Or­ga­niz­ing chil­dren’s items worth the ef­fort

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Leanne Brownoff

QUES­TION: Do you have any or­ga­ni­za­tion so­lu­tions for ele­men­tary schoolage chil­dren? As the kids are get­ting older I am chal­lenged with keep­ing things or­ga­nized — par­tic­u­larly when school is out and sum­mer hits.

AN­SWER: When chil­dren are lit­tle, we have greater con­trol over their en­vi­ron­ment. But as they gain in­de­pen­dence, they have a grow­ing im­pact on our en­vi­ron­ment.

Not to worry, this is a learn­ing stage for ev­ery­one. Dur­ing the school year there is a struc­ture in place, but when school’s out the rules change. Take this time to re­group. Child­hood is a great time to de­velop or­ga­ni­za­tion tech­niques that will last a life­time, and it is never too late to get started.

An or­ga­nized en­vi­ron­ment seems to breed ef­fi­ciency and cre­ativ­ity. The best ap­proach with young chil­dren and teens is to set ex­pec­ta­tions, pro­vide the tools, and roll up your own sleeves. This shows lead­er­ship and team work, not the nag­ging qual­ity we as par­ents are of­ten ac­cused of ex­hibit­ing.

The chal­lenge you face is the sheer quan­tity of stuff that comes home all at once. This is one of those an­nual tasks that must be done. My ad­vice is to have some fun with it and don’t pro­cras­ti­nate. To be­gin with, make sure you have the tools you and your chil­dren need to get or­ga­nized.

This is a good time to re­or­ga­nize clos­ets, book­cases and desks. Re­cy­cle items that you no longer need and start a give­away bag. An­tic­i­pate that your chil­dren will be bring­ing home items they want to dis­play. Have empty pic­ture frames (Ikea has a great se­lec­tion) and cork boards ready to dis­play art projects and other items of pride. Dis­play­ing a child’s favourite re­port or story that they cre­ated, can be a ma­jor con­fi­dence booster.

Clear plas­tic Tup­per­ware con­tain­ers are ex­cel­lent to hold school sup­plies that can be reused when school re­sumes. If your chil­dren en­joy craft projects have them cre­ate their own per­sonal me­mory box to hold items they ac­cu­mu­lated through­out the year but aren’t ready to dis­pose of yet.

Large pow­dered de­ter­gent boxes work well as they have lids and a han­dle. Let each child dec­o­rate an empty box with a glue stick and pic­tures from old mag­a­zines, comic books, wrap­ping paper or their own draw­ings. These dec­o­rated boxes will then hold the spe­cial mem­o­ries that they can hold on to un­til next sum­mer.

Now you are ready to deal with the stuff as it comes home. Con­fine the or­ga­ni­za­tion task to a spe­cific lo­ca­tion so that your whole house does not need to suf­fer. Take each item out and de­cide whether it will stay, be dis­played, stored, re­cy­cled or given away. Sport­ing items and musty back­packs can be fresh­ened by adding a sport sneaker de­odor­izer or fab­ric soft­ener.

Keep­ing school projects is im­por­tant for young chil­dren and Tup­per­ware con­tain­ers are ex­cel­lent for this. Keep the size small enough for the child to han­dle and po­si­tion them on lower shelves for easy ac­cess. When next sum­mer comes, they will likely be ready to part with the old mem­o­ries to make room for the new.

You will have pro­vided the ex­pec­ta­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tion, the tools re­quired and the tech­nique to keep ev­ery­thing in its place. As they ma­ture these ba­sics will be part of their or­ga­ni­za­tion strate­gies and they will be suc­cess­ful in cre­at­ing ef­fi­cient and cre­ative en­vi­ron­ments. QUES­TION: I am in­ter­ested in in­stalling a foun­tain in my front yard and won­der if this is some­thing that I can do my­self?

AN­SWER: There are many do-ity­our­self foun­tain kits that are avail­able through gar­den and land­scape cen­tres. Some are very sim­ple and oth­ers are more elab­o­rate. Depend­ing on your skill level you may find the ex­pert ad­vice of­fered by these cen­tres may be most ad­van­ta­geous.

Your foun­tain will be an in­te­gral part of the de­sign of your front yard. Other land­scap­ing el­e­ments may need to be con­sid­ered in or­der for this project to look stun­ning such as grass, shrubs, flow­ers and rocks. Just like any de­sign project, you must con­sider the size and scale of each el­e­ment in the project in or­der to achieve bal­ance.

Sim­ply adding a foun­tain fea­ture in the mid­dle of your lawn with­out con­sid­er­ing these fac­tors will look in­com­plete. Re­mem­ber if you plan to dig up any part of your yard you need to lo­cate the power, gas and wa­ter lines.

Other con­sid­er­a­tions for this project are the size and weight of the foun­tain. These units can be made of stone or con­crete, mak­ing them ex­tremely heavy and awk­ward to trans­port and then to ma­noeu­vre once they have ar­rived. If you have taken this all into con­sid­er­a­tion and un­der­stand what is re­quired for a suc­cess­ful assem­bly, then I would say go ahead. If not, en­list the as­sis­tance of the pros and have it done right.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

Un­der-the-bed or­ga­niz­ers in this girl’s

room can help keep things tidy.

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