With Some Basic Organizing Habits
It’s been awhile since I’ve written any new tips and tricks, I’m so glad you’re here! I recently concluded two classes for teens at my daughter’s school (PK-12) for the second year in a row, taught a short class for National Charity League, and my daughter became an official teenager last August. All of this, combined with a recent client with two teenage sons, led me to the desire to post on this topic.
I truly believe that kids of all ages thrive with direction and structure: I deeply want to set my daughter and other kids up for success in their daily lives with a few habits that can assist them in achieving this goal (with a little practice). Through my experience as a parent and having taught and listened to over 50 high school kids, I've surmised that they want to learn and have interest in organizing their belongings as well as their time! It’s our goal as parents to give them roots but let them soar as we prepare our teens for college and beyond. I believe that with a few helpful habits they can cultivate a life with less stress and have more time to do what they love. Here are a few tips that I have shared in my classes, with parents of teens, and my own teenage daughter:
Think macro then micro: have your teen take a look at the month ahead at the beginning of a new month - think games/practices, tests, birthday parties, etc. I then advise looking at the week each Sunday afternoon or evening, taking note of any upcoming school supplies, gifts, or special clothing items needed. As a parent, I know what it’s like for your teen to urgently need (insert item here) for a school assignment due TOMORROW! If they get into the habit of looking ahead, you can hopefully eliminate these scenarios.
Have your teen start their day off with success by how they end the night before: have your clothes/uniforms ready along with any special books or items needed before you go to bed. This helps to eliminate the last minute rush out the door and hopefully ensures that nothing is left to for the last minute or forgotten. I also advise tidying up (a little at least) before they leave the house and making their bed (if you haven’t seen it, watch Admiral McRaven’s University of Texas’ commencement speech on YouTube). I believe that your physical environment greatly affects your mental energy. Coming home after a long day to a tidy room can affect mood and potential study habits, it certainly can’t hurt!
Get them involved! Working with a client recently that had two teenage boys involved in multiple sports reinforced my belief that kids want and need to get involved in organizing solutions for their belongings. While the mom and I were talking, one of the boys was on the way out the door but I had the opportunity to ask him what he might prefer when setting up a system for his uniforms. I gratefully took what he had to say into the final outcome of our plan and it was a success!
Lead by example, at least as much as you can. I get it!!! Work, parenting, and life in general can be overwhelming at times but I find that when I have a basic framework of what my week will look like, I feel more calmness and confidence in general. Although I'm a professional organizer, running my small business and running a household takes a lot of forethought into the success of my week. If you’re up for it, take a look at my post on meal planning/grocery shopping, it helps!
Last but not least, celebrate their wins, no matter how small! Habits take time to “stick”, there are various and contradictory studies regarding how long it takes but none are conclusive so just stick with it! Praise them on a job well done, ask questions about what changes in their habits have helped and what hasn’t. Maybe they will come up with some solutions on their own! Getting them involved and having them take some ownership in the process boosts their enthusiasm and success in the long run. That's our goal, right?!?
This is by no means the entire content of my organizing class for teens but I’ve tried to break down what I feel is most helpful in a broad sense. I sincerely welcome your comments and questions below and I’d love to hear from you after a few weeks if you decide to get onboard with any of my tips. I’m always here for you and I’m rooting for your success!