Everyone in the family seems to come with stuff. Kids have folders and homework and permission slips. Husbands have keys and phones and a bunch of receipts and notes in pockets. And don’t get me started on all the stuff that comes with a baby. If you have more than two of these people in your family, then you are probably looking for a way to control and organize all that stuff. Enter the color-coding system.
If you haven’t done so already, go back and read the post on the Family Calendar http://wp.me/p27sz7-N This is where we first introduced the idea of assigning each person in the family a color (and I promised we would use that later!). If you don’t have a family calendar, start this process by assigning each member of the family, including all kids and both parents, a color. Pick something that each person likes, will easily recognize as their color (say a favorite color), something that is unique to that person (no lavender for one kid, and purple for another), and something that everyone can live with for a while.
Purchase each person a solid plastic folder with 2 pockets in their color. This will be where important papers are kept. A receipt that Dad needs to give Mom, put it in Mom’s folder. The permission slip for Junior’s field trip goes into his folder. The note from Sally’s teacher telling you about the science project goes into her folder. The bill that Dad needs to look into goes into his folder. Keep these folders in a centrally located area, preferably on the way out of the house. Establish the habit of having everyone check the folder before they leave for the day. Make one pocket ongoing items and one pocket the things that need to go with them that day.
Purchase or paint a bin or box for each person in their color. This is where larger items that they need to deal with can be put. Toys to put away, the gift for the birthday party etc. go in their bin. You can also keep backpacks etc. in the bins.
Purchase items like backpacks, pencil boxes or pouches, lunch boxes and food containers, gloves, scarves, hats, and planners in that person’s unique color. You can even take this as far as sheets, comforters, towels, jackets, shoes, and toys. This eliminates the “whose is this” fight. It clearly belongs to the person who is assigned that color.
Laundry can even be color coded. Give each child their own colored hamper and basket. Their dirty clothes go in their hamper, their clean clothes are in their basket. This can also help as children get older (8-9) and start doing laundry. They can be responsible for their own laundry by doing what is in their colored hamper.
The major benefits to color coding is that you can easily see to whom something belongs and which person has neglected a chore. You can also easily get a visual read on someone’s schedule simply by glancing at the colors on the Family Calendar. Additionally, children who cannot yet read can easily recognize their color and be taught to put away the items in their bin.
How do you use color to organize? Post your ideas in the comments!