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Two homes? Help your child take care of their belongings

If your child lives between homes it's not uncommon for them to misplace a sock or two. Here's how to help keep track of their belongings.

The worst part about spending money on items your child needs is the thought of spending more money to replace lost items. If you and your partner are separated and sharing parenting duties, it can be hard to keep track of your child’s items when they’re between two houses. One sock, a lonely shoe, or a missing night-time teddy, kids are infamous for always losing one item or the other. While there is only so much parents can control,  there are measures parents can put in place to avoid kids losing things.

The importance of responsibility & routine

Some kids may be naturally organised, but for the most part, it is up to us as parents to teach them how to keep track of their belongings and to realise the importance of responsibility. Young children are focused on so many things at once that it is common for them to lose their things.

The sure way of establishing this life lesson is through routine. Does your child unpack their own clean washing, or overnight bags after staying the weekend with mom or dad? Is there an allocated spot for their wallet, cellphone, iPad, video games, computer mouse, toys, and so on? This is the start of teaching your child ownership and responsibility for their belongings. Talking about the routine at home is a daily reminder that needs to take place until the routine is established and essentially until your child does remember to bring things home after a day out or weekend away from home.

Label everything

Leave no item unmarked. This means every piece of stationery, item of clothing, piece of technology, and sports gear. For clothing, investing in quality vinyl and iron labels will save you a fortune throughout the year. There are many local suppliers that do this. There are even ink stamps. Make sure it has your child’s name and surname as well as a cell phone number.

Create a checklist for your child

Put it in their overnight bags and depending on their age, ask your partner to assist in checking that items that went to their house are packed in at the end of the day. Be mindful that the end result is not your ex-partner making sure it’s done, but your little one who needs to do it. Keep it simple. Make it visual using images as reminders.

Praise them when they do bring things home

Positive reinforcement goes a long way when dealing with children. Children love to be praised and to “overhear” mom and dad talking positively about them. Use this trick to mention in passing to your partner. Let your child overhear you. Before long, they will be remembering their belongings on purpose, just to get the positive attention.

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