YOU Are The Role Model

are you modeling good habits for getting and staying organized?
Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

If you are a parent, you know your kids are watching you. You watch your language, use good manners and set an example of healthy eating & exercise, among other things. But are you modeling good habits for getting and staying organized? If your answer is “No!” because you struggle yourself, why not try out the following ideas?

Many times I hear adults bemoaning the state of their space: “My house is a disaster!” or “I’ll never get this place cleaned up.” Phrases like these connote that getting organized is an unpleasant, impossible task. Even if you feel this way, this isn’t a mindset you want to pass on to your children. Instead, practice using words and phrases that show organizing is…

Part of the Daily Routine…

“Time to put toys back in their places, brush teeth, and put pajamas on.”

“Let’s open up those back packs and get your papers in the right bins. Who can find their bin?”


“Let’s put on some heart pumping music and get this room in order!”

“Who can toss the beanies and get them into this bin?”

“My girlfriend Miss Seana is coming over today and we are going to organize”


“I love this time of day… I’m gonna go get my space ready for the morning. Want to do yours?”

“Mom and Dad are having our weekly planning meeting. Do you want to bring your homework planner and be a part of this meeting?”

There are some basic tasks that are critical for getting and staying organized. Use phrases like these to model and teach kids to…

Establish a Home for Every Belonging…

“I won’t be able to put this away if I don’t give it a home. Now where should my new shoes live?”

“Your new American Girl doll needs a home… where do you want her to live?”

Restore Order Regularly…

“It’s 11:00/4:00… time for Mommy to restore order in the kitchen. Do you want to help?”

“Dinner will be ready soon. Time to take all your toys home for the night.”

Take One Out When A New One Comes In…

“That new computer game does look fun. Which one should we give away to make space for it?”

“I need a new dress. I’m just standing here thinking about which one I want to donate so I have space for the new one”

Take Care of What They Own…

“I’m hanging up my coat because I love it and I need to take care of it”

“I found this truck on the floor and I almost stepped on it. It needs to be put in its home so it doesn’t get broken.”

Many of us hold onto items for the wrong reasons: guilt, fear, unrealistic expectations, laziness, etc. Teaching kids that getting new stuff is fun but shedding older belongings is a chore could result in bad adult habits. Instead, encourage children to view donating items as a regular part of life.

Set up a “Donations” Bin…

“I’m just putting my old sweater in the donations bin. Do you have something to add?”

“That shirt no longer fits… off to the donations bin it goes!”

Make “Donating” Part of the Regular Routine…

“It’s Friday morning, time to find 5 things I can share with the needy. Do you want to find something?”

Take Advantage of Special Opportunities…

“I have more books than I am reading and our library is having a book drive. I love helping so I’m going to find a few to give away”

“Let’s find an old coat to donate at school coat drive today”

*      *      *      *      *

Like it or not, kids will replicate our behavior and mimic our words. Why not be a role model for productive habits?

What tips have you found helpful for teaching good organizing habits to children?


34 thoughts on “YOU Are The Role Model”

  1. We totally donate clothes and old toys often. My older daughter actually told me at Christmas when I got a new handbag, “You should donate your pocketbook mommy, if you are no longer using it.” So, I think on this I am truly trying to teach the right lesson here and hope I am on some of the others, as well!! 🙂

    1. Way to go, Janine. I love your daughter! Her comment shows a very healthy and mature relationship with “stuff.” Don’t you love it when you feel like you can say “I’ve got this one!”?

  2. We donate often, but I won’t lie…my workspace is a disaster and I know that is not a good model for the kids. I am going to clean it up this week. And then my goal will be to start working on the office before the end of the month!

    1. Gold star on donations, Michelle! Just your tone of voice about your office matters… even if the results aren’t perfect, they won’t know!

  3. Can you just come over? I want to say, “My friend Miss Seana is coming over! Let’s find cool homes for your (17,000) Disney princesses.”
    I’m guilty of saying that my house is a mess. Probably daily.
    And she is so good about cleaning up when I use more positive talk.

    1. Coming over to Tamara’s sounds like BIG FUN to me!! I love that Scarlet has 17,000 Disney princesses… finding homes for them is a dream day for me:) Speaking positive words is powerful… it just builds energy and enthusiasm, right?

    1. Especially with children, fun makes all the difference Crystal! Amazing to think that our attitude communicates what is a positive and what is a negative to little minds. Lucky family members in your house:)

  4. These are such great tools and they would still work with my two who are a little older. We definitely do a lot of donating and not just clothes, shoes and toys. Outgrown bedding, lamps, furniture….if if still works or is useful, it gets donated!

    1. Donating is such a wonderful example of “win/win”, right Sandy? And I totally agree, modeling good behavior moves into adulthood… how often do older teens and young adults call home for advice? I think children watch their parents and other adults in their lives forever — I still watch those who are ahead of me and try to glean wisdom:)

  5. Very important issue Seana, the younger we start the process of organizing with out children the better. We want them to be productive, being organized helps with this. Great article. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jill. It’s been interesting for me to watch the youngest children of some of my clients want to join us as we organize. It isn’t always efficient to have small children around, but I enjoy seeing them want to be a part of the process – kids love to be a part of whatever their parents are doing… which opens the door for teaching good habits.

    1. So true, Jessica. The way we speak and behave influences all the people around us! If coworkers see us embracing a lifestyle of order and planning, they will probably think more about it themselves. I so appreciate your comment!

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post so much! Everything you said is so true. My older daughter would honestly give someone the shirt off her back, but my younger one struggles with parting with her things…I am going to start using these tips to help her! :)-Ashley

    1. Thanks so much, Ashley! It is definitely easier to let go things if everyone around you is doing it, if you feel like you are really helping someone else, and if the atmosphere is “fun”. I so appreciate your enthusiastic support:)

  7. This is wonderful advice, Seana. I’ve really been struggling to keep a positive attitude with my son lately (oh when will the tantrums end?), but making stuff into a game and turning on music to make it fun really lightens the mood for all of us. Thanks!

    1. Sorry about the tantrums.. not sure they even “end”, maybe more like “morph” into silence, etc. Anyway, if he thinks YOU enjoy the process, he might tuck that away for future reference, so even if it seems like you are getting nowhere, stay strong!

  8. These are super great ideas. I would want to do the same with my son and when he’s old enough to understand. I think he will because when I ask him to throw his candy wrappers, he gladly throws them away and it’s beginning to be a good habit. 🙂 You’re right that whatever we do, our kids can see it and they follow. It’s monkey see monkey do!

    1. That’s the way it is, Rea. The power parents have in influencing their children’s thoughts — amazing, and humbling, all at the same time!

  9. These are amazing! I’m not a mom yet but having sisters that are sixteen years younger than me often makes me feel like one. I think these are totally applicable to me too!

    1. And I think the principles apply to anyone who is around us, really: co-workers, nieces, volunteers, etc. To be honest, the way we talk and think impacts US the most! Thanks for the comment, Susannah:)

  10. Hello! I love this post!!!! I also love your approach to raising children! Such a positive approach. Makes me happy to see your website. I will be following! Thank you so much for stopping by my website! Much appreciated! Hope to see you there again!

    1. Thanks for coming by, Amy. Loved your site as well:) I figure we should be as positive as we can, whenever we can. Who wants to emulate depressing behavior, right?

  11. These are terrific, Seana! I love how you effortlessly weave together the practical side of organizing with the attitude and behavior. What a powerful combination!

    We used to call cleaning “polishing”. We explained to our girls the reason we would clean and pickup the house: having a clean house in which we relax, play, cook, etc, was such a delight. I’d try to make it “fun” as well by playing the CD “Cleaning with the Classics”, a real heart pumping 45 minutes of invigorating music. 🙂

    1. Oh “polishing”… I LOVE that, Kim! And I so agree… children love to create and play in an space that is clear — it just screams “possibility”… just like a row of blocks. I wasn’t always successful getting my children to love restoring order, but they certainly knew I loved it, and as they’ve gotten older I can see their thoughts about tidiness evolving. Thanks for your kind comment!

  12. okay, I am sitting here crying right now…these are such great ideas and ways to be a role model…so love this….sniffles. printing it out and pinning it.

    1. Aw, thanks Karen! It is sort of an emotional post when you realize how much influence a parent has on his/her child!

  13. Such great reminders and suggestions… I really think the ‘restore order regularly’ works best for me. If I don’t set a regular time to get things all tidy it just doesn’t happen!
    I often have that parent struggle with certain things that are just faster for me to do vs. teaching my kids the responsibility of our family home. I’m recently motivated to do a better job of teaching them these skills. BUUUUT, it sometimes feels overwhelming.
    Setting a time for all of us to work together is good for us.
    Thanks again!

    1. I totally relate to the challenge of letting kids do something vs.doing it more quickly myself. All of these things need to be adjusted to fit each family. If you can get the whole family to work together, you are far ahead:) Thanks for the comment!

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