Saturday, August 17, 2013

5 Steps Toward Facilitating Better Clothing Management for Boys

Jack's Accessible Clothing
When I went into the boys’ room this morning to guide Luke during Family Work Time, I was appalled by the state of his and Jack’s clothing.  Not only did I find clothing tossed and the floor and draped over furniture, but the boys’ clothing shelves, drawers and closet hanging rod were a mess – clothing was shoved about in wrinkled disasters. 

Obviously, the system I that I had had in place to help the boys become more independently responsible for the care and storage of their clothing had broken down.  It needed to be tweaked.  Thirty minutes and five steps later, it was.

My Strategy for Collaboratively Tweaking the Boys’ Bedroom Clothing Areas

Bins in drawers make for easier management.

1.  Empty all drawers, shelves and hanging spaces.

For now, only two shirts are hung in the boy' closet -- one for Jack and one for Luke, up high, to keep them wrinkle free and ready for "nice dress"times.

I believe that children should be given ample opportunity to "do it myself", or, when they cannot do things for themselves, to be given as much help and guidance as they need to complete a task, and little more.

Thus, with Luke, I emptied a drawer, continued on with Steps Two and Three, and, then, emptied another drawer.  With each drawer and shelf, Luke and I completed Steps Two and Three before moving to the next.  (I did the boy’ closet hanging rod myself later, as the timer for Family Work Time went off before we had completed Steps 1-3 and Luke was ready for a break.)

2.  Determine how many outfits/items your child can reasonably manage.

Luke is now responsible for three warm-weather outfits on his shelf, on his body or in his hamper.
We decided to limit undies to seven and socks to five, with two pairs of jammie pants for Luke and five sets of jammies for Jack.

Then, because Luke has not been managing the 7-10 outfits we keep on his shelves well, I suggested that we keep no more than four in his room right now – three for warm weather and one for cooler weather, based on the current season.  I also let Luke know that I wanted him to be successful in his responsibilities and thought he could be.  However, if we later discover that four outfits prove to many for him to manage, then the number of his accessible outfits would be reduced further until he met with success. 

Of course, Luke questioned the idea of having two to four outfits accessible.  At this point, though, I reminded him that many people have only the clothes on their backs.  Having more clothing is a privilege.  After a bit more conversation, Luke agreed to test out managing four outfits and, together, and we proceeded to pick the four he wanted to keep in his room.

I asked Luke to pick out his three most comfortable shorts-and-tee outfits as well as a pair of pants and a sweatshirt.  As he did this, I also asked him to put any clothing that he does not like wearing at all in one pile and other clothing that he would like to keep for future management and wear in another.

Meanwhile, because Jack was busy with Nina in another room while Luke and I worked, I selected outfits for him. (Jack is not picky about what he puts on.)
For Jack, I selected seven warm weather outfits and three cool weather outfits – not because Jack is better at managing his clothes than Luke is, but because Jack tends to go through more outfits in one day due potty accidents, spilling food on himself and playing with messy things. 

While selecting “keeper” clothes, Luke and I chatted and, defined “managing clothing” as:
  • If an item is clean when you take it off, put it back on your shelves, in your drawers or on your hanging rod.
  • If it is dirty, put it in your hamper.
  • When putting away clothing, put it in the right place, neatly folded or rolled.
3.  Guide your child in folding and putting away “keeper” clothing.

Luke is also keeping one pair of pants and a sweatshirt out for cooler days and nights.

While deciding which clothing Luke and Jack would be keeping in their rooms as clothing available for daily wear,  I realized the way we had Luke's shirts and shorts folded was easy for him folding-wise, but not stacking-on-, nor taking-off-shelves -wise.  So, we practiced a new way of folding. 

Then, I guided Luke in putting away his clothes neatly while I put away Jack’s.

4.  Sort and bag up the rest of the clothing to be donated, sold or kept to use later.

Paired down jammies drawers helped us beef up the take-out-of-the-room bags.

After our Family Work Time timer went off, the children enjoyed some free play while I bagged up clothing that would no longer be stored in their room.  It felt good to carry the trash bags of clothing to the basement, leaving only as many clothes in the boy’ room as I think they can reasonably manage.  (Well, to be honest, I am not sure if they can reasonably manage what is now in their rooms, but at least there is a greater chance that they will and facilitating this chance is my current goal!)

5.  Be sure there is an easily accessible hamper for your child to use.

Potty training means lots of laundry.  Hampers are essential!

While working, I noticed that the boys’ pop-open bedroom hampers were knocked over in a corner of their room with stuffed toys near them.  Ah, perhaps that was the reason I found clothing on the floor.  I thought.  The boys may have been using their hampers for imaginary play.

With this, I re-set the hammers, and reminded them that hampers are for dirty clothes only.  If they want burrows for stuffed toys, they can find other ones or ask me for something to use.  (Care for their environment and their imaginations are both important in my book!)

And, so it was the tweaking of our boys’ room clothing storage and care system was finished this morning.

Now, I am happy to report, that our efforts are already proving fruitful.  After Luke got himself wet during some outdoor play, he went into his room, changed his outfit and put his other outfit in appropriate places.  Let’s hope the trend continues!

Drawers that have plenty of empty space don't explode often.

By limiting accessible clothing, putting it all in places where it is easy for the boys to reach and working with the boys regularly to help them master folding and putting away their clothing, I hope to increase their sense of "I can (and will!) do it myself!"

How do you help your boys to help themselves with independent clothing care and storage?

This post is being shared at Montessori Monday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this! Marcus needs some help in this area. I current hang all his shirts but my new plan today is to implement something similar to your suggestion!! Thankyou for sharing :)


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