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Organizing Your Tweens and Teens

Having a tween or teenager can be very stressful on many levels. This is especially the case when trying to keep them (and you) organized at home. What was once toys taking over all the space is now electronics and sporting equipment. What can you do to keep your house under control while raising tweens and teens?

Strategies to Use With Your Teen

I asked my sister, mother of two teens, for advice. She had two valuable insights:  

  1.  Have open communication with your child about their clutter.
  2.  Have a home for everything and minimize whenever you get the opportunity.

Open Communication

My son, now almost a teenager, is used to the regular decluttering sessions we do in his room, which includes the open communication of what works and what doesn’t. One struggle we deal relates to the laundry. He forgets to put away the clean clothes in the wash basket and then dirty clothes get thrown on top, making extra work for us.  Many times, this results in him having no clean clothes to wear to school. 

I don’t want to be overly involved in putting his clothes away, so I’ve learned to not worry about how he puts the clean clothes in his drawers. If he can’t find something, it’s on him. He is now realizing it’s better to roll the clothes so they fit better in the drawers. Finally, if he doesn’t put the clothes away when I ask him, then he loses his phone.  

Speaking of losing his phone, this consequence also occurs for other organizing matters. You would think that the home for his school bag and sporting equipment is right by the front door—but there is actually a place where he is supposed to put it. Instead, he comes home and just drops everything in front of the door. We’ve told him that we’ll only remind him once about putting them in the proper place. If he doesn’t do it, he loses his phone. This has worked for us most of the time, and he now has started to put these things in their proper place.

Proper storage solutionsIt sounds crazy, but more storage is key! You would think little kids need more storage and less when they get older, but that’s not the case. Older kids have books, slime, arts and crafts, electronics, make-up, hair products, and tons of clothes, shoes, hats, and purses that all need homes.

Think through what your tween or teen needs to keep their stuff organized and come up with systems that can keep your home tidy and clutter-free.

Why Is This Important?

Organizing is important to teach teens:

  • Life skills
  • A sense of respect to personal property
  • Personal hygiene

10 Tips for Keeping Your Teen or Tween Organized

  1. Talk to your tweens and teenagers and LISTEN to what they want and what doesn’t work for them.
  2. Respect their things. Even if you don’t think it’s necessary to keep some things, they might have a different reason for keeping them. If they have a space for it, let it be.
  3. Have a declutter session with your teen. Have them go through their things with you and throw away anything they say they no longer need or want.  Don’t give them the opportunity to change their mind. Have the trash bag handy, and as soon as you are finished, put the trash outside in trash cans. Put any clothes that they outgrew or that are no longer in style in a trash bag for donations. If there are any memories that they want to keep put them in a separate bin and properly mark them as memories.
  4. Think vertical storage. This idea can free up space in a teen’s bedroom.
  5. Use bins when possible. Bins can keep memories safe and can keep out-of-season clothes clean and neat.‚Äč
  6. Label everything that you can.
  7. Utilize a wall calendar to keep your teen’s schedule and due dates. Create reminder alerts in their cell phone calendar. Teach them to be prepared for the day. Create habits of packing school bags the night before. Have a designated place to do homework, where all the supplies are handy. Consider a floating desk in their bedroom.
  8. Set boundaries for technology and have them turn it off when it will be distracting.
  9. Set a good example with your own organizing skills and technology use.
  10. Have a no food or drink rule in bedrooms to avoid unwanted messes. 

What Not to Do With Your Teen or Tween

Make getting organized and staying on top of things a positive experience. Here are five things to avoid when working with your teen. 

  1. Don’t threaten to clean while they are not there.  You want them to do it, plus you are building trust issues, so don’t make empty threats.
  2. Don’t make them do anything you don’t do yourself. Lead by example.    
  3. Don’t expect perfection.
  4. Don’t remove the door—it creates trust issues.
  5. Don’t use bribery.

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