Organizing Your Home to Foster Your Kids’ Independence
Parenting is all about teaching children how to fend for themselves in an increasingly difficult and stressful world. From an early age, it’s important to give them as many opportunities as possible to learn how to live an independent life.
While this is a difficult job (to say the least), there are many ways to help foster a sense of independence in your children from the safety and comfort of your own home. While there are many things you can do to encourage your children to take risks and become self-reliant, one thing you might not immediately think could help is to organize your home in such a way that encourages independence.
Room By Room Organization
Check out this room-by-room home organization guide that will set up you and your family for an easier transition to independence.
If you’re anything like most families out there, your entryway is chock-full of backpacks, shoes, and coats with little sense of order. Organize your entryway space with locker-style cubbies, hooks, and baskets for each family member. Label each area so your kids know what belongs where and encourage them to tidy away their things when they enter the house.
Living Room / Family Room
While a family living room is meant for, well, family living, it’s still nice to have a space that is free from clutter and mess. Invest in an accessible entertainment unit to house video game consoles, remote controls, and other toys and accessories and make sure your kids clean up after themselves after playing games or watching TV.
If your kids have their own playroom, ensure it is kept neat and tidy with a regular cleaning schedule. Older siblings can help younger ones with more difficult tidying jobs. Labeled shelves, storage units, and clear boxes help your kids know which toys belong where and keep clutter from accumulating on the floor and play spaces.
Dining Room & Kitchen
For the keen cooks among us, it can sometimes be hard to relinquish workspace in the kitchen and pantry. Give your children their own cupboard (or a few shelves at the very least) so they can help themselves to healthy, portioned snacks and drinks whenever they want them, within reason of course. With any luck, this will give you more time to actually get something on the table for dinner rather than repeatedly rushing back and forth for more snacks after school.
Safety comes first in bathrooms and other spaces where cleaning products or medicines are kept, so make sure anything potentially hazardous to your children is kept well out of reach or locked away.
If you have young children, make sure to have a step stool in every bathroom so they can reach the sink for hand-washing. Also, keep the bathroom well stocked for independent toileting. Independence in the bathroom takes some time, so remember to be patient and model positive behaviors for your children, such as flushing, washing hands, and tidying up after yourself.
Kids’ bedrooms are notoriously filthy, but it’s important to choose your battles wisely. If your children know how their room should look at the end of the day, make sure they are doing their part to independently clear up any toys, clothes, and other messes.
The bedroom closet is a key area here, so good organization is essential. Separate clothes into drawers, bins, and hanging rails according to type, labeling as you go (pro tip: even the youngest members of your family can understand where things belong if you take pictures of clothes and use them as your labels).
If you’ve organized your whole house but still feel like there are toys and clothes everywhere, consider keeping a large wicker or jute basket next to every doorway. Let your children know that these are catchall baskets and that they should pick up anything they find at the end of the day and put it into the basket (provided it doesn’t have another obvious home). This will keep all your living spaces neat and tidy, as well as leaving you much smaller cleaning jobs later.
Kaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. Her writing is featured on Modernize.com and a number of home decor sites around the web. She can also be found blogging from time to time on her personal blog, A Vicar’s Wife.