- 1 or more messy teenager who needs to learn some organizational skills
- 1 Box labeled ‘Donate’
- 1 Tote labeled ‘Keepsakes’
- 1 Tote labeled ‘Supplies’
- Storage-do you have enough drawers, shelves
- A large dose of patience
Gather your teen and explain that “Today is the day!” Make sure you have already purchased and have labeled the above totes/boxes. Do they have tons of clothes? Make sure you purchase or gather enough hangers. By being prepared, you are showing them that you are for real and this is going to be a project with a rewarding end! The box labeled donate and keepsakes are self explanatory.
I include an extra box or tote for supplies. Every teen has the extra binders, pens, notebooks thrown around their room that they may not need this semester, but perhaps need them handy for random assignments or the next semester. Confining these to a tote that they can easily grab from will keep things from getting lost and more organized.
The photo above was me taking everything my son had on his floor, in his closet, in his chaotic drawers and dresser/bookshelf. I took it all and piled it on his bed. The reason I emptied his shelves and dresser top is because I don’t remember the last time he possibly wiped down his furniture. I had a rag and furniture cleaner waiting for him. I explained that the more clothes he can hang in the closet would give him more drawers to use as he categorized the extra stuff.
Get the clothing hung up and folded away first. this will cut way down on the heap. Create piles according to like items. A gaming pile, toiletries/cosmetics pile, accessories (belts, hats, wallets) pile, etc.. These will have a dedicated drawer/shelf/tote in the end. Creating these piles on the floor allows you to eyeball the size area they will need for storage. If they have too many purses to fit in a spare drawer-a tote may be needed. Know the spaces and room storage you have and dedicate each space to items. Explain that keeping this room clean is now easier and expected because everything has a spot now.
When my son last tackled his room it was due to him stuffing and being lazy so his project was a lesson that he needs to just put things away correct the first time we ask. For you, perhaps it will be a bit of bonding. Make a day of it and end the day with a dinner out. Create conversations as you clean and continue them over a meal. I look back at the other week and really wish we had done this, but had not thought of that at the time. We were focused on our own frustrations with him.
Make this an experience, not a chore. They are teenagers and you only have a few years left before you toss them into the real world. They need to be told the tips we take for granted or learned the hard way ourselves. They will have roommates or relationships that will judge them on their behaviors. Lazy and sloppy is a behavior, not a way to get out of doing what they don’t want to. I love using the phrase “If you act like a 16 year old child, you will be treated like a child. If you act like a 16 year old mature person, you will be treated maturely”!
Don’t expect smooth sailing from here out. Set goals to teach them maintenance. For us, our rule is that his weekend will not start unless his room is to our standards. On Thursday we remind him that if he goes to school Friday morning with his room a disaster, then he can expect to come straight home from school and clean it before his plans can start.
Do you have messy teenager woes in your home?