Monday, July 20, 2009

Every Parent's Tool Box: The Tidy Up Check List

In five and a half weeks I'll be going back to school after nearly eight-and-a-half years as a stay-at-home parent. To say I'm a bit nervous would be an understatement. Fears of child delinquency and domestic chaos are not unfounded and I'm doing my damnedest to get prepared. Here's my first solution: the tidy up check list.

Materials: two sheets of paper and an envelope, a colour printer, word-processing software, access to a laminator, packing tape, and about two meters of velcro.

I've made a separate laminated tag for virtually every category of item found in my children's rooms. They attach to a support page by two long strips of velcro. The envelope is attached to the support page by packing tape.

Putting the system to work:

PARENT: Let's take a look around your room and see what needs to be done.
CHILD: Soft toys, books, clothes and my bed.
(CHILD takes the necessary tags from the Done! envelope and places them on the board.)
PARENT: Don't forget the dolls in the bathroom.
CHILD: Oh, yeah.
(CHILD takes the Dolls tag from the envelope and places it on the board)
PARENT: What do you want to start with?
CHILD: The soft toys.
PARENT: Sounds good. I'll be back in five minutes to help.
(Five minutes pass. PARENT returns. CHILD is nearly finished. All but one tag is left on the board, the rest having been returned to the Done! envelope by CHILD. )
PARENT: Wow, I can see your carpet. Great job! Can I help with your bed?
CHILD: Sure!

So far it's worked amazingly well. Mouse often overwhelms herself with her capacity for chaos, so a task list makes things less daunting. Emma likes it, too, and has taken great pride in making her bed, a task she was never obliged to complete. Assuming we keep up with it, not only will the house be more organized, but also the girls will be sure to get the recognition they deserve.


  1. Always interested in ideas to control the chaos.

  2. Mouse sounds amazingly like Mighty Mom when she was Mouse's age.

    Love you lots

  3. I wonder if it would help my 40 year old...(don't tell her I wrote that)'ll do great at school except you'll be mega busy...

  4. Hey this is a system I've always wanted to use myself! I guess I'm as organized as your average six year old...
    We're missing you lots and lots. You'll be awesome at school. Can't wait to hear all about it. When you have time. (I guess between 3:30 and 4 am). Your kids would love the Goony Bird books - do you have any?