Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: The Cramped Space Problem

Two teens + one bedroom + ADHD = serious clutter and stress. Here’s how parents can help their children make the most of shared space, without letting ADHD’s mess-friendly tendencies take over the floor (and the closet, and the dresser, and the desk).

Q: “My teen sons share a cluttered and messy bedroom. The younger one has ADHD. My daughter likes to save everything and her room is full of little things. How can I help them stay organized with limited space? It seems overwhelming at times.” —NaplesMom

Hi NaplesMom:

I feel your pain. Children’s bedrooms are usually small, often shared, and must be multi-functional — storage units, homework station, play space… It’s not easy to keep the clutter at bay. Here are some of my tried and true tips from the trenches!

  1. Save Space. Store. When we live in small spaces, we need to consistently edit and weed out staff. Change of seasons is a good time to sort through clothes, papers, books, etc. and pare down what’s not needed or used. In the process, take a hard look at what is living in their shared space. Can out-of-season clothing go into storage? Can some books or toys go to the den? Then set up designated storage spaces for each child in their room. Use clearly labeled bins and baskets with each child’s name to create natural and separate zones.
  2. Think Air Space: Wall-hung storage helps maximize space by keeping everything off the floor. Place hardly-used items up and out of the way while everyday remain within reach. Try hanging pegboards (my favorite). They come in fun colors, are easily hung, and provide space for little baskets filled with hard-to-organize stuff.

Clear shoe bags are another easy and fun way to get organized. Hang them in the closet or behind the bedroom door. Store small toys, electric cords and wires, jewelry, socks and underwear, or any other lose items for instant organization and better use of bedroom airspace.

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Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer 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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