Read an Excerpt
Kids' Stuff and What to Do with It
By Leigh Rollar Mintz
ZondervanCopyright © 2000 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGiving the Gift of organization to Your child
* * *
If your life is anything like mine, you sometimes have a hard time keeping your head above water. Sometimes I find my plate overloaded with so many difficult things that I look up to God and cry "enough already!" Especially in times like these, I look to him to calm me down and reassure me. I have to admit, though, there have been days when it took awhile for me to hear his message. But he has been patient with me.
I want to share with you a very personal and embarrassing story. It happened about two weeks before my book was due. After a very long and tiring day of organizing houses, running to meet the kids' school bus, supervising homework, a rushed dinner, and baseball practice for my son, we finally made it back home around 9:30. Both kids were dirty, tired, and cranky because it was already an hour past their bedtime.
After I got Cameron and Collin cleaned up and in bed, I walked into the kitchen and was greeted with a sink full of dishes, snack-littered counters, and a pile of laundry on the table. My bedroom looked even worse. I was exhausted and knew that I had hours of work to do on my book. I was so tired and discouraged I just sat down at the sink and started to cry. I cried louder and louder and called out to God in despair. In my frustration, I began carelessly tossing pots and pans into the cabinet without any thought to the clattering sounds that resulted-I was completely and totally overwhelmed.
Apparently, Cameron heard all the noise and came downstairs to check on me. I'm sure it was scary for my son to see me "lose it." I had never lost my composure so completely, and the whole scene upset both of us. Cameron was frightened, and I was even more upset than before because I had unwittingly drawn him into my feelings of hopelessness. Fortunately, I managed to calm down pretty quickly and reassure him that everything was really all right, but the episode that night was a learning experience for me.
I realized that if I took just a little time to put things back in place, I would feel better. It worked! In only fifteen minutes, I got my house back to relative order. I know that there are times when my emotions make me feel like things are worse than they really are, but that's another whole book! The key to my getting everything back in order was organization. I had a place for everything.
But what would have happened if I hadn't already made a place for everything? If that had been the case, fifteen minutes wouldn't have made a dent in the mess, and I would have felt completely out of control. As it was, my frustration was short-lived. This experience gave me new insight into the feelings of a chronically disorganized person when she faces clutter day in and day out. And when I think of the children of a disorganized person, I have to ask myself, "How do they feel?"
If you bought this book, you already have the desire to get your home and your child organized. That's the vital first step! This book is loaded with ideas to help you through the process. I would like to share with you some ways in which children benefit when we, as parents, help them to become more organized.
It makes them feel secure. A child gains a profound sense of security when she knows each of her possessions has an assigned place and that she can count on finding the things she needs.
It makes them feel special. When we make special places for his things, our child receives the message that he is important and special to us. Children take great pleasure in knowing special places are created in the home just for them.
It teaches them to be responsible. When a child is taught to keep his possessions in order, he learns valuable lessons about becoming a responsible and dependable person. When he is taught how to accomplish these tasks and then shows responsibility by performing the tasks without direct supervision, he feels proud of himself.
It teaches them appreciation for all God has given them. When a child is taught to take care of his things, he gains more respect for his possessions and more appreciation for his parents and the many other blessings in his life. When he learns to appreciate his own things, he is more likely to be considerate of the possessions of others.
It prevents frustration and confusion. When a child knows where to find his things and knows where to return them, he is far less frustrated in everyday life. Not only does an orderly home reduce daily stress for your child, it also brings less chaos and more peace to the entire family.
It helps them be productive. When a child does not have to waste time searching for his clothes, his toys, or his school supplies, he is able to accomplish more in less time.
It makes them feel they are a vital part of the family structure. When a child realizes that she is responsible for some contribution in the care of the home, she feels she is a vital part of the family.
It promotes good hygiene. By color coding or otherwise designating which personal items are for the exclusive use of each child, you eliminate confusion over what belongs to whom. Illness will be better controlled if your children are not sharing toothbrushes, washcloths, or drinking cups.
It teaches confidence. When we have high expectations for what our children can do, we give them confidence in themselves. Too often, we rob our children of feeling successful by taking care of things for them. Have confidence in them, and they will be more confident children. Furthermore, if your child perceives that she is capable, she is more likely to set higher goals for herself.
It encourages more playtime variety. When your child's toys are organized, he will be able to see what is actually there and will play with a wider variety of toys. Easy access to creative tools such as markers, drawing paper, and craft kits will help develop artistic skills; shelved books at kids' eye level will encourage reading; neatly stacked games and activity toys stored within sight will be enjoyed more often. Keep toys visible, and they won't be forgotten.
It can be lifesaving in emergencies. Organized family emergency plans can save the life of your child in a crisis situation.
It provides a foundation for the rest of their lives. When a child experiences consistency and routine at home, he develops a sense of structure that carries over into school life and beyond. The examples we set and the lessons we teach our young children have far-reaching effects. We are laying the foundation for their future.
These are some important reasons for us to keep our homes organized! Whenever you feel completely frazzled, stop and remember why it is so important to have order for your children.
Each child is unique and will benefit from organization in different ways. It can be quite discouraging to work really hard at bringing order to your home and feel as though your child hasn't learned a thing. Don't give up! Children always learn from their parents-we are their models! So even if you think that getting organized is a wasted effort for your child, try to remember that he is learning, even if it doesn't seem like it.
My son Cameron is a good example. He is the creative-messy type, and his room can get quite scary at times. I would like for his room to be more orderly, but it's his room. When I do ask him to clean it up, it shocks me how quickly he can put everything in place. He does a really great job! I have taught him lessons about order, and he has learned from me even though he isn't naturally inclined to be neat. Have faith that your teaching will pay off!
One word of caution ... don't expect to have a perfect child, or to be the perfect parent. Such an objective is impossible and will inevitably lead to disappointment. So, don't be obsessed with neatness, just make a consistent effort to minimize clutter.
If you have made the decision to bring more order to your life, set realistic goals. It's tough to change old habits, so don't expect instant results! And don't feel discouraged if your children are older and you feel you haven't taught them enough about order. It's never too late to learn-for you or for your child.
Listed below are some things to keep in mind as you are on the road to organized kids!
Be consistent! Follow through on any organizational changes, and get your children into the habit of picking up after themselves.
Make time to get organized. Schedule the time required to implement your plan.
Doing a little is better than doing nothing at all. Set up organizational systems a few at a time.
During organizing and chore times, maintain a cheerful attitude and encourage your child.
As soon as they can crawl, teach your children to help with cleaning up.
Work together with your spouse to teach your child the concept of cooperation.
Excerpted from Kids' Stuff and What to Do with It by Leigh Rollar Mintz Copyright © 2000 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.