank you for doing just that!
- They learn independence and self reliance. Because you’ve taught your child that Legos go in one box and stuffed animals another, they can put toys away on their own. It won’t happen the first (or maybe even the second through tenth) time you ask them but once you’ve taught them where THEIR toys/clothes/books, etc go, they are on the path to being able to put things away without your NEEDING to intervene. Ultimately, they know they don’t have to rely on Mommy and Daddy to do everything for them. You have to start somewhere and where better than the toy bin or a closet? Teach self reliance and gain a confident child in return.
- They learn the value of accomplishment. I’m a bed making evangelist and will preach long and loud about its importance. And I’m not talking about hospital corners and bouncing quarters–just get the cover over the mattress. 🙂 Making their bed and putting their clothes and toys away teaches children that if they can accomplish small tasks, they can also accomplish large tasks. It teaches goal setting and achievement. And who doesn’t love getting into a made bed at the end of a long day? It feels good to accomplish something! It doesn’t matter how small.
- They can create calm in the middle of chaos. Just putting your toys away or picking dirty clothes up off the floor is physically creating calm and order. Once they learn that THEY are in control of their surroundings, they are empowered to make changes. They don’t just react to external stimuli and fall apart at anything negative. They are empowered because they know they can find calm and order in cluttered environments.
- They learn to share with others less fortunate. Part of taking responsibility for their toys and clothes also means they learn to pass on to others what they are not using and not be so attached to inanimate objects. Now is a perfect time of year to go through closets and toy bins to pull out what they’ve outgrown so they can be given to others in need. As they learn to give to others, they also learn to appreciate what they have.
Being organized is not about having perfectly arranged closets with alphabetized cans all facing the same direction. It’s not just for kids. It’s a valuable skill that will serve you your entire life. It’s about taking responsibility for what you have and respecting your home and environment.
Learning to take a negative comment and find something positive in it takes a little more practice. Fortunately, I have communication expert, Mixonian Institute, on my side who advises that you can interpret other people’s comments to be positive or negative; it’s your choice. Thank you, Mixonian, and thank you, negative person, for inspiring this post today.
If you want to see more comment provoking pictures, please follow me on Instagram @neatsmartcmp.