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Mom doing homework with child“Mommy, Mommy, please stop! I have forgotten my gym clothes!” brings me to an abrupt stop, with my blood pressure rising! How on earth will I ever get my kids organised, such that we have a calm morning and a less stressed life!

Most kids, like some adults, generate some chaos or disorganisation – forgetting things, leaving stuff lying around, failing to concentrate and completing tasks.

Now the question is, “Is there anything that can be done about a person who is not naturally organised?” Fortunately organisation is a crucial skill that can be learnt. With some assistance and practice, due tasks can get done, leading to a happier and more effective life.

Be a role model

We all know that children learn by example. You are the best person to teach them, you are their coach in a life skill that is not taught at any educational institution!

Provide needed support 

Guide them through the process of getting organised. Encourage your toddler to help with clean-up while guiding him to pick up certain items and putting them where they belongs. Gradually add more tasks as they get older. It will be well worth your time and effort once they have learned to be independent.

Have a place for everything and have everything in its place

Just like we have a home to return to every day, so each activity should have a designated place where it is done and each item should have a home to return to after having been used. Label containers or shelves to indicate where things stay. Guide your children through tasks, like putting used dishes straight in the dishwasher, clothes in the laundry bin, completed homework back in the school case, putting out their clothes and everything they need, ready for the next day.

Get buy-in

Explain the advantages of getting tasks or chores done in an efficient way. They will have more time to play, to spend on a favourite hobby or activity. There will definitely be less nagging when they abide by it.

Communicate – Ask the three Q’s

Discuss the what, when and how, when it comes to completing tasks.

Start with any task or chore that is causing a challenge. During the process ask questions and be the motivator, giving them guidance what to do next or helping them bridge a challenge. Let them see tasks as a series of questions and answers that have to be followed to get to a final result.

Have set routines

Perform certain tasks at the same time, setting a routine for the everyday activities. It minimizes the thought that goes into trying to remember what needs to be done next. Children benefit greatly from a set routine with boundaries, as it gives them security and confidence in knowing what to expect. Eat breakfast at the same time, do homework when coming home from school, have a set bedtime. Determine what works and stick to it.

Place a list of tasks that need to be done, in your children’s rooms, this will prepare them to create their own to-do lists and to schedule tasks. Gently remind them, that they have 15 minutes to pack their toys away before dinner and don’t forget to praise them, if a task is completed in time, this will create a sense of accomplishment.

Once routines are established, they become habits and time is managed more effectively. Things start happening automatically as actions become consistent.  By having a routine you are teaching your children good time management skills.

Break each task down to 3 manageable steps

Let’s look at a simple task like brushing your teeth:

  • Collect your suppliesGet ready.  You’ll need a toothbrush, toothpaste, water and a basin.
  • Focus on the task at handDo it! Moisten the toothbrush. Put your toothpaste on the brush.  Brush your teeth for 3 minutes. Rinse your mouth. Focus on what you are doing even if you remember something else that still needs to be done – keep it in mind and finish the task.
  • Finish up – Pack away and tidy up! – You are only done if everything relating to the task is done – Rinse the toothbrush. Close the tap. Put the toothbrush in the holder. Close the toothpaste. Put it away. Rinse the basin. Wipe your face and hang up the towel.


Once children have mastered these three basic skills, they will be able to complete any task efficiently and on time. This will build their self-worth.


Children are different, but they need to learn that there are consequences for their actions. Neglecting tasks as prescribed, must lead to corrective counselling. Don’t let it go, if you relent you are setting yourself and the system up for failure. If Johnny knows that you will turn back every time to fetch his gym clothes, he will never learn that being disorganised will have consequences and make him try harder to remember what needs to come along, when it it’s needed.

Celebrate your success

Now that everyone knows what to do and when, the stress should become less, leaving you and your children more in control and perhaps, lead to more peaceful days.

As a parent you are the model and you carry the responsibility to guide, support and care for your children. Give them time to show them the way to become organised and in so doing, giving them a life skill from which you and they will benefit over and over in years to come!

Heidi Meyer