By Heidi Meyer
“Who has left the towels on the floor again?” The replies come faster than you can imagine, “It’s not mine!”, “It wasn’t me!” and the squabbling begins. I’m sure that you have experienced this in resignation and to keep the peace, you quickly pick up after them.
Children need simple ways to assist them in taking ownership, organisation and developing a routine. Simplify your life by colour coding and labelling everything that has to do with your kids. Based on visual recognition, colour coding can teach them to organise their stuff, keep everything accessible and to keep things running smoothly. Teach them to clean up after themselves and if they do, praise them and if they don’t there should be consequences.
Assign a colour or let each child choose their favourite colour and from there everything starts to fall into place. Take the guessing out of, who the culprit is, leaving things lying around and who tows the line. Use colours and labels to determine ownership, keep track of items and put things away more easily. Have peace and be done with, “Hey, that’s mine!” or “It’s not me!”
- Colour dot stickers – use on books and puzzles, identical toys or gadgets even for chargers, wall plugs and cables.
- Dishes, lunch boxes and cups in each colour.
- Pencil Cases and bags
- Sharpie’s in different colours
- Name labels in their colour – if you pick up a colour pencil you immediately know whom it belongs to, without looking for the name.
Why colour code:
- Tooth brushes obviously for hygiene
- Dishes – so that you know what to put on or leave off according to dietary needs, at a glance, everyone knows which one to take and you can see if one is missing when washing up.
- Towels – in their colour or with their colour name label or their name embroidered in their colour on a white towel.
- Lunch Boxes – as for the dishes.
- Cups – cuts down on number of cups you need to wash. Keep only one out per person close to the drinks station
- Water Bottles – each one knows which to take to school and if theirs isn’t there they need to look for it.
- Laundry Baskets – simplify sorting the clothes during ironing. Place each person’s clothing in their basket .This takes the guessing out of to which cupboard it needs to be returned to and the older kids can take on the responsibility to put their own clothes away.
- Hangers – Use different colour hangers especially when sharing cupboards, keeping the clothes on separate sides of the cupboard.
- Clothes – Make a dot on the label or on the white school socks with a Sharpie. When they outgrow a garment and it is passed on, add another dot in the colour of the next kid or use iron on labels, in this way anyone can sort the laundry and get it to the right cupboard.
- Magnetic Chore Wall Chart - use different colour magnets to easily identify which chore they are on duty for.
- Schedule on Planners (White Boards). Divide the board up into 31 blocks for monthly activities or draw a block per person. Use the assigned colours in water soluble board markers to write in activities and notes – know at a glance who has what on and when? Add Perspex drop-in files per person or pigeon holes for school communication below the board. This will assist you as the parent to attend to what needs to be signed or paid on a daily basis. The kids will have to take the responsibility to put the communication into their pigeon hole on emptying their case, when getting home and returning it to their case before going to bed.
- Set up a Google Calendar with the unique colours chosen by each family member. Take the guessing out of who is doing what. Every time someone enters an appointment or event, it will display in their colour. Synchronise everyone’s activities – entered on a phone, I-pad or computer and can be viewed by everyone. In this way your child can enter his rugby matches after practise and you can see it in your office. This assists open communication; each one is aware of key events and can consider planning and organising activities, thus teaching important time management and life skills.
- Crates – Assign a crate per child in their assigned colour in the entry / departure zone, for them to place their bags and sport equipment upon return from school or sport practice. This will ensure that there is no rushing around looking for stuff in the morning and make for a calmer start to your day.
- Home work folders or school communication folders – ensure that you have seen and signed each child’s stuff.
Use personalised labels to keep track of:
- School Supplies
- Craft sets
- School books
- Shelves, drawers and storage containers – to make it easier to put things away. For the little ones that cannot read, make picture labels with words, this will stimulate them to read by assimilation.
- Label bags with off-season and hand-me-down clothing, indicate season and size. Store them in less accessible shelves and in cupboards.
- Use a combination of labels and colour coding to make tidying up an easy task. Teach your child to return stuff to its proper place after use. Introducing these organisational tools might be challenging at first, but will be well worth the effort in order to have a peaceful and more organised life in the end.