How To Teach Kids Responsibility Through Organization

A Guest Post by Jo C.


Our living room: at first glance, you’d never guess a little munchkin lives here (and that’s how I like to keep it)!

When you have kids, maintaining a tidy home can feel like an uphill battle. You just have so much stuff to contend with (literally and figuratively)! There’s also the need to balance housework with quality time spent with your kids. But, who’s to say the two are mutually exclusive?

Depending on your child’s age, they can take part in home organization; doing so can even teach them responsibility. Who doesn’t like killing two birds with one stone???

In this post, I’ll share the ways that we’ve begun to teach our three-and-a-half-year-old son responsibility through organization at home.

In the Kitchen


Our little white IKEA kitchen. Click here for tips on how to keep your kitchen counters completely clutter-free!

As parents, we’re often preoccupied with keeping harmful things out of our kids’ reach. How about taking advantage of areas that are within their reach?

If you store your children’s dinnerware in a place they can easily access, they can then help themselves to things they would otherwise need your help for.

For instance, we keep my son’s kitchen-related items in this low drawer.


If you’re wondering why it’s so empty, it’s because I hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher yet!

This drawer contains my son’s cups, plates, and cutlery, as well as a motley assortment of grown up mugs and glasses that didn’t make the cut to be displayed on our floating shelves.

We also keep our placemats and napkins in a low drawer, so that my son can help set the table. Setting the placemats and his own dinnerware is his job. As he gets older (and more reliable, re: hand hygiene), he’ll be assigned the task of setting our plates, cups, and cutlery as well.


Is it just me, or does that thought of grubby little toddler hands on your cutlery make you lose your appetite just a little???

In the Bedroom


To avoid clutter throughout our home, the majority of my son’s toys are stored in bins in the basement. We rotate the bins allowed upstairs periodically to prevent too many toys from being out at any given time. This also prevents boredom with any one set of toys. When he’s done playing with one bin, it’s his responsibility to return all of the toys to the bin. This must be done before he’s given another bin to play with.


For more on this, see my post on how we organize our kid’s toys.

In his bedroom, my son has two drawers’ worth of toys: one for stuffies, and one filled with assorted action figures and vehicles. He’s able to reach these low drawers and tidy up these toys on his own. The rest of this storage unit is for books.

img_8504   img_8505

He also has a large drawer of books at his bedside from which he can access and tidy his own bedtime storybooks.



I am a fan of junk drawers and using baskets for storage, and my son’s room is no exception. We have a ‘junk basket,’ into which goes anything that does not belong in his room (i.e. toys that are meant to go back into basement bin storage).




At three-and-a-half, my son is just starting to dress himself. His underwear and sock drawers are within his reach and he is capable of putting those on himself. I’ll admit, watching him do so without stepping in can be a slow and agonizing process for the both of us! There’s no better exercise in patience and self-control than standing back as you watch your kid struggle, at a snail’s pace, to wriggle off his shirt. It’s like having an itch that you so badly want to scratch!


My son’s sock and underwear drawers: this picture was taken on laundry day (which is also the day I run the dishwasher, hence the scarcity of plates and laundry in my photos)! When you’re a part-time blogger, it means that blogging-related activities happen on your days ‘off,’ which is also the day I get my housework done!

In the Bathroom

My son has a folding stool in the bathroom which he uses to reach the sink. His job is to retrieve this stool when we brush his teeth, and replace it when we’re done. This is a very minor task in the grand scheme of things, but it reinforces to him that there is a place for everything and everything should go back in its place.


Excuse our rather meager, outdated bathroom (yes, those are vinyl tiles)! We’re saving up for a bathroom reno over the next year or so. Will keep you posted on my blog as it happens!

There you have it! Three ways you can use home organization in different parts of your home to teach responsibility to your kiddos! Hope this was helpful! How do you get your little ones to chip in at home? Let us know in the comments below!

Jo is a part-time doctor, part-time blogger, and full-time mom to a three-year-old son. She blogs at about home decor, organization, and how to maintain your personal style (when you have kids).

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