Any parent would agree that we want our teens and college students to succeed in the real world and be functional, responsible adults one day on their own. Systems and habits start at home and equipping them with some basic organizing strategies will go a long way.
- Teach your teens not only how to do laundry but how to schedule it into their week. Your kids might be great at doing laundry but do they have the time management skills to fit it into their busy week with school activities and hanging out with friends? Sometimes teens and college students think they need two free hours to get one load washed and dried. That’s not realistic and most adults never approach laundry like that. Show them how to start the load while knowing they will be around again in 2-4 hours to switch it over to the dryer. Consider setting their phone alarm so that the wet laundry doesn’t sit for days inside the washing machine. Another approach would be to pick a day of the week that they want to commit to, to get a couple of loads done. Come up with a schedule that works for them and give it a try!
- Forget trying to hang up their clothes every day. It just doesn’t matter to them and by all means, don’t do it for them. They have to take ownership and responsibility for their property. Instead, I suggest lots of hooks, knobs, drawers, and perhaps a chair in the corner to catch clothes they’ve worn that aren’t dirty just yet. Very few teens and college students want everything hung up perfectly, neat, and unwrinkled. If you have a student who likes things organized you are blessed! If you need to enforce a clean room, carve out a time of the week that they will commit to picking up their room.
- A functional desk or bookshelf for their school supplies is a must. A desk with no drawers just isn’t helpful so make sure you consider what type of desk you’d want to invest in. Books and school supplies need a place to be stashed instead of landing on the floor and dresser tops. Bookcases are inexpensive and a simple solution. Encourage them to clean out their paperwork after a semester or two have passed. That will ensure space for next semester’s books and paperwork.
- Every student should have a memory box or keepsake drawer. Memorabilia is inevitable. Concert tickets, love notes, autographed books, photos of friends and greeting cards, etc will accumulate so designate a place for safekeeping or a bulletin board to display their favorites. A simple medium plastic bin will do. Keep up this practice even at college. Declutter the dorm room and stash or take some memorabilia home after each year.
- If you have girls, get the makeup, hair stuff, and nail polish under control. Label bins or containers to store those things. You can never go wrong with makeup stadium organizers to help keep their brushes, lipstick, and eye makeup upright and organized. A simple set of hooks does wonders for their necklaces, scarves, and purses. Over the door shoe organizers are also useful for organizing hair stuff. If you have boys, video games, cords, electronics, and sometimes still even Legos are prevalent. Designate certain bins and containers for all of them and don’t forget to display their sports accomplishments or memorabilia. They have special keepsakes too.
- Designate a spot for their mail. Whether they’re test scores, college applications, credit card applications, or bank statements, it’s at these ages mail starts to flood in. Of course, we would encourage them to go paperless and start organizing their passwords and usernames at this age so consider that option as well. If snail mail is piling up consider these steps below.
- Give each teen or adult child an inbox for paper and mail. You and they are allowed to “dump” paper there. Of course label it.
- Set an expectation of when and how often they will tackle their inbox. Some students may rifle through it every day. Others might choose once a week.
- Pick a deadline if they don’t regularly look at their inbox. So for example, if a month passes, you as a parent have the right to go in and pitch some for the next month to start over.