It seems that there is a strong cultural pull toward giving our kids a really great childhood. And by “really great childhood,” I mean a perpetual Disney-like experience. A childhood that is nothing but carefree and fun. A childhood free from work, free from demands, expectations, and responsibility.
Of course that is what we want for them. No one wants to bring back sweatshops.
But in this desire to give our kids “great childhoods,” we can easily forget that this short piece of their lives is really a time of preparation. This is the time they get to prepare for life as an adult, without the demands, expectations, and responsibilities that accompany it.
When it comes to cleaning and organizing, this is one area where we moms often feel conflicted.
We want our kids to know how to clean up after themselves, to care for their stuff…but we also feel that they have a lot of other things already on their plate. Between school and extracurricular activities, it feels like some of our kids barely have free time to play. Adding chores- especially household-wide chores- can feel like we are loading them with a burden they are not meant to bear.
With this background in mind, here I present to you three reasons why you should take the time and effort to teach your kids how to organize, even in the midst of crazy-full schedules:
1. By teaching your kids how to organize, you empower them.
A kid who understands how to bring order from chaos is a kid who has power over his space.
You and I both have probably felt this truth: outward order produces inward peace. After a huge cleaning spree, when the house is back “how it should be” do we not all sigh relief? There are times when I will clean out a drawer just for this specific purpose- so I can walk past the drawer- open this small oasis of order, and soak in the serenity.
Our kids are no different. Outward order brings inward peace. When you teach a child how to bring order, you are giving him a tool to help bring personal peace into his own space. If he is feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts, he has the ability to organize and put things where they should be- he can actually DO something about it.
2. They need to learn to live well with stuff
We are a society blessed (and burdened) with a plethora of stuff. It can be such a gift…and such a source of overwhelm. But barring some catastrophe, stuff is here to stay. As such, we owe it to our kids to teach them to live well with the stuff of life.
Oh, it’s so tempting to load up all of the mess and haul it away. In fact, there was a time when our kids were smaller, that we did just that. We took big black bags, loaded up every toy, book, and animal (except for one each) and packed them away in the basement. We were tired of the broken stuff, the mess, the chaos. We didn’t know what else to do.
And while it was nice for a while- for us AND for them, this wasn’t really a solution…because the reality is that life as an adult involves belongings. We have to teach them how to live well–even with the stuff.
Order is a necessary piece of that puzzle. A pretty shelf full of books is a blessing. A pile of tattered books or books scattered on the floor, getting stepped on and destroyed, is nothing but stressful. Legos, stored in one place, ready for dreams and designs, are a blessing. Legos under your feet as you make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Have you seen this popular meme? Truth, I tell you.
3. Order is Contagious
When you learn how to organize, you learn principles, not particulars, and those are transferable. When they understand how to make a space feel “put to order” they can apply it to any area.
Once they feel the peace and calm that comes from a little pocket of order, they really want to expand that feeling. And as such, order in the drawer will expand to order in the fridge, which will expand to order in a bedroom.Honestly, who doesn’t want to unleash a band of organizing Ninja’s in their home?
Remember, the beauty of cultivating the habit of order is that it is not really about results- you aren’t aiming at a perfect house as much as growing this habit…and as such, you are free to encourage your kids and delight in the process.