Start with what is near and dear to their hearts. Whether they love CDs, photos or magazines, bringing a sense of order to a collection they are passionate about is a great way to build their confidence and inspire them to continue organizing.
Respect to your teen’s preferred way of grouping things. Organizing their things your way may not make sense to them and if the system doesn’t work for them, it won’t be maintained for very long. Let them make their own choices during the purge. Although you can ask questions to help them determine what they value most, they should have the final say on what to keep or toss.
Make organizing easier for your teen by keeping them company. You can lend a hand by gathering supplies, labeling containers, and bagging the trash. During this process, avoid disparaging comments like “This room is a disaster!” or “You have so much junk!” Instead, take on the role of cheerleader by acknowledging small successes along the way and pointing out areas where they are organized.
- HOUSE IT
Teenagers have a lot of stuff. Rather than nagging them to get rid of things, create homes for their treasures. Use bookcases, shelves or wall units to get things off the floor and utilize the vertical space that would otherwise be wasted.
- CONTAIN IT
Use wicker baskets or decorative photo boxes to contain small items. Store like with like and label the containers. Use twine to attach manila shipping labels to baskets. Not only does this create a neater look, it also makes dusting easier.
- FILE IT
Use a banker’s box or a clear file tote that can accommodate hanging files and use clear plastic tabs to label one file for each school year. When they bring home their completed assignments, report cards or certificates, they can file them under the corresponding year. Encourage them to weed through the file at the end of the year and keep only what matters most.
- ZONE IT
Ask your teen to make a list of all the activities that take place in his or her room. Together, create an area for each of these activities, placing all the supplies needed for that activity close at hand. Some common teen zones include: music zone, reading zone, homework zone, grooming zone, dressing zone. When the CDs and the headphones are located beside the CD player, it makes finding and putting the CDs away easier and more likely to happen.
- POST IT
A bulletin board is a must-have for most teens, although it can become an eyesore if it’s not weeded out regularly. Encourage them to use it as a place to post friends’ phone numbers and a monthly calendar where they can keep track of important events. If they like to display special photos of themselves and their friends, choose a magnetic board rather than a cork one.
- HOOK IT
If clean clothes never seem to make it into the closet, consider hanging hooks over or behind the door. A clothing tree, funky wall hooks or an attractive coat rack work equally well at keeping clothes off the floor.
- LET IT GO
If all else fails, tell yourself that it’s only a phase and close the door!