Let’s face it, when the winter weather shows its ugly face there’s no better friend in the world than the snooze button. Yet as lovely as those extra couple minutes with Mr Sandman are, the extra precious minutes can really cut into all of the other things you need to accomplish before getting the kidlets off to school, daycare, Grandma's house, etc.
The biggest time suckage occurs during that vital activity of getting your kids dressed.
How long does it take to pick out matching pants and shirts? Why is it that you never have enough underwear? Where did those other socks go and is this unquestionable proof of the existence of The Borrowers?
After dealing with this daily frustration for years, my much smarter wife suggested a new approach. Instead of just having the closets store jackets, communion dresses and pretty princess Halloween costumes, we opted to put all that stuff in storage and fill the closets with hanging clothes organizers. This lead to the Sunday Night Organizational Ritual.
The ritual is simple: every Sunday afternoon/early evening, have your kids pick out full outfits for each day of the week and put them into the cubbies. We’ve been doing this for our 3 girls for the past 2 years and have alleviated thousands of hours of frustration. Here are some of the positive outcomes. Some we expected, but some came as a pleasant surprise!
• One and done – As many organizers come with 4 to 6 compartments, you have enough spots to get you through a typical school week. This means that in one go, they have done their work for the week and do not have to put any more time or mental energy into the activity until the next Sunday. They aren’t going to love it at first, but in time they'll see the benefits of the process.
• Puts kids in control – When you have to leave the house in 5 minutes and your son or daughter is literally wearing a sock and a Montreal Canadien’s Winter Classic Jersey (“Go Habs Go!"), it's tempting to micromanage the situation and finish the job. Not only does this turn everything into a mixed bowl of resentment, but it also does nothing to prepare your kids for the day when they'll need take more control over their lives. Having them take the time to pick out their own clothes in a low-stress environment gives them the skills to approach tasks calmly and logically, it also gives them a chance to find their own identity and preferences.
• Cuts laundry in half – The Sunday night ritual ties in well with the weekend battle of laundry. While the girls are not happy to be presented with their individual laundry baskets – the workload is almost cut in half when they have access to their entire wardrobe for planning the upcoming week. Instead of putting clothes away in drawers, they can immediately put them in the cubbies. They still have to put their clothes away, but this gives them the impression of less work to do.
• Lets you foresee potential issues – When your kid’s clothes are tucked away in drawers all the time, you have no idea what they have a lot of or a little of. You don’t see the holes in socks or what favourite articles are starting to fade beyond recognition. Having the frequently-worn clothes in cubbies gives you this perspective. It also helps you see and avoid short term crises, such as having enough socks to get through the week.
• Helps identify clothes that don’t fit the rotation – When picking out outfits a week at a time, you might start to notice a game of Fantasy Fashion being played in your child’s bedroom. Often played is the always reliable stripy purple leggings and “girls rock” sparkle sweater while the previously celebrated Dora the Explorer hoodie is perpetually being benched. As a parent, this will give you a good chance to make some decisions. Maybe it’s a seasonal outfit that should be put in storage or a less than popular article that should be donated.
If implementing this routine, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind:
Firstly, don’t be too specific with the matching of the cubby with the day. If your child is not feeling cubby 2 on a Tuesday and wants to go with the stylings of cubby 5, let them pick cubby 5. They will just need to pick cubby 2 later.
Secondly, timing is everything. I don’t recommend doing this at the 5-minutes-to-bedtime mark unless you want to go to Meltdown City. Schedule it for earlier in the day when your children have the energy to focus and you have the patience to provide guidance (“Accuweather predicts hail stones shaped like ninja stars on Wednesday, so let’s rethink the taffeta dress and fairy wings!”).
If you're trying to take advantage of every precious second during the week, I highly recommend that you give this organization technique a shot. It has certainly made our lives easier.
Heck, I am such a nightmare in the mornings that I plan to try out the technique myself this year.
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