Ask the Experts

Q: How Can I Tackle ‘The Great Bedroom Clean-Up’ with My Teen?

Bedrooms need creative organization tricks and frequent purging, especially if your child has ADHD. Use these strategies to find an organizing system that works for your child.

Q: “Since we are home all the time, my daughter’s bedroom is a mess and, if I’m really honest, it’s not all her fault. There’s just so much stuff in there and it’s not working for her… or me! I don’t know where to start. She has ADHD, so I want to make it easy for her to find things and to put things away.” – GeorgiaADHDMom


Hi GeorgiaADHDMom:

I’m so proud of YOU! The constant parent-child struggle over bedrooms isn’t necessarily always the kid’s fault (despite what parents may think). So I truly appreciate that you recognize that.

When a parent asks me how to get their kids to organize and maintain their bedrooms, I always lob this question right back at them: Is your child’s bedroom set up to make it easy for them to create and maintain an organizing system?

[Click to Read: My Son’s Messy Bedroom Overwhelms Both of Us]

And if they can’t answer that? It’s time to go on a tour of your child’s bedroom using these questions as your guide:

  • Can your child open their closet door easily? Or is it partially blocked? Would taking the door off the closet make the closet more accessible?
  • Is the clothing rod at an accessible level? Are there shelves? Can she easily reach them?
  • Are you storing out-of-season clothing and items seldom used up high? Are the things she needs to access frequently or daily in her “prime real estate” between her neck and knees?
  • Are the dresser drawers hard to open? Are they crammed full? Would it be easier for your daughter if the dresser were replaced with clear, properly labeled boxes in a shelving unit?
  • Does she have enough room to store all her clothes?
  • Does she have enough hangers? Are they all the same? Pro Tip: Use the slim velvet ones to give her more hanging space.
  • Does she have plenty of hooks hung inside the closet, on the closet door (both inside and out), behind her bedroom door and anywhere else she needs them to simplify organizing.
  • Are you using storage bins and boxes that are clear AND clearly labeled so she knows exactly where things are supposed to live?
  • Is there adequate shelf space for books, memorabilia, electronics, and so on? Virtual space is critical for helping kids stay organized. Having their belongs in their eyeline helps to maintain systems.
  • Have you hung a bulletin board? Cork squares? Pegboard? Anything where she can get mementos, papers, or photos off the surfaces and onto the walls!
  • Are the trash bin and laundry basket large enough? These items are essential when it’s time to clean up or organize.
  • Does your daughter’s nightstand have room for an alarm clock, lamp, charging station and even a water bottle?
  • Are there clothes or other items that don’t belong to her that are being stored in her room that can be moved elsewhere in the home?

And I saved the best for last… Does she know where everything in her room goes? The first rule of thumb when organizing is that everything needs a home. It’s that simple. No matter what, if you don’t know where something lives, it’s going to live wherever you leave it!

I hope you will check out my newest book, How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide To Getting Stuff Done (#CommissionsEarned), where I offer more organizing strategies for bedrooms and beyond!

Teen Bedroom Advice: 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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1 Comments & Reviews

  1. My ADHD/kid cleaning hacks:

    For daily maintenance:
    -The perfect is the enemy of the good. They’re going to be just dropping laundry where they stand when they change; the goal is to put laundry baskets where they normally drop laundry (maybe SLIGHTLY off to the side) so they can just as easily drop it into the basket.

    -Similar for any other area of the house; if you can get the hook RIGHT NEXT to the door, a shoe bin instead of a shoe rack, a cubby or large basket for their school bag right next to where they normally drop it, you have a greater chance of it being used. The key there is to clean it out regularly (see the top one and below).

    For weekly cleaning time:

    -Making a weekly time to “Clean Out” one section of the room/house and get rid of stuff that doesn’t bring joy anymore (or just isn’t seasonal) in that section (it’s motivating for ADHD people to clean out instead of just normal putting things away- I think I read somewhere that purging releases some fun endorphins that keep us motivated). Areas probably include: Clothes- socks etc, Clothes- Pants/shirts, Clothes- Outerwear, Desk/schoolwork area, Games/Toys/Videogames, Nightstand/Bed table. So, every 6 weeks, you rotate around to one of those things and there will be plenty to purge/put in place!

    -Work alongside them; if you want them to clean, clean with them. You don’t have to do much (you could probably eventually be cleaning your own stuff in a different room, or just clean with them for the first couple of minutes only), but just having someone there creates the accountability they’ll need to get started, and check-ins to make sure it keeps going without distraction.

    -Pair it with something more “fun”- energetic music, a favorite podcast, maaaaaaybe some favorite youtube videos (depending on how stationary/thought-free the task is)

    -As a teacher: Backpacks need to be gone through every week. their grades will thank you. Also: if you can choose organization methods, pocket folders are the answer. Just make sure you’re going through the folders in that weekly clean-out (and get that on their 504 plan if you have one so teachers can help with that organization from their end, too! In fact, you can have “using folders” on the 504 plan so they’re allowed to do folders even if the school requires binders normally!)

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