A Great Summer Activity For Your Kids AND Your Home

The following post is from Laura of I’m an Organizing Junkie:

pirates
credit: Rickcracker

My kids finished school last Tuesday and with that comes the long days of summer ahead.

I’ve seen many summer activity lists and suggestions floating around the internet over the last month.  What I haven’t seen on any of those lists however is an activity that is not only fun and exciting but will also teach your children valuable life skills while transforming your cluttered home into a lighter more organized one at the same time.

Now I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that the activity I’m talking about is organizing but before you start throwing tomatoes at me, hear me out.  I’m a huge advocate of teaching the skill of organizing (and decision making) at a young age and there is no better way to do that than by having them come along side of you to learn.

Contrary to popular belief though this process doesn’t have to be painful and can in fact be quite fun for all involved.  It’s all in the attitude presented to them and not making it seem like work.

Let me introduce you to the idea of a daily “scavenger hunt” otherwise known as an organizing blitz to get your house under control.

treasure map
credit: Robbi Baba

How to plan your scavenger hunt:

Set a limited time each morning whether it be 10 minutes to a half hour to introduce a daily search list.  Say excitedly to your kids that they have the next 10 minutes to collect 5 toys (or whichever number you choose) from around the house to pick up and put away.   Set a timer, put on some fun upbeat music and let them run around “racing” to see who can make it back to the finish line first once they are done.

Get yourself a big poster board, draw a big treasure map on it and tell them that each day that they complete their challenge they get to advance to another area on the map with of course the final goal sometime further down the road marked with a big red X.

Just like kids like to anticipate a big day on a calendar, having a large “map” of some sort will help them visualize where they need to go and how they’re going to get there. Each day create a different challenge for them, some harder, some easier to keep it engaging and exciting for them to help them get to the finish line.   Provide incentives along the way and of course a big “treasure” at the end.  It could be as simple as an ice cream treat or as big as a family outing to a theme park or zoo.  You decide and watch your kid’s eyes go wide with excitement to get started.

Some challenge ideas might include:

  • find 5 toys you no longer play with that we can donate to someone in need
  • find 5 things in the living room that don’t belong there and return them to the right room
  • find 5 pieces of clothing that no longer fit (with moms help of course), etc.

Challenge older kids to come up with their own solutions to:

  • keep their sports gear organized
  • keep stuff off their floors
  • to organize their books or to keep only the books that fit on a particular shelf
  • to organize their keepsakes, etc.

Kids love to have a say in what’s important to keep and what’s okay to part with. Their decisions may surprise (and scare) you, but it’s important to respect what they decide without causing them to be unsure or second guess themselves (although there may be special instances where they need gentle guidance).

Before questioning their decision to get rid of something though, like a keepsake nicknack from their Aunt Susie for instance, ask yourself who is more attached to the memory of it…you or your child?

Make it a game, keep it fun and remember that by empowering your children in small areas to practice and hone these valuable decision making skills, without fear of constant reprimand, you will create organizers for life.

Do you think this is something worth giving a try this summer?

Laura is a wife and mother to three great kids, lives in Alberta, Canada and is an addict of all things organizing. You can find her blogging regularly at I’m an Organizing Junkie, and her organizing book, Clutter Rehab: 101 Organizing Tips & Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!, is available in stores now.
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