Inside the mind of a professional organizer: The mom edition — parenting, kids and organization

Jessi Bushman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Jessi Bushman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Jessi Bushman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Jessi Bushman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Organization is a learned and teachable skill that we can acquire at any age or stage of life. The outcome of our effort to become and remain organized is one of the most fulfilling habits we can embrace.

As a parent, you are the first and primary example for your kids to learn organizational skills. I’m a firm believer, the earlier you begin displaying positive habits to your kids, the easier to practice and set the standard.

Organization is more than stacking papers in a neat pile. It’s a process and gateway to learn efficient ways to approach daily tasks. That said, every day we are doing something that revolves around organization. You might not realize it, but you constantly are setting examples for your kids.

Your morning routine, daily structure and dinnertime habits all branch from your attitude, organization and priority management skills, or lack thereof.

Years ago, I spent a couple nights with my long lost cousin and his family. After dinner, we were watching TV. As we were halfway through one episode, his youngest son got up and wished us a good night. I quickly objected by stating the show wasn’t over. Not missing a beat, his response was, (an 8-year-old) it was his bedtime and he needed to get a full night’s rest for the next day so he could be productive and accomplish his tasks.

Wow. That kid learned a thing or two from his parents. Dad owns an excavating business, so you can imagine his example of dedication to his career, while raising a family.

This outlook definitely is generational. Our dads were brothers, so my exposure was similar.

As I share this moment with you, do you ponder bedtime in your household? What is your attitude toward bedtime, and how do you express that to your kids?

Bedtime is just one example of displaying our mindset. Every day, we have the opportunity to start fresh and set a positive example.

One of the greatest approaches to teaching kids organizational habits is to communicate to them why we ask or tell them to do something.

I’m sure you’ve heard this response from your parents: “Because I said so.” This is the No. 1 response that makes me think or act out with resistance. I’m guessing you and your kids feel the same way.

Teaching kids new methods, habits and explaining why we do something will help them build team values within the home, as well as encourage self-confidence, critical thinking and purpose early in life.

The biggest obstacle any parent can create is doing everything for the kids by not delegating household and personal maintenance tasks. Kids need our guidance and encouragement to learn how to recognize and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Start small by establishing easy habits and organizing tasks for kids.


If your kids do not have a built-in jolt to jump out of bed, consider a clock in their room, using the alarm when they get older. This will help kids understand their schedule and the time it takes to get ready for the day. You also can work in a buffer time if you need more sleep by creating specific limitations, allowing adult time/sleep if they wake before you.


Dedicate one-to-one time by reading a book, or ask your kids to share their daily activities.

Kids typically will hold you accountable once a bedtime routine is established. It’s likely they will be excited for their one-to-one time with you and look forward to bedtime.

It’s up to you to set this standard.

After day care or school

Another great opportunity to factor in time of day is by organizing a schedule for kids to complete school work, play with friends, have a snack or perform daily tasks around the house.

Having an ideal dinner time in mind also can help eliminate side-tracking snacks, causing frustration as to why they are not eating dinner.

WeekendsI know we all love a good free-for-all, and weekends are the ultimate fantasy time to do nothing. But for parents, it’s the time to get things done.

This is the perfect opportunity to break up your to-do list and delegate tasks for kids to complete. This also is the opportunity to explain why tasks are required to maintain your home, build value in your home and possessions. The concept of money is unknown unless we teach them.

Special occasions and holidays

Create an annual family calendar. Teach kids how to plan for upcoming occasions by establishing a scope and budget for gifts.

Planning ahead is an organizational trait that allows us to save time, effort, spending and last-minute impulse decisions.

Another wonderful perspective to teach kids is that material things are not always ideal. Tap into their (and your) creative side by making gifts or creating experiences to celebrate your favorite occasions.

We are big kids ourselves, coming from different generations, age brackets and influence. Regardless of our background, one thing we can agree on is that we love to learn and share.

We love the attention we receive when we are being taught something new, without judgment or shame. We build confidence within ourselves and kids by investing time and effort. We also can find ourselves on a two-way street, learning something new as we teach.

The ultimate parental goal is to teach and set the example for kids to hug, love, talk, share, express feelings and boundaries while showing gratitude to others. When kids are provided guidance, they tend to understand and appreciate more in life.

Jessi Bushman is a professional organizer, member of the Iowa Professional Organizers Association and owner of Organizer Jessi in Dubuque. Visit her at or on Facebook at OrganizerJessi.

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