Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WFMW - Color-Coded Kids

Hello everyone!

I haven’t played along with Works for Me Wednesday in a while – but I’m back!

Here’s an idea I’m sharing for my dear friend Sherri, the most organized mom of four that I know (in real life, anyway!). Her kids are ages 2 to 9.

I’ve been so impressed with how well this “works for her” that I’ve started this with my own kids!

Color-Coded Kids

1. Assign each child in the family a color and stick with it (for big families you have to get creative!). The younger you start them out, the better!

Use this same color when buying any personal item for that child. Here are the items Sherri buys by color:

  • Bath Towels and beach towels
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cups
  • Backpacks and/or duffle bags
  • Sleeping bags
  • Flashlights
  • Blankets
  • Camp chairs
  • Water bottles
  • Sunglasses (for kids)
  • Swim goggles

(I told you she was organized!)

Sherri says sometimes the kids themselves pick out candy, etc. based on their colors because they are so used to it!

Also consider color when buying things like:

Stocking stuffers - like pencils or balls or any toy that comes in multiple colors. It really helps if one gets broken (everyone knows who it belonged to).

2. Benefits of a color-coded family (my favorite part!):

Sherri says she originally started buying colored items as a convenience to help her stay organized. Things are easier to find and identify.

However, with time, it has also had the added benefit of teaching personal responsibility.

  • When the table is set the kids just sit where their cup is.
  • If a cup is left outside or a towel is not hung up, there is no arguing or wondering who needs to come get it.
  • One cup per day. The top of the dishwasher is not full of unclaimed cups.

3. Where to find items:

Dollar Stores seem to have the plastic colored cups.

Sherri has been known to go across town to a different Target to get the missing color. It is always worth it!

4. Other tips from Sherri:

  • Choose one color as a “guest color" for cups. This way you can rest assured that the cup in living room (or on the kitchen counter) is theirs.
  • Be patient when you are starting out. It can take a while to find the colors you are looking for.

I recently bought inexpensive towels for each of my five kids (navy, teal, purple, pink and yellow). It is amazing how well this works, even for my big kids.

Next on the agenda for me: toothbrushes!

I am hooked!

Be sure to check out all the other great tips at Shannon’s place!


Heather said...

We did this when ours were little. When they got biger they had their own ideas of what colors they wanted but when they were small they each had a color for everythiing and it really simplified everything.

Julie Q. said...

Great idea. We've got four and I should really do more of this kind of organizing. We do have different colored pens for each child that we use on the family calendar. It's a big help when we have three different soccer schedules to keep track of.

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

I have used a modified version of this with my kids and you are right it is so helpful and helps avoid arguments over who owns what. I recently was able to buy a new supply of bath towels for the home and decided to get everyone their color. This has been great with five kids bathing and knowing who left their towel where etc. etc.. Really helps in the responsibility area of hanging up their towel.
Whatever we can do to simplify our lives so that we can enjoy our families is always a big plus.

Susanne said...

That is a great idea! Your friend Sherri is one smart lady! That way too, they can't deny it's not theirs if it's not put away! :v)

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Fantastic idea! And even though I only have two kids, I think I'm going to incorporate this - I think the benefits apply no matter how many kids you have.

mamashine said...

I do this with my eight daycare kids. It makes life SO much easier, especially when they're little and you can say, "You don't drink blue! Go get your cup and stop drinking your friend's!" :)

Anonymous said...

I do this too...w/ 3 kids it is easy, pink for DD1, purple for DD2, and blue for the boy!

Carrie said...

tried this with my stepsons' towels, but now they just argue over who was blue and who was green. but then, they're special....

i'm going to try this with cups though, so i can see who didn't put theirs away. i think dad needs a color, too...

Anonymous said...

Wow!! Now that's an amazing idea. I may have to implement that one.

Jennifer said...

I do this with my triplets for sippy cups, pajamas & toothbrushes. It decreases fighting & it definitely works to teach them responsibilitiy...even at 2 1/2!
As a matter of fact, this morning they were talking about a particular thing they wanted for christmas and they each emphasized what color they wanted! (Now I just have to find a purple guitar!!!):-)

Code Yellow Mom said...

This is a fab idea - one of my great friends who has all grown children (5 boys and a girl) was actually telling me about it a few weeks ago. She said it was wonderful for keeping their household somewhat in order, and she laughed about how it really did become a part of the kids' preference...Her daughter, in a college psychology class, was asked by the professor what her favorite color was and why. When she said, "Yellow, because my mom assigned it to me when I was a little girl," he said, "OK - I'm going to ask someone else, because that doesn't fit with the point I wanted to make." I thought that was pretty funny! :)

Anonymous said...

Great idea!!

amy@flexibledreams said...

We had this when I was a kid, 20something years ago. Five kids and five colors. We also had a day of the week. I'm first, so I was Monday. I had to set the table, pray for dinner and load the dishwasher. But I also got to sit on the end at dinner. A HUGE treat since we had picnic benches around our dining room table and the only real chairs were on the ends. I'm SO doing this with my own kids.

Gina Conroy said...

We've always colored coded, but not to this extent. Even grandma is in on it. When she sends three of the same action heroes, they're all in my kids' colors!

Gwen Sirmans (Ivey's Mom) said...

Great idea...I am an organizer,but never thought of this..

Shannon said...


Rae said...

I love this system, I'll have to keep it in mind for when I start my own family! Thanks for sharing =)

Lara said...

I like this idea too. I do it with their towels but I should do it with everything!

Nettie said...

My mom did this when I was little, too. I had green and hated it. Why couldn't I have pink or blue? Funny, now my favorite color is green!

Anonymous said...

I love this idea, as it appears everyone else does!

Even though I've just got three, I'm going to start this now - we've had the 5,000 cups all over the counter problem - and no one will claim any!

Moms are brilliant.

Tina said...

My husband's mom did this as well. When we were dating I asked him what his favorite color was. He told me, in all seriousness, "Red, because my mom told me it was." He then explained how his mother did that system based on favorite colors...which was a good thing, because when he first said that I was beginning to wonder what type of "mamma's boy" I was with!