Closed September 2017

Clutter Video Tip: How to Deal with Disorganized Family Members, Part 2 (Kids!)

Helping your Little Bo Peep find her sheep can be frustrating. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get your Little Boy Blue to finally blow his horn without nagging him. Making your son or daughter pick up toys can be as hard as putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Watch this video to help your kids be more organized and make your home feel more like the house that Jack built. You may even feel satisfied enough to jump over the moon (or run away with a spoon).

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Hi. I’m Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet book and on-line program, and today we have Part 2 of our little series on fixing the family members in your life who are not so organized. Part 1 was about the adults in your life, usually meaning a spouse or a partner, and Part 2 is about kids and teens.

So, we want to think about the organizing systems that you’re creating in the house being as simple as possible to give your kids and teens the best chance for success. So, a great example is hanging up their coats. So it’s a system, they’re supposed to come in the door, there’s the coat closet, they’re supposed to hang up their coat right there. They’re probably not going to take a hanger down, use two hands to put the coat on it and put it back up. They are much more likely to be successful if you have a hook at eye level where they can use one hand and just put in on the hook. Otherwise, they’re much more likely to probably just leave this coat on the floor or over a chair.

So think about all your systems that way. “How can I work with their habits and their inclinations to make systems that are simpler for them?” There are so many reasons why kids and teens are really not ever going to probably be as much focused on organizing as you are. And one is that they don’t give it importance. So, people focus and give attention to things that are important to them. For your kids, it’s their friends, it’s their video games, it’s their books, it’s their school activities. Those things are important, they take better care of those things, they give their attention to those things, they don’t really care about hanging up their coats, as much as it is important to you. Now, the key as a parent is how do you take something not important to them and make it important to them? Usually that’s going to be some kind of a consequence or a reward.

So think about how to do that and make it important to them. My friend, Amy McCready, is a parenting expert on the Today Show. She has a lot of great ways to use consequences, rewards, and other motivational tools to help your parenting skills. So I highly recommend looking at that.

Second, kids don’t have ownership. No matter what you do, this is still your house. “It’s Mom’s house. It’s Dad’s house.” It’s not their house. So I remember being a teen, I did not take as good of care of my room at home as I did when I had a dorm room, or my own apartment, or eventually my own house. So, the reason was, it was Mom’s house. It wasn’t a reflection on me necessarily. So until they get to that point in their lives they’re never going to attach as much importance to it as you do. So, I think this is just important to keep as our own perspective and setting our own expectations of what they’re capable of in their own minds. Also, they don’t have the same perspective as we do. We pay the light bill, so we know if you leave the lights on it’s going to cost more money. We know that if you leave a plate of food out, it’s probably going to attract pests. And we understand what kind of unpleasantness that means for an infestation and calling the exterminator. They don’t know that. They don’t have the life experience to have the perspective that we have. So, again, setting our own expectations as to what they are capable of understanding and doing at their particular ages. So, we can try to teach them that stuff and try to assign that importance to those things and do the best we can.

So here are a couple of questions to ask yourself. Are you being congruent with what you’re asking them to do? Are you hanging your coat up? Is your room clean? Do you keep the counters clear? Make sure that you’re walking the talk and that you’re doing what you ask them to do. Also, are you being consistent? My friend Amy McCready is going to tell you that all day long. She will be consistent in telling you that you have to keep the same rules in place every day so kids learn what to expect and learn how to behave. So if you do assign a consequence to something, follow through with that consequence, mean what you say.

And we want to just set our expectations in general about being realistic. So, again, no matter what we do, we teach the kids the best we can, and they will take a lot of it in, but it may not show up until years later when they have their own homes. We just have faith that we’re teaching them the right things and those skills will show up at the right time. And you know what, my kids in college are showing me that right now and it’s very satisfying. So, just trust your parenting and keep going.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. We have the “Ask Lorie” feature now on our You Tube channel where you can ask your questions here in the comments, or on our Facebook page, or any way you want to send us a question. We’re happy to take those questions and answer as many as possible. These two parts of this series were inspired by two people writing in these questions about their daughter and their spouse. So send yours in, we’d love to talk to you here on our channel. And you can find out more about our program and everything we have to offer at

See you next time, and may you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.

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