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Strategies to get the entire family organized


Make clean up fun by challenging family members to do a five minute pick-up before bed each evening. Set the timer. The weekly winner gets to choose what’s for dessert one night.

The responsibility for keeping your family’s home organized and clean shouldn’t fall on just one person’s shoulders. Get everyone involved. Teenagers can benefit from a chores chart and even toddlers can learn to replace books back on a shelf and dump toys into a toybox.

First up, decide on a day when everyone is free to devote to the task as a family. When everyone pitches in vs. just mom or dad, everyone can then see what work is involved to keep a home organized and are more likely to help keep it that way year round. Other ideas:

† Make thoughtful lists of chores in each room as well as the garage, attic and outside areas. Estimate the time each chore should take, then add a half-hour to the estimate (you can always use left over time for family fun). Are any special abilities needed (ie: climbing a ladder or counting the number of empty storage bins) so tasks can be assigned to specific people?

† Some often overlooked to-dos include: clearing out under beds; going through the clothes closet; repairing items or replacing those past their usefulness.

† Running out of space for items you want to keep? Pretend that today is your first visit to your home. Look with a new eye to see if furniture can be rearranged or what underused spaces exist for storage.

† This is a great time of year to purchase storage containers, since a survey of stores in your area will prove there are a wide variety on display with discounted prices.

Make a quick assessment of how many you might need before heading out to the store. Buy a few small ones to group and nest crayons, toiletries, nuts and bolts in addition to larger ones.

† As you go through each room, make four piles of the belongings: Keep, Repair, Donate, Trash. Inevitably, family members will come across some items that they cannot immediately assign to a pile. (Keep? Donate?) If a consensus cannot be reached immediately, put a time limit on when a decision is due. Overnight can work well.

† When deciding where an item should be placed, enforce the “things of a kind rule” (it’s how your family will avoid spending a school morning looking for the green soccer T-shirt or matching sock).

All things belonging to the same person should be stored together: games, books, digital devices, shirts, pants, etc. belong together.

Gannet t News Service

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