Getting Your Family Organized
Getting organized is not just about organizing yourself. It’s about organizing your family as well. No man (or woman) can do it alone – at least not without driving themselves crazy!
From time to time, I have been asked by my clients to help them not only get better organized around the house but get the rest of the family involved in the process. It is vital that every member of the family participate in creating and maintaining an organized home.
I have worked with large families, small families, single parents and blended families. With each family comes different challenges but when working one-on-one with the family, I am able to create a plan that works.
Here are some suggestions that you can incorporate into your family plan:
HOLD FAMILY MEETINGS One of the best ways to keep the communication flowing with your immediate family members is to hold weekly family meetings. Set aside one day each week to sit around the table with everyone to discuss upcoming plans, fill in the family calendar, review upcoming family vacations, decide on weekly meals, address school issues, etc. Make this mandatory, even if your kids sigh at the thought. Keep it positive. Try to keep the meeting under 30 minutes.
GIVE EVERYONE THINGS TO DO The household chores and errands should never fall on one single household member’s shoulders. Most often they fall on Mom. Make a list of everything that needs to be done each week. Then assign tasks among all of the family members. (See information on creating a Weekly Responsibility Chart below.) And remember, even toddlers can help in one way or another. The responsibilities assigned should be age appropriate. It’s best to teach family responsibilities from a young age.
GET ON THE SAME PAGE WITH YOUR SPOUSE Children need consistency. If you’re always telling your kids to pick up after themselves, and your spouse lets things slide and either picks up after the kids or doesn’t even pick up after themselves, then your kids are going to get mixed messages. When husbands and wives make rules that they both agree upon, then the kids must adhere to them also. You will find that there will be much less resistance and frustration this way.
MAKE IT REWARDING If there’s never a reward for doing something, what’s the fun in that? Some families give kids allowances for doing their chores. Other families clean and organize together and then celebrate with a pizza party or a movie when everything is complete. Younger children are generally thrilled to build up “stars” or “stickers” for jobs well done. They can then turn them in for prizes, like helping Mom bake cookies or going to the park with Dad. Older children tend to work better with either an allowance or the promise to be able to do something special. It’s best to build up towards the reward as opposed to taking away from the reward. Remember, keep it positive!
When I work with families, I start by conducting the first family meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to get everyone together and focused. I provide the parents with some guidelines to create a list of all of the responsibilities involved in running the household.
I help the family create a Weekly Responsibility Chart. The purpose of the chart is not only to put the chores the children need to be responsible for, but also include the parents’ responsibilities. It is important for the children to see that everyone is involved in the process.
The list is then divided up among the members of the household, keeping in mind the chore or responsibility needs to be age appropriate. The tasks are then added onto the Weekly Responsibility Chart.
The next step is to create the Reward Chart. The children will be able to see, on a weekly basis, how they are progressing towards their rewards.
Both the Weekly Responsibility Chart and the Reward Chart should be prominently displayed either on a kitchen wall, in the mud room, on the inside of a door or any central location in the home. The goal is to create an atmosphere where the entire family functions as a unit.
The parents should make sure they get together with each child, one-on-one, so they can discuss which chores they will be responsible for on a weekly basis and how the reward system will work. The parents will also have their responsibilities listed on the chart. Remember, it is important for the children to see that the parents are also participating, not just giving orders. The children can clearly see what those responsibilities are.
Consistently keeping the family unit working well together takes some effort but everyone involved will benefit.