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Simple Saving Savvy: Intentional Housekeeping Part 7: Systems for Kids

Simple Saving Savvy

Practicing Wise Stewardship & Blessing Others Out of Our Abundance

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Intentional Housekeeping Part 7: Systems for Kids

Here we are...into our first full week of 2010.  There's no better time to decide to get organized than going into a fresh new year. And no better time to finish out our Intentional Housekeeping series.

For the next couple of weeks we'll be discussing our children; how to help them learn organization and how they can help you be more productive. And consequentially, when everyone's organized and working together, quality time can abound.

The key to helping your children with organization and productivity is to put a few simple systems with realistic expectations in place. As I've said before, children respond well to structure. And when we teach them responsibility in the home and help them succeed in this area, we are actually equipping them for success outside the home.

Show me a teenager who generally has a cheerful disposition, is respectful to others (particularly their elders and those younger than them), is willing to help with any given task, and can stay on task with very little supervision and I'd be willing to bet they have been raised in a home where everyone is required to be a responsible member of the family by helping the household to run smoothly.

Of course, the ideal is to begin as early as possible with age appropriate expectations. But even if you're getting a late start, I believe it's never too late.

Around our home we believe in letting kids be kids. But we also believe that kids are capable of much more than we generally give them credit for. And with five kids running around between the ages of 8 and 11, there's considerable potential for chaos.

So here are a few systems we have put in place.

Our children earn allowance for weekly chores. During the school year we tend to be a little more lenient by giving them a lighter load. We feel that their school work, which seems to get greater every year, is their "job" and top priority. So we usually set aside one afternoon a week or weekend morning and everyone works on a few light chores.

During the summer, however, the workload increases and most certainly makes up for the lull during the school year. The summer is when we spend time learning new tasks and honing those we've already learned.

At this point I must note, that "chores" never include taking care of their own personal hygiene, cleaning their rooms or things like setting the table or helping clean up after dinner. These types of tasks are simply ways they contribute as responsible members of our family. They are required to do these things when reminded or asked with a cheerful and willing attitude.

Here we are again. Back at this point. This is something I strongly believe in. And kids can learn it too.

The kids have a home for everything in their bedrooms. Books, misc. toys, special things, projects, art supplies, sports equipment, clothes, etc. This makes cleaning up easy because there's never a question where to put things. I've seen this demonstrated at church as well. The children's rooms all have toys that are generally kept in certain spots. When hubby and I volunteer, the kids "remind" us where things go.

I also use this system around the house by using baskets or other containers to keep things orderly and contained.

The children know where to put things away and also where to look for something they need.

When the kids arrive home after school, their first priority is to unload their backpacks, placing any take home folders or other items I need to see in a specified basket. They empty their lunch kits and put them away and then put their backpacks and jackets away. Next is nightly reading and homework if they have it. If they have no homework, then they have free time provided they do not disturb those who have homework. When the finish their homework, this is also placed in the basket for my review.

I started the basket method when everyone got past kindergarten. I found that trying to dig through five backpacks and keep everything sorted out plus do sports and get dinner on the table could become quite stressful. I needed help.

With this routine, I can look through school papers and homework at my convenience. Everything is in one place so it goes quickly and can be  returned all at once to back packs in preparation for the next school day.

Another system I use pertains to clothing. Our children do not own alot of clothes. At the beginning of each season we have a "fashion show" where everyone tries on the clothes they owned from last year and also any hand-me-downs (my favorite) we may have acquired. I then weed out what doesn't fit to give away and put together 5-7 outfits for each child.

I make a list of items I may need to purchase to complete the wardrobe such as a certain color shirt, shorts, pants, etc.

Once the wardrobe is complete, we store it by outfits, either hanging together in the closet or in drawers. This way the kids never have to wonder what to wear with what or if something matches. This is especially helpful with the younger or "less fashion conscious" children.

Any lightly stained items or those with a hole or two go into a "play" drawer. These are the clothes they can wear out side and get as dirty as they want.

And by keeping the inventory to a minimum, it cuts down on laundry and the need for extra storage. We also use it to teach lessons about wise stewardship.

Also, when I do laundry, the kids take turns folding and hanging and then distributing to the various bedrooms OR I sort each child's clothing into piles and they take care of their own.

These are just a few of the systems we have implemented in our home. I hope it helps jog your creativity to figure out what might work for your family to involve everyone and cut down on the work and stress for just one person.

Next week we'll discuss chore organization and I'll share with you our summer routine. I'll also have a great giveaway.



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