Organize and Declutter Your Home for the Holidays

How adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD) can organize and decorate the home at holiday time — without getting overwhelmed.


Filed Under: ADHD Parents, Organization Tips for ADD Adults, Travel and Vacation Tips, Cleaning Up Clutter
Help for Adults with ADD: Organize and Declutter Your Home for the Holidays ADDitude magazine

The holidays are upon us, and so is the pressure. It’s hard enough to be an adult with attention deficit disorder or a mom with ADHD during the rest of the year, but at holiday time, our stress and anxiety, sometimes triggered by seasonal blues or depression, often increase to the point where we can’t enjoy being with our family because we’re so busy cleaning and preparing for family gatherings or planning a party. Two things to keep in mind:

  • You are not Martha Stewart! None of us is.

  • You are not your mother! A generation or more ago, many women stayed home full-time and didn’t have to carpool their children from one activity to another. Suffice it to say, that era is over.

So instead of feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, get with the program — the one below.


The Black Bag De-Cluttering Trick

  1. In November — and perhaps again in December — set a goal to de-clutter your house in an hour. Supply everyone in the family, including the kids, with black garbage bags and grocery boxes, and have them deposit unwanted or unneeded things into them.

  2. Use separate bags and/or boxes for each room — label them with masking tape and black marker, so that you know which room the items came from.

  3. Use boxes to manage paperwork or anything fragile that might be damaged if tossed around in a garbage bag.

  4. Place the labeled bags in your basement storage area or garage to be retrieved once the holidays are over.

  5. Make it your New Year’s resolution to organize, give away, or throw away each one of the bagged items.

Step-by-Step Tips: One Week Countdown

After de-cluttering, break down housecleaning and decorating into doable chunks. Each “chunk” should take no more than an hour to accomplish. Check it off the list when done.

  • 7 Days Out: Gather and wash holiday serving plates, bowls, platters, and serving utensils for the big feast.

  • 6 Days Out: Make room in the fridge for holiday dishes.

  • 5 Days Out: Wash sheets, towels, and face cloths that guests will need. Stack them in the bedroom where they’ll be used.

  • 4 Days Out: Vacuum and dust upstairs (the upstairs carpets won’t have time to get dirty again); dust main level.

  • 3 Days Out: Clean all bathrooms. Start with the one that guests will use (do the master bathroom last).

  • 2 Days Out: Vacuum and dust downstairs; clean kitchen (you’ll do a last-minute cleanup on the holiday).

  • 1 Day Out: Empty trash baskets. Do a last-minute de-cluttering trip through the house with a black garbage bag.

Before company arrives, vacuum the main level and damp-mop the kitchen floor (save this for last, just before your guests arrive).


Holiday Time Savers

  1. Don’t waste precious time ironing a wrinkled tablecloth—throw it in the dryer, then shake out the wrinkles and put it on the table.

  2. To provide instant ambiance, buy several pots of poinsettias and place them in the entry hall, living and dining rooms, and the guest bathroom. Arrange plain white pillar candles (they’re less likely to drip or tip over than tapers in candlesticks) on clear or holiday-colored plastic dessert plates. Don’t forget to arrange them around the fireplace, in the hall, and in the powder room.

  3. Instead of wiping down a dirty oven, just clean the door with oven cleaner (after all, that’s what most people will see). Then line the bottom with fresh aluminum foil.

  4. When company arrives unannounced, create a festive atmosphere by sticking one of those fragrant plug-ins into an outlet, lighting candles, and putting on a favorite CD of holiday tunes.


This article comes from the October/November issue of ADDitude.

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