How to get your kids to help organize: 5 easy ideas to get started

kids organizing

Are you feeling like the weight is all on you to maintain the household, while also managing everyone being home full-time? In the midst of elearning and navigating emotional losses of graduations, proms, and class picnics, it can easily feel like it’s not worth even trying to keep on the radar.

But guess what? You don’t have to be the sole house warrior now (or ever!) because there is actually a lot that the kids *and husband* can help organize around the house! So before you go and give yourself your very own mental breakdown, which you are entitled to if you need it, let’s talk about some easy ways to get your kids to help organize.

Below I’m sharing 5 easy ideas to get you started.


  1. Toys– I have worked with clients’ kids and even my nephew on going through toys and giving them the authority to decide which ones they want to trash, give to someone else, or keep. I’ve found that most are actually really receptive to it and LIKE the feeling of giving!
    • How to start the conversation: instead of making it feel like a punishment that they have too many toys or don’t use/appreciate all that they have, really keep it positive. Consider “You know, Bobby, you have so many wonderful toys from people that care about you but I think it’s getting a little crowded in here. Can we go through some of the toys you don’t really play with anymore and get them ready to give to another kid who maybe doesn’t have any toys?” “Some of these toys are from when you were a baby/younger and I think you’ve outgrown them. What do you think, can we put some aside for your younger sibling/cousin/etc?”
    • Resources: Oftentimes, younger siblings or family members can be the perfect place to “donate” toys to. If this isn’t an option, consider posting on your neighborhood/local area websales page. You can offer them for free to set a price. Either way, they can get to another family that has the need/want and you may get a little cash back in your pocket.
  2. Books– Books are the same. They are a common gift item for birthdays or holidays and most kids end up with a ton.
    • How to start the conversation: You could encourage them to pull out any books that are too young for them now or ones that maybe they didn’t end up liking as much and set them aside for someone else. If asking them to accomplish an entire bookcase feels overwhelming, you can task it shelf by shelf or ask them to choose “X” number of books that they know they don’t read any more.
    • Resources: Oftentimes, younger siblings or family members can be the perfect place to “donate” books to. If neither of those are options, you might consider asking your local library or even your child’s school library for any book donation programs.
  3. Craft supplies– Things like markers, glue sticks, and chalk all get worn down. Quite often we don’t even realize how many have dried out, been used to the point of not being able to really function properly, or just simply break. Consider giving your child an easy task of going through one basket or pencil box of supplies and checking that all have caps, etc. You can provide an empty box where they can toss all broken/dried/not working items into it for you to discard.
    You can also give them a blank piece of paper to use for testing markers. This could lead to some drawing/coloring time too!

    • How to start the conversation: *Go to the area where these items are kept* Then ask your child “Do you ever feel like it’s hard to find the marker or pencil you’re looking for? Do you feel frustrated when you can’t find what you want?” “Let’s take a few minutes today to clear out some of the supplies that you don’t use anymore. Is anything broken or dried up that we can get rid of to make space for your favorite supplies?”
    • Resources: Consider programs like Crayola for crayon/marker recycling or making your own art with those worn down items.
  4. School artwork– The amount of artwork that comes home with a child, especially within the first few years of schooling, can be substantial. Managing that and any other school papers that come home, can be overwhelming. I often help clients set up a bin to sort, organize, and contain artwork and other items to keep them at a minimum. When working with clients, I always encourage them to go back through the previous years papers first, because knowing how much they’ve grown since those “blob” drawings, may make it easier to let some of those go without feeling as much guilt.
    • How to start the conversation: When asking for their help, I would consider setting a limit. Consider “Bobby, can you look through this pile of your old artworks and pick your 10 favorites? They are all really special, but let’s pick our favorites and save space for all of the awesome art you’ll do this year!” Check in with them to see which pieces were their favorite and why! You could even write a little blurb on the back with the date, to look back on in the future.
    • Resources: A look at a file bin we created for a client
  5. Snacks– For school-aged children, setting up a snack station that is accessible to them, can make a huge impact. You can take it one step further by having them get involved with setting it up!
    Find a basket or bin that is a good size for your pantry/cabinet space. (And not too big, so they can manage pulling it in and out to access snacks). I always recommend taking items out of the bulky boxing, this helps with easier access and can fit more into the basket.

    • How to start the conversation: Work together to decide which snacks you are okay with them having at any time/ and that they like. (Consider things like if they can open it on their own, how messy can it be, etc) Have them organize it into the basket.
      *If you want a mix of things, put a few of each into the basket and store the rest in a gallon ziploc bag or something so it’s easier to refill the basket as needed.
    • Resources: Snack shelf for kids

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  1. Sara Skillen

    Great ways to start conversations with the kids – helping them to have a part in the process is so helpful, and teaches them decision-making skills too! Great post.

  2. Seana Turner

    I love your “conversation starters.” Getting kids invested in the process definitely helps to get them to keep with the system over the long run!

  3. Linda Samuels

    These are wonderful conversation starters you shared. Our daughters are grown now, but another thing that we found useful was working side-by-side with them as they were organizing or editing. So instead of a “Can you do this” scenario, it was more of a “Let’s do this together.” Once they had the habits instilled, it was easier to let them loose to work on their own. But especially with younger kids, working with them helped.

  4. Julie Bestry

    Great conversation starters. Given kids a say in how their spaces look and are handled is empowering and helps them recognize the role they play in being responsible for their possessions.

  5. Janet Barclay

    Ah, books. They’ve always felt like something that should be kept, and I still have quite a few from my early childhood. I’ve recently realized that I’ve never read any of them to my grandchildren and wonder how likely it is that I will. In which case, why do I even have them? Great food for thought – thank you!

  6. Olive Wagar

    Great ideas! Having a memory box or notebook for the favorite pieces of art sets a reasonable limit & lets the child make the decision. And don’t forget to send a few to Grammy! I homeschooled 3 children for 13 years & accumulated quite a few books. But I have been able to go back & eliminate many & only keep the true favorites.

  7. Matt Celentano

    It’s a great idea to give the kids the power of choice, and experience the joy in giving to others. Giving a child small tasks to complete is very important in building self-discipline.


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