My clients hear that question all the time.

When they complain about the backpacks plopped in the middle of the kitchen floor, or the car keys that can’t be found when needed, or the pile of missing mail from two days ago…whether its backpacks, keys, or the incoming mail – whatever it is – I ask, “Where should that item live? Where is its home? We know where it doesn’t belong – where does it belong?”

This question is usually met with an eerie silence. That’s the problem in a nutshell, folks: you can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a home.

Keys on hooks by the door

Keys on hooks by the door

So: establishing a home is step one. The right spot should be logical, practical, and doable. Your child can’t slide a backpack into a cubby that’s four feet above her head, and it doesn’t make sense to walk through three rooms of the house to put away your car keys. Remember: logical, practical, and doable.

Step two is developing the habit of actually putting the item where it belongs, and that takes time.

Have faith – we humans are smart cookies. We can be trained to establish new routines so that, over time, hanging keys on a hook by the door will become a habit. Teach your child that the backpack goes on a reachable peg every day when she comes in from school. Put the incoming mail in that one designated spot so you can find it when you’re ready to process it, and in a matter of weeks, maybe even days, some common daily frustrations will actually be eliminated by answering that one simple question: Where should it live?

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2 Thoughts on “Where Should It Live?

  1. Terry Fleig on March 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm said:

    I always run into problems when something is so important, I feel I have to put it someplace special.

    • Jamie Shaner on March 8, 2017 at 7:50 am said:

      Maybe that’s making it too complicated to find it when you need it. Logical and practical seem more useful for retrieval than “special.” I understand that might be easier said than done, but perhaps rethink your current process, and also, maybe a written “key” to where stuff is kept would be a helpful backup plan.

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