This weekend, my 16-year old son and I organized his bedroom. This was actually more for me than for him. Okay, it was all for me, because the mess (clothes on floor, cluttered dresser and bookcase, unusable closet floor) didn’t bother him. Fortunately, I am blessed with a mellow and mostly compliant child.
Most of the time was spent on the bookcase and the closet- both rife with trinkets and toys from past and present. We sifted through a menagerie of dinosaur figures, fidget spinners, already-disassembled gadgets, Pokemon cards, birthday cards, pinewood derby cars, rusty tool sets, a cargo ratchet strap(!?), a digital camera, and 21 Nerf guns and their accouterments.
Many times, it’s the small items that can derail an organizing project. Decluttering, especially small possessions, can bring decision fatigue, and pretty soon all the items blend into a single, overwhelming mess. Without outside help, organizing a space, a room, a home, gets perpetually scheduled for “Someday”. Most of my clients call me because they are sick of waiting for “Someday”.
With ADHD and anxiety issues, my son can become overwhelmed and shut down within a matter of seconds. Using a soft tone of voice, gentle movements, broad Yes/No questions to create personalized criteria for decision making, and of course plenty of breaks, we completed this project in five hours.
I’m proud of my son for:
Pushing through. A few times I felt his annoyance mounting, but he managed his emotions and took breaks from both me and the stuff. This emotional growth will lead to consistency and perseverance.
Releasing things he’s outgrown. The Nerf guns in particular, have held his heart captive to the past, and rendered the floor of his closet entirely unusable. The ones he wants to keep (eight out of 21) are contained in a corner, leaving floor space for shoes, the hamper, and plenty of white space between. By releasing the confinements of the past, he is opening up space for clarity and opportunity.
Trusting me. He knows that I will not throw away anything without his permission. I make suggestions for containerizing (yes, it’s a real word), but don’t force them upon him. You don’t want those 10 hard drives contained in a box? Fine. You don’t want labels on those boxes of Cables, Keepsakes, or Keyboard Tools [because labels will make it so much easier to remember what’s in there months from now when you’re looking for cables, keepsakes, or keyboard tools and you’ll have to take off the lid of each of those boxes to see what’s inside]? (silent sigh) Okay . Trust goes both ways.
Will his bedroom remain organized? Well, he knows that if he puts things back to where they belong, then his room will remain tidy and organized. The real question is: Does he care enough about his personal space to do that? This remains to be seen. [“Leaning towards no,” he typed, as he proofread this article. My response was, “In time, you will.”] I’m meeting him where he’s at.
Right now, it is set up the way he wants. The items he uses frequently are placed within arm’s reach of his desk. He likes how his room looks and feels, and has elbow room to grow and refine his interests. For right now, he is exchanging crowded and confusing spaces for order and opportunities.
Yes, I want him to have an organized room. Why? Because it helps him to be proud of himself and his accomplishments, and to have the mental and emotional space to envision his future. Every person deserves that. In time, my son will appreciate that.
This story is published with my son’s permission. Visit the full Before/After album on FaceBook here.
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