Ask the Experts

Q: The Curse of “Creativity Clutter” & How to Rein It in

Your child’s busy and creative ADHD mind may be reflected in his cluttered, messy bedroom. Learn what you can do to set limits while also allowing your child to continue to be creative.

Q: “My son likes to take things apart so that he can ‘fix’ them or make other things from their parts. As a result, his bedroom drawers and nightstand are full of random parts and pieces, he can’t find anything he actually needs, and everything ends up on the floor. He is 11 with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD), and I need help to know how to respect his ideas, his space and projects, but still be able to walk through his room without hurting my feet.” – Concord Mom

Hi Concord Mom: 

I applaud you for wanting to be respectful of your son’s space and projects. He sounds like a creative, out-of-the-box thinker! That being said, I believe it’s your job to set parameters — and your child’s job to negotiate them. Here’s what I mean.

  1. Create custom clutter zones. Differentiate between workspace and clear space in his bedroom. For example, allow your son to keep his worktable and nearby shelves however he wants. But the areas around his door and closets must be clutter free. Allow for “clutter days.” Your son can have free rein over his room Monday through Friday, but Saturday is family cleanup day. Also, make sure he has ample space in his room to work on his creations and display his projects. Perhaps a workstation with pull-out drawers and shelves above will do the trick of reining in the pieces and projects.
  1. Cede full control. Kids crave independence, so empower your child by giving him choices while setting boundaries. Tell your son he can keep his room the way he likes but he is now responsible for his own laundry. That idea of one freedom for one rule makes kids more likely to comply with your clutter edicts.
  1. Partner before parenting. You have the perfect partner in your son. Sit down with him and simply ask what he thinks would work to solve this situation. What does he need to make it better for both of you? Perhaps a rolling cart with drawers would do the trick, or a corner of the basement to work on his projects? You’d be surprised how creative kids can be when they are simply asked!

[3 Games for Clearing Out Clutter]

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, answers questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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