How Can the Kids Help?
By Sophia Noll
If some of you were waiting to see if the world was coming to an end on Dec 21st before you started your organizing projects, then now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get to work because we are still here!! It’s a new year and there is great change on the horizon including a newly organized you! No, the world didn’t come to an end but sometimes our child’s/teen’s room looks like it did. I can remember many times walking into my boys’ rooms and thinking that a bomb had been detonated; I just wanted to scream!! So this month we are going to venture into the unknown world of a child’s mind and see if we can’t help them keep some order in their lair which in turn will bring us much peace.
Remember that a clean room is usually not on their priority list and for some reason the chaos doesn’t seem to bother them like it bothers us. And more than likely things won’t change for a long time so learning to set up a system for them will help keep everyone sane. In this one room, their bedroom, your teen sleeps, studies, and entertains their friends so it needs to be clutter free and visually organized.
So break down the room into sections… closet, shelves, bed, and maybe a desk. Once you have gone through each area, using the steps I outlined in the last month’s issue, then you are ready to tackle these areas and bring order into their room.
Let’s start with the closet first (better known as the“black hole”!). I have often suggested that the door be taken off.
It’s easy for teens to throw their belongings into the closet on the floor and shut the door without placing their items in an orderly way. “Out of sight, out of mind” they say. Without the door this makes it more challenging for them to take this action. They will have more incentive to hang or place their items in the proper place, knowing that there is no hiding anything without a door. Provide them with ample hangers, good sturdy ones; not those flimsy wire hangers that bend with the slightest breeze. If they have more clothes than space you can purchase hangers that can hold up to five garments that don’t take up horizontal space. There is also a device that can be hung on the existing clothes rod which gives you another level for hanging clothes. Depending on the size of the closet you can also add shelving and storage units which can be found at any of the big-box stores. Get the teen involved in the process of choosing the organizing system and see what appeals to them since they will be the ones using it.
If there is limited closet space, a great item to utilize is the “over the door” clear vinyl shoe bag that has up to twenty four pockets or more. It can of course be used for shoes but so much more! Since it’s clear items put in them can be easily found. Placing it on the back of their entry door is a good option if the closet door has been taken off. Plastic containers are excellent for storage as well and can be labeled for quick retrieval on their closet shelf. You can also utilize the storage space that is under their bed. They make storage units that are designed to fit under most beds.
A desk can be a catch-all for all sorts of items which can be a distraction and discourage your teen from using it. So having a desk with adequate drawer space is a must since most likely a computer will occupy a portion of the usable surface. I like the “L” shape desks which provide a place to work without having to move the computer If limited for space, printers can be placed on top of a removable shelf that sits on the desk while using the space below for storing items such as paper.
There is also the option of using a book shelf to hold items if the desk doesn’t have enough drawers. You can purchase plastic containers or baskets that fit on the shelves that will neatly store items that would normally go in the drawers. Again let the teen go with you to pick out storage containers that appeal to them because they will be more motivated to use them. As with the closet, make sure the containers are labeled so that if they are moved the items will hopefully (there’s always hope) still go in the proper container.
And let’s not forget the wall space! If there isn’t enough room for a book shelf you can install wall mounted adjustable shelves that can grow as your teenager’s needs change. You can hang pegboards and memo boards that will provide a contained space for picture, notes, calendar, and whatever else your teen finds to put up. You can go to an office supply store where they also have hanging file organizers that… go figure… hang on the wall. So take a stroll along the isles with your teen and see what calls out to you both. Sturdy hooks will hold backpacks and keep them off the floor.
Before I forget… Probably the main ingredient in this recipe for organization is the clothes hamper.
Those can be either put on the floor or hung from the back of the door. Again there are so many options but get one for sure! Also for all the sports equipment I advise finding a place outside of the bedroom for storage. It really cuts down on the clutter in the teen’s room and makes for easier cleaning.
One more tip: Remember to be a good example. Your teen will be the first to point out that your room isn’t the most organized if it isn’t. Have a place for EVERYTHING and set up an organizational system that works for them and that they have helped design. Let your teen decide where things go as long as they go somewhere. If funds allow, let your teen paint and redecorate their room so that they develop a sense of pride in the way it looks. That way they will be more inclined to keep it orderly and neat. Create a daily list of small tasks which are easier to complete than tackling the whole room at once.
If this is more than the two of you can deal with then you can always hire a Professional Organizer like me which takes you, the parent, out of the battle zone. An Organizer is armed with tools and is not emotionally attached and can help motivate the teen in ways that the parent can’t. The saying, “A prophet is never welcome in their own home…” sometimes comes into play here. Plus you can sit back and relax while the Organizer does all the work and relieves you of all the stress!!! Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Sophia (In Its Place) has been organizing people’s lives for the past ten years from Maine to Asheville. She specializes in Organization, Personal Assistant,Household Management, Staging Homes, Senior Downsizing, and Concierge Services. Sophia offers free consultations and can be contacted at 828-333-3045. Make a New Year’s Resolution!! Give yourself the gift of Organizing!!! Gift Certificates Available.