Thursday, June 9, 2011

PSA: Color coding family members

As we have had more children, I have been VERY GRATEFUL that I started color-coding things early!  It just sort of happened at my house:  Ian went through his firefighter/fire engine phase, then David LOVED "Blue's Clues".  Ian claimed all things red and informed me that David could have all things blue, and our color-coding system was born!  I decided that those colors were pretty close to their birthstones, so from then on I would assign children their color according to their birthstone color.  I also assigned Husband and I colors (mostly for calendar purposes).

A pack of markers that goes on sale at school supply time is about $1, and usually has:  black, brown, red, blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange.  Also, I've noticed that a lot of things come in red, blue, yellow, and green, so keep that in mind as you choose colors.

Color coding people has been VERY HANDY for: 
*writing appointments on the calendar:  it's easy to glace up and see who has something that day
*cereal bowls, cups:  NO MORE FIGHTING OVER WHICH COLOR CUP SOMEONE IS GOING TO USE!  After a few times of saying, "I'm sorry you want the _______ cup, your family color is _______." they GAVE IT UP and just used their color!
*toothbrushes:  no more mixing up toothbrushes!
*plastic Easter eggs:  when we have an egg hunt, everybody knows to only pick up THEIR color of egg, so we have no problems with one person getting most of the eggs while someone else hardly gets any
*re-usable water bottles:  everyone has their own color, so no fighting over who it belongs to
*notebooks, folder, pencils, scissors, backpacks, lunch boxes:  no more wondering whose school supplies are lying around

For things that I can't buy in different colors, I went to the paint section, I believe, of a certain store, and discovered that they now make duct tape in different colors!  So I bought a roll in everyone's family color, and I use that to mark things that are identical or don't have a specific color (toothbrushes, bags of candy or boxes of cereal for Christmas/Easter/Valentine's Day, toys from kids' meals).  This is really helpful at Christmas, or any other time a lot of new things come in the house, because I can tag everyone's new toys and then I don't have to try to remember which thing belongs to which person. 

Color-coding has been a BIG HELP for me!


Marie Green said...

Good system! I also have heard of the dot system for clothes and shoes and things that can be passed down: You put 1 dot on the oldest's, 2 on the next child's, and on down, so that your youngest has 5 dots. When your oldest outgrows a pair of shoes, you add another dot, and now it has 2 dots and indicates it's the 2nd born's. When he outgrows it, you add another dot...

We don't have a need for this system in our house (the twins are the same size and M gets ALL of their hand-me-downs), but maybe when #4 comes we'll need it?

Swistle said...

We color-code, too! Although, we got kind of messed up because Rob was blue (first boy, and the color of his favorite blankie), and then William was green---but when they got a little older, Rob's favorite color was green and William's was blue, so they switched. And then we had four boys and I wanted to give orange to Edward but he hates orange (and as you've noticed, most things are red, yellow, green, blue), and then ACK. And now Edward's favorite color is red and Henry's is blue, and we have a girl and she likes pink/purple but there ISN'T always pink/purple, so then she wants red because it's "closest to pink," but I want to give her yellow because it seems the most girlish to me.

But still, if I'm dividing things, I rely on the system, shaky as it is.

Carmen said...

This is ingenious! I shall be adopting this forthwith!

Anonymous said...

Wow - genius! I never would have thought of such a simple, useful system!

Doing My Best said...

Marie Green: I have found the dot system to be VERY helpful now that I am not the only person doing the laundry. When Husband does some, or it is one of the children's chores to be the "laundry helper", they can sort (when folding) the laundry by looking at the dots instead of asking me which (sock, underwear, shirt, pants...) belongs to which person. Your kids are spread out enough that it might be more obvious which article of clothing belongs to which person? I never bothered dotting the baby's clothes since even my boys could tell the difference between Baby's clothes and everyone else's clothes =).

Swistle: Wow! It is amazing to me that you can keep up with the color changes! We have a few snaggles because Marie's color is green, but sometimes she wants pink, and #4's color would be white, but white doesn't show up on the calendar, so then I picked yellow....but yellow doesn't show up really well on the calendar either, so I use brown and for most other things I use yellow (but his picture albums are white!)....and sometimes there is no red, so we use orange....sometimes, I just don't buy something because IT DOES NOT LINE UP WITH THE FAMILY COLORS! But MOST of the time, it works out very nicely =). And children tend to have incredible memories for what belongs to who, so, even if I forget one of the exceptions to the rule, somebody will remember.

Carolyn said...

This is super brilliant, I'm going to have to keep it in mind for when we have more than one kid!