Karate Kid Lesson

My 7-year old is a disaster…when it comes to organizing, that is. She’s sweet, kind to her friends, and shares with her big sister, but she cannot seem to put anything away where it belongs.

As a mom, I completely understand the need for kids to be messy and have a space that is all their own, so we are pretty lax on the cleanliness of bedrooms. However, we do have to be able to shut the doors when needed…and even that comes as a difficult task for her.

As an organizer, I find it hard to balance letting her be messy and finding some semblance of sanity for myself. To find a happy balance, I try to let each child have a messy room while requiring that the public spaces stay presentable. This is still a work in progress.

Step One for Syd was getting her to realize her coat, shoes and backpack don’t belong under the couch, on the couch, or in the middle of the kitchen. (Literally. Items would just fly off and land where they may as she came home from school to find a snack.)

This is where we introduced the Karate Kid method. I had seen her put her things away at school, so I knew she could do it. I felt that maybe the habits hadn’t been ingrained deep enough and her muscles just didn’t know what to do. So I decided to strengthen those muscles.

On a Sunday, I had her put on her coat and backpack and then come in the door and hang up each item on the appropriate hook. Then, I had her put it all back on and do it again…20 times!

Next were the shoes that were in the middle of the living room. She had to go get them and put them in the closet. Then I took them back to the living room for her to put away again…20 times. It was all fun and games for the first five minutes, but she quickly grew annoyed with my training lesson.

The first test came Monday afternoon when she came home. The coat, backpack, and shoes were again all over the house. So, back to our new training process…20 more times. I think she was testing me to see if I would stick with it and actually make her do something so ridiculous AGAIN. Yes, Mom is that crazy.

But on Tuesday afternoon, crazy mom won. The coat, backpack and shoes landed happily in their correct homes. I was amazed that it had worked! There are still other areas that we need to work on with Syd and her disorganization, but from one mom to another, even a small win is a win!

QUESTION: Are there organizational tactics you’ve been using with your children that just aren’t working?

CHALLENGE: Get creative! Think of some “out of the box” ideas to shake up your kids, and try one out. Be consistent and stick it out. You might be pleasantly surprised. Be sure to share your ideas in the comments section!

* Image by Loutocky/Flickr.com

Image by Loutocky/Flickr.com

This post is sponsored by:

donny osmond home


  1. Amy says

    LOVE! love! Love it! How brilliant–I have 2 daughters exactly like this. My younger kids can put their stuff away, but not the big girls! I know what we will be doing after school today, and tomorrow, and the next day(s)….. Thank You!

  2. ajorjco says

    Right on~great muscle memory technique;-) I have a son who is a “physical learner” and I’m definitely trying this one out!

  3. Lacy Anderson says

    My mom totally did this when I was a kid. She called it “practicing”. If I went to a friend’s house after school without leaving a note for her where I was, when I got home that evening, I had to come in the house, write a note, then walk out the front door…20 times. Awesome.

  4. Merry says

    My dad did this with buckling our seatbelts and turning off lights. And it really works! I am an avid seatbelt buckler to this day.

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