Raising Responsible Kids: Tips for Helping Your Kids Manage Homework and Housework

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The holiday season also marks an approach to the half-way point of the logodokidsschool year.   Use this winter break as an opportunity to look at what habits your kids have formed – good and bad!  Need to tweak a few things?  Please refer to this post I contributed to the Organizing Tutor at the beginning of the school year for some helpful advice.  Happy Holidays!

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Parents!  Raise your hand if you have been feeling guilty about barking, “Clean your room!” at your children now that the school year is in full swing.       continue reading

 

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The Three Best Ways to Equip Your Kid for College – That Will Not Cost You A Thing

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resilienceYes, I am a Professional Organizer. No, this is not a list of what to purchase to organize a dorm room! The best ways to prepare your kid for college are not about “just right” closet containers.

Equipping your kid for college USED to be all about purchasing supplies. It was a rite of passage requiring special trips and careful planning. These days, everything your college student needs is probably already in your house! Or a quick Target run away – even after 8pm on a Sunday night.

For those things, load up your student’s debit card and tell them to have at it! They know their way around the store. They have been shopping with you for years.

No, the best way to prepare your student for college is by CHANGING YOUR OWN HABITS. And it starts with the phone…

1. Cut the “Text Me” Umbilical Cord

What are your Cell Phone habits with your student? At your home, would I hear the following phrases?

a. “Text Me when you get there.”

b. “Text Me when you need a ride.”

c. “Text Me if you forgot anything.”

Breaking the “Text Me” habit starts now, before your student is away at school. My own kids know I trust them to leave me. And they know I am not waiting around to hear from them. If plans change and they need a ride at a different time, or the pick-up location has changed, all I ask is they let me know about fifteen minutes before our agreed upon time. (Any sooner than that and the plans may change again.)

Try instead:

a. “Drive safely!“

b.  “About what time should I be available to pick you up?”

c. “Have a great day!”

When you hear yourself about to say, “Text Me,” consider how you can empower your student to manage the situation a different way. If you don’t, you and your cell phone will still be your student’s first line of defense for solving problems away at school. Getting used to you not being connected to EVERYTHING gives your student the confidence to plan and prepare – important organizing skills for navigating a college campus!

2.  Slow Your Response Time

We live in unprecedented times. Our kids have come of age as the “Immediate Gratification Generation.” Rapid access to money, fun foods, ceaseless on-line entertainment, healthcare, and photos of their friends is expected.

So…what happens when something unexpected happens? Kids expect it to be taken care of. Right. Away.

The Immediate Gratification Generationers actually need their parents to teach them to get comfortable with “discomfort.” And it takes effort. For both sides.

Here are three examples of ways break the NOW cycle:

a.  I need money! Instead of adding money to a bank account with a click, what if you worked out a budget? Help your student fill out a spreadsheet using previous debit card data and teach them to track their expenses. Agree upon an amount you will provide and stick to it. Even if it means passing up that t-shirt, shoe sale, or app download.

b. There is nothing to eat! If your kids are in the habit of ignoring the half-empty bags, change how you store them. Cut off the excess bag and clip it. Shake partially filled boxes into a Tupperware container. Don’t offer to run to the store just because there is “nothing to eat.” There is, they just might have to work at it.

c. I have a headache. Headache? Sniffles? Let it ride. Whatever happened to the common cold? We call it a sinus infection. Teach your student that a few aches and pains are okay and do not require a trip to urgent care. Grab a Kleenex and take a nap. Mild symptoms may persist for a few days, but they are supposed to.

Slowing your response time will give your student time to work through and solve problems for themselves. Yes, you know what they need. No, you do not always have to do something about it. In the long run, self-control and patience are more important life skills than dashing about for a quick fix. Be supportive (of course!), but do not plan to be their virtual personal assistant while they are at school.

3. Let Them Struggle

Uh, oh. Your kid did not text you for help, ran into a problem, and made it worse. Good news! It is okay for your kid to struggle.

The word, “resilience,” is making the rounds, because the IGGers have demonstrated they do not feel they can handle problems on their own. The real challenge is, can YOU handle not stepping in? No one wants to see his/her child uncomfortable, but it is important to separate from their problems, or your kid will always expect you to step in with immediate solutions.

You are inadvertently teaching your student he/she cannot manage without you.

Unless your kid’s safety is at stake, ask yourself, “Will my involvement encourage his/her dependence on me?”

When you take that first step backwards, you may notice your student procrastinate the task at hand. And that will be difficult to manage. But, remember, it is his/her way of forcing you to step in.

Kids are good at the game. Allow them to play a wrong card every now and again and you will be teaching them to play LIFE. Help them enjoy the ride!

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It’s Best to Keep Busy, but – “Crazy Busy?”

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In recent weeks, I have been considering the notion of, “busy.”  How is it that in a world of convenience, people always seem to be so busy? Even, “Crazy Busy!?!”  What are we whizzing to achieve?

Please check out my post, “It’s Best to Keep Busy, but- Crazy Busycrazy busy?” over on Support for Special Needs!  Thank you for clicking through!

There is Not Always Heat on the Bus

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Life lessons…Modern conveniences are not a substitute for being prepared – especially during aImage hard winter.  I am posting over on Support for Special Needs!  Check it out.  (And bring your boots.)

“There is Not Always Heat on the Bus”

A Special Kind of Closet

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A Special Kind of Closet

I have shared a post over on the special on-line support community, Support for Special Needs.  Please click here to be directed to their site and read how this “Special Kind Closet” came to be. Thank you!

Need a Hand? Enlist a Helper – and a little Bon Jovi!

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Who’s in?

Are you having a difficult time getting control of your living space?  Is there someone you can call to come and help?  Whether you contact a family member, motivated friend, or hire a professional, one way to get control of your space is to ask for assistance!

Living with piles and disorganization can cause stress to mount.  Clients describe feeling miserable just looking at the mess, yet feel unable to attack it.  If going it alone isn’t proving to be successful, it can be helpful to bring in a helping hand to get you started.  Once the momentum gets going, it is easier to reach your long-term goal.

3 Helpful Tips for Working Together

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Start with a molehill

1.  Start Small – Your well-meaning sister-in-law or friend may have the motivation to tackle an entire room, but it is important to be realistic.  Once you begin sorting and making decisions, new piles and new decisions will arise.  During these work sessions, plan to move a molehill – not the entire mountain!

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2.  Room for Indecision – Making decisions can be exhausting!  Unfortunately, having a helper can cause friction because he/she may not understand why you cannot decide on a particular item.  Designating a place for items you are not sure about gives you time you need to think about where they belong.  This place is not necessarily a “Keep” Korner, it is an “I Don’t Know (IDK) yet” spot.  Declare a corner, big box, or part of a closet for IDK and place items there for the time being.  Drop them in and keep the momentum going!

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Motivation

3.  Bon Jovi – I recently helped a woman clear through daunting piles of clothing.  She cranked-up 80’s music while we worked.  I did not mention it, but I know it kept our energy up!

What can you do to make the work environment more fun?

Some clients love to talk.  If it doesn’t slow you down, talking is a great way to forget about some of the mundane sorting and get the job done!  If you need a clear head for decisions and music and talking aren’t appropriate, think of other ways to lighten-up the mood:  Set a timer and take a snack breaks, use colorful post-its and markers to label the piles, or plan to have your helper take the donations at the end of the session so they aren’t lurking in the corner for weeks!

…Or just pretend Jon is watching 🙂

My Mary Popppins Bag

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Mary Poppins arranged her digs by opening her carpet bag and pulling out unexpectedly large items – likeImage a lamp, a plant, and a large mirror!  I feel a little bit like Mary when organizing a space!  In the name of effortless efficiency, I take cues from what my clients need, find patterns, and take inspiration from the environment.

My Mary Poppins Bag (otherwise known as my mobile office) is a 20″ Rollaway Tool Bag with 15″ Carry Bag that slips inside. The photo shows it with tools. I do carry a few tools, but also a myriad of organizing supplies, paperwork, hand lotion, camera, snacks – you name it!  The BIG bag doesn’t always need to roll on-site.  I prepare the supplies so I can just pop the little one out 🙂

So…what is inside my bag?  Well, each organizing job is a little bit different, but I have found it helps to have certain staples on hand.  Yes, the client may have these supplies, but the environment can be chaotic, especially if we have started emptying out closets and the like.  I prefer to keep the little bag in the room with me, so I can pull what I need without breaking the flow.

Keeping in mind that each job is anywhere from 2-6 hours, here is what is in my Mary Poppins Bag/s as I head out the door today:

TOOLS – Inside pouches on one side:   3 Screwdrivers (mini, phillips, and flat head) , tape measure, 4 furniture movers/sliders, scissors, and box cutter.

WRITING – Inside pouches on one side:  Pencils, pens (Pilot Precise V7 fine point, black – because I am left-handed and picky like that), black sharpies (regular and SUPER), red sharpie, and a yellow highlighter.

LABELING – Tape (large packing and lil scotch tape), white index cards, colored post-its, and Brother P-Touch Labelmaker (for when things get serious!).

BARRIERS – Gloves (cloth and latex) and face mask (being professional means being prepared for anything).

PERSONAL – Snack bar or almonds, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, house shoes, and cell phone.

PAPERWORK – Portable project case with files, inspiration pages, calculator, and invoices.

OTHER – Large plastic bags, camera, packing tape dispenser, lunch bag (as needed).

There you have it.  Rolling out the door and ready for anything.  Thanks for asking!

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