Ask the Experts

Q: “How Can I Get My Family to Maintain Household Clutter Routines?”

Household clutter piles up when family members don’t stick to systems. Here, learn how to devise an organizing structure that works and how to get everyone on board.

Happy family housekeeping together flat vector illustration. Daughter, mother and father working for household and clean home. Housekeeping and house concept
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Q: “How can I get the family to pull together and maintain a routine or system to avoid more clutter? Everyone says, “Get a cleaner.” But that won’t solve the problem unless we get a live-in cleaner!” – ADHD mom


Hi ADHDMom:

As you know, it’s not only difficult to find organizing systems that work for you and your family; it can be nearly impossible to maintain the ones you create if you don’t have everyone onboard. Here are a few of my favorite tips to get you started.

1. Be certain everything has a home. There is no hope of keeping clutter from piling up unless everything that lives in your home (and I mean everything) has a home. Simply put, clutter is delayed decision making. And usually, the delay is due to not knowing where something goes. If you don’t know where something lives in your home, you’re more apt to let it sit wherever it lands.

2. Be realistic about space. Start by asking yourself if you have room for everything you want to keep. For this process to truly work, you need to start at the end and not at the beginning. Meaning, you need to determine how much space you have for all of your furniture, kitchenware, books, pictures, clothing, paper, sentimental items, and belongings of everyone who lives in the home. Once you designate homes for all your stuff, maintaining our organizing systems will naturally flow.

3. Categorize your stuff. Once you truly know how much space you have, assign a specific amount of space to each category of stuff. For example, in addition to the kitchen, you might dedicate two shelves in the garage or a corner in the basement for kitchen overflow items. In other words, you choose first how much space to devote to specific categories and then decide what goes there.

[Get This Free Download: Your Guide to Controlling Clutter]

4. Gather the troops. I don’t know your kids’ ages or what rooms in your home need the most work, but enlisting your children and your partner (if there is one) in the process can make all the difference. The same rules apply for them. Determine how much space to devote to their stuff and have your children decide what goes there. In doing so, you are helping them build critical decision-making skills. Everyone will feel more in control of their stuff, and you’ll feel more in control of the clutter.

I want to leave you with this piece of advice that my adult clients with ADHD find really works: Trying to get your whole house decluttered and organized all at once can be very overwhelming and exhausting. And truthfully nearly impossible. Try starting the process by creating clutter-free zones. So perhaps you allow your children to keep their rooms however they want for the time being, but communal spaces like the den or kitchen are top priorities to become clutter-free.

And if you are looking for more organizing tips and tools, please check out our website at orderoochaos.com.

ADHD Household Clutter: Next Steps


ADHD Family Coach 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.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!


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