I thought I would have two or three kids and wasn’t prepared for the organizing challenge six kids would be. I’ve learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. If you have three kids, some of these tips may not be necessary; if you have twelve kids, feel free to offer your tips in the comments. You certainly have a lot more wisdom to share than I do!
These are the tips that have saved my sanity for the last 16 years that I’ve had three or more children.
#1 Organize by Day
I wish I could say the issue of arguing over the best seat in the car or the house is over now that my kids are older, but that’s not the case. The bickering started early and I needed a strategy for resolving these squabbles.
My solution was to assign each child a day. Once I had six, it worked out rather well. Monday was the oldest’s day, Tuesday the second oldest’s, and so on. Sunday is Dad’s day. We use each child’s day to give privileges like choice of seat and what restaurant to go to if we are going out to eat, but also responsibilities like leading prayers and being mom’s helper.
Bonus Tip: Assign seats at your kitchen table for life. Do you have to ask why?
#2 Organize by Color
I wanted to be able to identify whose belongings were whose (because there are oh-so-many belongings!), so I assigned colors to the kids at an early age. You can use color for towels, toothbrushes, cups, notebooks, folders, pencils, and more. When someone’s item is missing, it makes finding it easier than if everyone had the same color. It also makes shopping decisions easier.
Bonus Tip: Does your child keep losing things? Make him pay a finder’s fee to a sibling who finds the missing item.
#3 Use a Label Maker
Some things can’t be purchased in multiple colors. That’s when a label is a life saver. I often have two kids using the same level of curriculum. We immediately label the books. I keep a label maker in the kids’ bathroom so they can label their toiletries. Everyone has their own hygiene tools and products and complaints of missing items are minimized.
Bonus Tip: Consider getting items personalized when you order them.
#4 Teach your Children to Do Chores
If I had had just one child, I would have been tempted to do too much for them. With six children living in a bigger house, I couldn’t manage without their help. There are many ways to approach chores with a big family. Managers of Their Chores is one option. Many systems are more trouble than they’re worth for big families, however. I know; I’ve tried so many of them! I’ve created a super easy checklist that you can modify for your family. It has worked well for us for many years.
Bonus Tip: Instead of using a chore list for daily chores, just work together on each room or floor of your house. Use a timer and play some fun music to motivate kids.
#5 Use Checklists
Packing for myself and six children when we travel would have been a nightmare if not for the checklists I created and saved on my computer. Each child has a list of things to take that I edit each year. I print them off and the kids love packing for themselves. Do I have to check my younger kids’ clothing choices? Absolutely! But it takes so much less time to check than to pack for them.
I’ve also created checklists for allowing my kids to be independent with their homeschool assignments. But there are many ways to use checklists to organize a big family: packing lists for sports or music practice, morning and evening routine checklists, exercise checklists, and tasks to be completed before screen time checklists, for example.
Bonus Tip: Laminate or put checklists to be reused into page protectors. Make dry erase markers available to be used with them.
#6 Declutter Together
I don’t have any mind-blowing tips for organizing toys and clothes with a big family besides constantly getting rid of things. For years, I struggled to determine how to choose what to give away. So many toys belonged to all of the kids. Just because my 10-year-old didn’t like something didn’t mean my 5-year-old didn’t want it. I finally put blankets out on my playroom floor for giveaway items and throw-away items. I had the kids go through their toys and put them on the respective blankets. Doing this together allowed younger kids to rescue treasures, but still encouraged them to give things away. It’s worked brilliantly and the kids actually enjoy doing this.
To declutter clothes, I start with my oldest child. As he pulls out things he doesn’t want, I offer it to the next smallest child (my second son is actually the tallest now). If the next child doesn’t want it and it’s in good condition, I donate it. We keep working our way through the kids in this way until we have gotten through all of their clothes. My daughter only has to sort through clothes a friend has handed down to her.
Bonus Tip: Keep bins or hampers for unwanted items easily accessible in your home to make this process faster.
Do you need more help getting and staying organized with your big family? Order your copy of The Organized Homeschool Life.
Join us for the “How to Organize your Life in 30 Days” Challenge!
Do you feel like you are drowning in to do lists, laundry, and dishes? Does lack of organization cause you to lose your patience or avoid having people over? Are you often late because you can’t find what you are looking for? As moms, we all have a lot on our minds and life is busy. In some seasons our mind becomes so full that we become less productive. I am teaming up with some amazing bloggers to bring you 30 days to an organized life! All you need to do to join the challenge is check out the landing page HERE and start working through the challenges. You can join in at any point, there are no rules! Share your before or after pictures on Instagram and use the hashtag #30dayorganize for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Hobby Lobby (3 winners)! The more your engage on social media, share the graphic below, etc. the more entries you’ll have! The winners will be announced on Instagram so stay tuned!