The Clutter Diet
Organizing is part of every nanny’s job. To organize the home successfully always keep the family you work for, and the children you care for, in mind.
1. Communicate first about organizing anything for your employer.
Some people are very particular about how they want things done, and even if you think an area is messy, they may know exactly where things are and like it that way. After you’ve discussed this issue and understood how they like things, you can feel free to pursue these kinds of projects independently.
2. If your role gets you involved in organizing any paperwork for the family, be very careful about throwing anything away.
There can be legal and financial reasons to keep certain papers, even if they are very old or don’t look important. If you are not sure, create a box or pile of “probable trash” to have them review it before throwing it out. You also need to shred anything you are throwing away that could be damaging to your employer’s identity, finances, or reputation.
3. Organize from a “kids’ eye view.”
What are their favorite toys? You want to put those at a level that is easy for them to reach so they won’t have to climb for them or get frustrated.
4. Consider safety always, especially if you have multiple charges of varying ages.
You will want to organize spaces considering the choking and poison hazards of the younger children, yet make it easy for older children to reach things they need as well.
5. If you help the family with their laundry, ask your employer if you can use the “dot system” to help you identify clothing.
It’s often difficult to sort and put away laundry for siblings of the same gender. Use a permanent laundry marker to make a single dot on the tags of the oldest child’s clothing, then the next oldest child gets two dots on their tags. The younger child from there gets three dots, and so on. When clothes get handed down, you just add another dot to know which clothes belong to whom.
6. Discuss with your employer a system of managing hand-me-downs and out-of-season clothing.
Kids grow fast, and you need to know where to put the clothes that are outgrown or out of season when you identify them. Does your employer want to save them for other children? Give them away for donation? Or possibly give them to a friend? We recommend storing hand-me-downs in clear containers by gender and a range of sizes (like 0-6 months, or sizes 4-6).
7. Consider clear containers versus baskets or opaque containers.
Sometimes storing things inside clear containers is perfect so you can see items inside the boxes before opening them. Other times, it’s advantageous to hide the items you are storing. If you’re not sure, ask your employer his or her opinion, since some people like everything to match and to camouflage their storage. Other people are “out of sight, out of mind!”
8. Use a label maker to establish homes for items you have organized.
Particularly when many people are sharing a space, this makes the organizing work official and keeps the space organized longer.
9. Label with pictures and words together to help with reading skills.
You can label toys containers with both a picture of the toy and a written label, so this associates the words with the toys and helps with learning to read. If your employer’s household is bilingual or just trying to learn another language, you can also label items in both languages to help everyone learn more.
10. Many children are overwhelmed by too many choices.
More messes get made because kids dump out everything to find what they want. Many of your charges may be blessed with an abundance of toys and belongings, but this blessing may actually be a curse and may cause confusion. Ask your employer if it’s okay to start rotating some toys in and out on a regular basis and store ½ to 2/3 of them away to simplify choices and cleanup.
EXTRA BONUS TIP: Ask your employer to buy you an annual subscription to the Clutter Diet® so you can help manage the household with easy weekly project plans. The organizing plans are designed to cover the entire home over time and keep you current on what you should focus on seasonally for holidays, schools, and vacations. This is one more thing you can do to make their lives easier, and it gives you and the family access to a team of Professional Organizers to directly answer your questions that may arise.