Manage Your House

When the Kitchen Is the Family Room

The kitchen is a default gathering space for many families. But without structure and order, the space can quickly become chaotic and unusable. Learn how to create more space in and organize a kitchen in a busy ADHD household.

Q: “Everyone in our family has ADHD. We all love hanging out together in the kitchen, which makes it the most challenging place in our home to keep organized. Every spot has some unopened mail nearby, paperwork, notes about errands, a pen to create more lists, eyeglasses, and so on. How do we organize all this, so that we have a pleasant place to gather?”


You are asking a lot of your kitchen table or counter — host of mail, calendar, paperwork, office supplies, dining, and socializing! In a perfect world, the mail and papers go to the mail-sort center and then to the office. Reading and extended socializing would happen in the family room, leaving the table clear for dining.

If you can’t move those functions, here is how to organize the kitchen to serve some or all of those jobs.

How to Organize a Kitchen

Create Designated Kitchen Areas

If possible, assign two chairs to each family member. One chair is reserved for sitting, the other for their paperwork. By tucking the chairs under the table, the items on them will be hidden, making the room more restful. A square pencil cup for pens, Post-its, and scissors can live on the table with the salt/pepper. Move the fruit basket to a kitchen counter.

[Click to Read: 10 Ways to Simplify Any Kitchen]

Add More Kitchen Space – Creatively

If the table lacks adequate seating, search online for multi-pocket pouches that attach to the back of the chair next to you (not the back of your own chair), or hang down from your seat. Each family member’s papers/glasses can be deposited in the designated pouch.

Perhaps a bookcase within easy reach (no steps) of the table can be outfitted with a designated bin or basket. Family members can scoop up whatever of theirs is left on the table and deposit it on their designated chair, pouch, or basket when it is time for dining or socializing.

Don’t Forget Paperwork

Paperwork can become unruly very quickly without a proper system in place to manage it. It’s essential to clearly label what’s important (i.e. what can stay on the table), and what can be put to the side.

  • “To-do” papers: In the seat pockets, or a file holder that keeps papers upright, clearly label each document type (“life insurance project,” “bills to pay,” and “license renewal”) so the contents stay on your radar (and are kept clear of food spills and other kitchen mishaps).
  • Important but rarely used documents: Use a file drawer. When documents are on a single page — birth certificate or marriage license — put them together in a folder, and label it descriptively. Rather than call this folder “important Papers,” for example, opt for something like “passport, etc.”Large multi-page documents, such as “Mortgage” or “Divorce/Custody,” get their own files. Leave a note on the counter and make a simple masking tape label as a reminder of their new home.
  • Miscellaneous: Inspirational articles and Pinterest printouts are neither important, urgent, nor a to-do. They are in the to read/hobby/enjoy category, and they should have their own home — maybe in a separate seat pocket, or a basket near the kitchen?

How to Organize a Kitchen: Next Steps


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