Organizing my sons bedroom

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    • #182989

      Hello folks,

      My is is aged 7, and diagnosed with ADHD, plus being reviewed for a number of other learning disabilities.
      One of the things my wife and I struggle with, is his messy bedroom. He will reach to the bottom drawer of clothes, throw everything out to get to a t shirt or something, or wear something once, and then throw it on the floor, dirty clothes never make the wash bin!

      Also we will get him to tidy his room, which lasts about 2 days, then toys are strewn all over the place.
      We have storage bins in his room, and book shelves and other things to organize his room, but they are never used.

      Rather than take things away, do you have any ideas on how to get his room tidy, and keep it that way?
      Sure, I get it, it will not be perfect all the time, but looking at ideas to help him become a better organizer.

      Thank you in advance


    • #183030
      Penny Williams

      We used to do a quick pickup every night before bed. Clear bins are most helpful as well. You can label them with pictures and text for better results.

      Here are more ideas:

      When a Professional Organizer Has a Child with ADHD

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #183226

      Hello, I’m a 17 year old with add and while I can’t say for certain what I do will work for your son it might be worth a try. I used to have the exact same issue. I stopped using draws because not being able to see everything or shuffle through was difficult so I always ended up getting it all over the place. I now hang all of my cloth I can and have a hanging basket for all other stuff.
      You can also try if you haven’t already slowing showing him how to clean certain things around the house step by step to get him to learn to do it was he becomes idle. My parents had me doing chores so that I learn to just sweep or wipe stuff off when I get antsy. Once I got used to things being clean It would start bothering me if it wasn’t.
      While I still have some struggles with my room I now keep it in good shape.
      Also try saying he has to be able to see most of his floor before getting to do other things so that he will get in the habit of having it cleared.
      Now most of this won’t help a lot in the short term due to most of it being habit. It can help with long term coping. Add does not always get better with time so it is very important to set good habits early. It really made a world of difference for me. I really hope this helps. Best of luck.

      Oh one more thing that I think is very important but may be differ person to person. Try having him come up with the organisation. I can never keep things were they go when someone else decides for me, but when I decide it is much easier. Tho many people are the opposite and need to have it decided for them.

    • #183753

      Hi, my son is 7 as well with ADHD. His room was also always a mess he would unplug his lamp, move his night table, legos all over, clean clothes in dirty bin,etc. On the weekend I would help him clean up but that got old fast.

      We had to find something that really motivated him and he loves playing Minecraft (yes, a video game). We let him play this 30 minutes after dinner as,ling as he is showred, cleaned his room and had a decently good behavior day at school. This worked almost immediately. He keeps track of time and will have dinner, do his own shower, clean up his room (no longer that messy since he does this daily), brush teeth and then get to play his game. This has worked consistently for 3 months now so hope it continues.

    • #183773

      I’ll be honest, I’m 26 with ADHD and I still struggle with this constantly. I can’t speak on what works, but I can tell you what the biggest detriment for me was. For my entire life I was simply told to do things and never given a direct answer on HOW. When told to “clean my room,” I’d sit for hours stressing over where to start, and how to finish. How do you know when it’s clean enough? What if I work all day on it and it’s not good enough? I think what would have helped me the most is having someone walk me through the process a few times, and start the task with me. At all costs, avoid making your child feel embarrassed or ashamed about his mess. For me, those feelings led to an inability to ask for help when I got overwhelmed.

    • #183902

      We struggle with this too with our 8 year old son. I’ve realized that he can’t really clean without having company to keep him on track and give him specific jobs. (Put the books away. Ok, now put the Legos in the bin.) If I told him to clean his room or even “Put the Lego away” and left, I can 100% guarantee I’ll come back to a mess. I hope it becomes automatic for him one day, but we’re not there yet.

      If anything has too many steps to put away, he won’t do it (much like my husband, actually), so I had to get rid of storage bins with lids. Everything has a home, and is generally in a bin with no lid, so he can just throw it in. I try to make it one step if possible. Label everything (or put a picture on, if that’s easier for him).

      We used to do a clean 30 mins before bed as a family, but I found I ended up managing everyone and it got frustrating for me because as soon as I walked away from someone, they stopped working. I’m trying to have him clean up when he’s done with something now, in the moment. But I do have to be there to keep him on track.

      We haven’t tried it yet, but a counsellor suggested using a Pomodoro timer to keep tasks on track.

    • #183887
      Dr. Eric

      1. Bins are the easiest way to organize.

      2. Be okay with “organized enough” instead of “organized” will be doomed to not be sustained.

      3. Consider a whiteboard checklist or visible schedule for reminders and/or routine. This facilitates the child being able to monitor the work instead of his being driven by parental verbal reminders (AKA nagging).

      4. Take a picture of how things are supposed to look. This way, there is an exemplar to compare things to.

    • #186216
      Amber Pickler

      It’s difficult to tell children about the organization of their things if I myself barely keep up with everything. The only thing that helped was the organizers. We bought some of them with superheroes, but kids got tired of this game quickly. Now it’s rather a duty to put things in their places, especially for an older son. If the room is a mess, they often can find the right things, but I don’t help. This motivates them to clean at once a week.

    • #192376

      Thank you everyone for your suggestions, they have been most helpful.
      One thing that we have done rather than use a dresser and put folded clothes away in a drawer that my son cannot see, my wife and I bought a clothes rack, so his clothes are hung up, and we have placed it in a way that he walk all the way around it and pick what he wants to wear.
      We found this works really well, and I would say, setting this up for him, as meant a HUGE reduction in clean clothes on the floor.

    • #192767

      Hello I am 24 years old and still do not know how to clean my room. I won’t even notice there is stuff laying around. I just see it as a “fixture” of the room. That sounds super goofy but for real. I literally am like “oh that was always there”. My partner is getting aggravated with me because I can’t figure out how to clean up after myself. I do not know how to prioritize it. I also feel like no matter how much you try to describe adhd people see it as this like glamorized goofy thing. Or i DONT know just this like cinematic “ohhh squirrel!” Crap. But I feel like at 24 I’m really suffering in a lot of ways. People see it as laziness or like not caring about others or yourself. And honestly I am so distracted that I’m not even thinking about cleaning I’m just like constantly going in my mind. When I do get to the cleaning aspect of things I literally do not know where to start. Sometimes I just pick up an item and then I try to focus on that item and where I’m going to put it and where it’s going to go. that usually helps keep me focused TILL IT DOESNT BECAUSE I START GRABBING MULTIPLE ITEMS AND I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IM DOING BECAUSE NOW I HAVE 8 THINGS IN MY HAND THAT ALL GO DIFFERENT PLACES. AND I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IM DOING SO I FREAK OUT AND STOP. That… that my friends is adhd at its finest. It’s exhausting.

    • #192768

      Also here’s my resolution to your 7 year old. Make him pick up 1 item. And say take that 1 items and “you choose where it goes” I had a therapist do this for me. It literally blew my mind and YES I HAD A THERAPIST COME TO MY HOUSE AND HELP ME Excuse me… TEACH ME HOW TO CLEAN MY ROOM. I WAS 17 years old… lol ok ok but for real. Take your kid. Go 1 item at a time. Remember we are thinking way waaaaaay faster then 1 item. We are thinking like 8 things. Bring it to one. Ask him where he wants to put it.

    • #194285
      Anna Martin

      The best thing you can do is to help him develop very specific daily habits based on memorized routines. It takes those of us with ADHD longer to develop those habits; it’s typical for children to lag behind by about three years. So expect it to take three years longer of constant coaching for him to make it a habit. And even then, they’ll have to work at keeping it a habit.

      A few tips:

      Don’t scold or criticize. Just tell your child what they should do, gently redirect them, and patiently explain in as few words as possible what he has to do.
      Don’t expect perfection. Don’t even expect tidiness. If he can find his shoes and have space to walk through the room, you are ahead. Focus on keeping things actually clean, i.e., clean sheets and no food trash.
      Learn to shut the door of his room and let it be. You can’t constantly be cleaning up after him.
      Get rid of extra stuff. People with ADHD tend to accumulate stuff. Have frequent clear-outs.
      Give simple directions. People with ADHD can have a hard time remembering and following multiple steps. Especially children. My son was a teenager before he could be reliably expected to be thoroughly washed when he finished a bath.

    • #194728

      First of all can I just say how much, i have enjoyed reading this thread. As this is a daily struggle in our house. We are currently redoing my daughter’s room and employing many of these strategies. In our case my daughter loves the color pink,so I bought a bunch of pink containers to help encourage her using them. This included some tubs to put things into storage. Since there was a variety of items she no longer plays with, but the thought of getting rid of them was causing massive meltdowns. For the containers in her room she was in charge of deciding what goes into each container. We are still in the process of cleaning out her room, but so far the amount of stuff leaving her room has been quite rewarding.

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