Part 3 of 5 in the “Five Most Common Back-to-School Problems and How To Fix Them” series.
THE #3 PROBLEM ~ Stuff Management, or how to avoid the daily “Have you seen my . . . . . . . .backpack, lunch box, sport shoes, violin, maths book, rugby socks, glasses, glue stick? What’s the best way to help your kids manage their stuff so it can be found, used, cleaned, read, written-in and turned-in to the right place at the right time?
Like learning how to get up on time and eat healthfully, learning how to manage stuff is probably one of the most important lessons that 10+ years in school will offer your child.
See if these 3 ideas help.
1. STRUCTURE THE STUFF
Stuff needs a home. Unless you’ve got a place for everything, everything will never be in place. Brainstorm with your kids – they’re probably way more creative and inventive than you. Then together welcome the stuff to its home base.
Where will it be?
- Hooks in the front hall?
- Cubbies in the closet?
- Huge hampers in the playroom?
- A bedroom corner?
2. MANAGE THE STUFF
“How is the stuff ever going to get to home-base?” By your children being willing to consistently use the structure you’ve put in place.
“And why would they?” Because you care enough to train them.
It’s the rare child who defaults to tidy. But you can get kids on board if it’s important to you.
Like everything else I write about – by having a conversation with your child/ren along the lines of:
“OK team, I’m resigning as “Chief Stuff Manager.” Now you’ve each got your very own stuff hamper in the front hall and it’s up to each of you to think about how to manage your stuff. Here’s home base. If you take something out, put it back when you’re done. If you find someone else’s item elsewhere – pop it in their hamper. If you’re looking for something of yours – look in the hamper. What else can we do?”
You can figure out some fun additional tips and rules if this seems to add to the buy in.
3. DELEGATE THE CONSEQUENCES
This is key.
Your kids will test your resolve as the newly resigned “Chief Stuff Manager.”
So, on day 3 when Mike’s in a total morning panic because he can’t find his left soccer shoe, ask yourself:
“What is ultimately best for Mike? That he have this chance to learn an important life lesson about being responsible for his own things so one day he might be responsible with other people’s things – their business, money, projects, work? Or is it better for him to see that rules can be bent and commitments broken so other people can rescue him?”
In the face of missing stuff ask:
“Whose problem is this? Who could most benefit from this life lesson?”