One of the main concerns parents have related to executive functioning is organization of materials and space.
Parents will share concerns such as:
“Her backpack is a mess, and there are crumpled up papers at the bottom of the backpack”
“His desk is so cluttered with toys and things that he cannot work at it”
“I purchased new pens, pencils, and highlighters, and now they have all disappeared”
These concerns are shared by many. In order to help with organizational deficits, we need to be proactive.
The first step, however, may not be helping the child or teen. It may be taking an honest reflection regarding how the values WE, the adults, have about organization. With the quick and unexpected arrival of COVID 19 in March, 2020, we were all caught off guard and did whatever it took to keep life moving. Naturally, with little preparation and with being home all the time, clutter increased and maintaining organization was challenging. Once the stay-at-home orders were lifted, and we returned to a life of school and work outside the home, we were eager to return to life as we knew it before the pandemic.
What didn’t happen for many was a reorganization and decluttering from our time at home. Now, two years later, it is time to re-establish the organization of materials and space BEFORE we ask our children to engage in similar tasks.
If you want to be “clutter-free in 2023,” consider the following:
- Start with items or areas that you have not looked through in a year or more. There is a strong possibility that many of the materials may not have sentimental value or be of use anymore. What was once heavily relied upon space or materials may actually be easy to get rid of or donate.
- With control of clutter, it is never a “one and done” scenario. Set weekly maintenance time for each family member to tidy up areas they use heavily. It is easier to tidy up on a regular basis rather than to go through an area that has not been touched in a long time.
- Take it one step at a time. One reason why individuals maintain clutter is that it can become overwhelming to think about, much less take on. One way to overcome this is to put items that are alike in the same container and adopt the motto “everything has its place.” This way, the “clutter” is contained until there is more time to go through items. Just don’t forget to label each container!
- Work with your children to understand the process of removing clutter. Remember that getting rid of things for children can be tough for a host of reasons, so having a plan is important:
- Let your child(ren) know why organizing is important so there’s “buy in.”
- Focus on one type of item at a time. Too much can be overwhelming. For example, go through just games one day and books the next day.
- Allow each child to have their special things even if you don’t think they are of value. Instead of arguing, offer a drawer, shelf, or box for the special items.
- It’s always a good idea to go through school supplies. Markers that are dried up and staplers that don’t work are CLUTTER.
- Pick and choose your battles. When one decides it’s time to get rid of clutter, not everyone will jump in to join you. It’s not worth a fight. Instead, focus on beginning in areas and materials that are used by everyone.
Here’s to being “clutter free in 2023!”