Tracey Silliker of Calm the Chaos Organizing reached out to us, hoping to share some of her favorite tips for organizing for teens. We are happy to have her guest post for us. Here’s what she had to say!
The teen years can be stressful for everyone involved, from the parents to the teens themselves. The once cute kid that helped clean up their toys is now an almost-adult — with raging hormones and strong opinions of their own. Sometimes overwhelmed parents turn to a professional organizer for help. If you find yourself in this situation and haven’t worked with teens before, don’t stress. Organizing for teens can be quite rewarding — especially if you implement these tips!
Why Teens Need Organizing Help
Getting organized is no small feat. If you’re a professional organizer, you know grown adults need help — so it makes sense that young adults wouldn’t have organizing mastered yet, either.
Teens are special cases. Often, their rooms are their domains and they take them seriously. They’re still learning who they are and how to manage their possessions and what their possessions even mean to them. They likely have bits of their childhood that they’re not ready to leave behind. Add in parents who think they know best and a teen who can’t admit that those parents *might* be right and it’s a perfect storm of clutter and chaos.
If you have a client who tells this story, know that most times, the teen is just as overwhelmed and is looking forward to the help. In other cases, the teen doesn’t want the help. In the latter of these 2 scenarios, I suggest having the parents discuss with the teen and get them on board before you help organize their space.
6 Tips for Organizing for Teens
1. Get Consent.
Before you even attempt to tame the teen’s room, make sure the teen is on board for getting organized. Consent is essential for a respect. Even if the teen is reluctant, use logic to appeal to them. What does their ideal bedroom look like? Wouldn’t they enjoy being in a clean space? How good would it feel to find their favorite things?
2. Have the Teen Present.
Teens are often very attached to their rooms. This is their personal space and the only space they can call theirs in the home. You having them help in the process will aid with the decluttering and will teach them the valuable steps to maintain the space afterwards.
Besides making sure the teen is on board and present for organizing, you also want to get consent OFTEN before touching their belongings during the session.
Simple Consent Statements Organizing with Teens:
- Is it okay if I open this drawer?
- Next, we’ll clear out under your bed, okay?
- Are you ready to move on to the closet?
- I notice that this shelf looks a little cluttered. Should we fix it?
3. Have Them Purge Clothing First
If clothing is an issue for the teen (as in, they have too much) have them do a good purge before you come. You can send a list of questions to ask themselves or guidelines to use as they go.
Doing a clothing purge before your session will keep the session shorter, plus it will eliminate the items they’re not sure about and help you (them) avoid an awkward fashion show.
Knowing what clothing you have to fit back into the space can help you plan accordingly. Have your teenage client send you a photo or two after their purge, so you can attack the space with a plan.
4. Make a Box of Sentimentals
Toys! If teens have toys in their room, odds are they no longer play with, have a tote handy. Organizing for teens often involves walking a fine line between childhood and adulthood. Store sentimental items in the bin and donate the rest.
You may find the parent is more attached to the toys than the teen. The tote is perfect for the parents, too, because it provides a limit. Once it’s full, it’s full.
Suggest donating the rest of the toys to a family friend, a local preschool, a family in need, or a donation center. This often makes letting go easier if they know a child will get to enjoy the toys.
5. Organize According to Their Preferences
Determine how the teen they like to store things. For example, do they like to hang up their clothes? Do they prefer them folded? Do they like just throwing items on a shelf? You will probably not change their habits now (maybe later, probably not now), so work with them.
Whichever they are, customize your plan around them. This will help them maintain the space for the long haul. If it’s in the budget, it may be worth looking into storage solutions that fit with how the teen will maintain the space.
6. Let “Better” be Good Enough when Organizing for Teens
Remember, this is their space! This is the one space they have control over. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect; it needs to be functional, and it needs to be something they can maintain.
When you’re organizing for a teen, listen to their ideas and suggestions. This won’t look like mom and dad’s room and that is ok.
7. Talk about Maintenance
When you’re finished organizing for teens, be sure to suggest some ideas for maintaining their space. Walk them through what you did and give them some tips for how they can keep their space clean. Suggestions such as like a daily reset or a weekly clean can be very effective — and quite manageable. Emphasize that maintaining their space will provide them with a space they can relax in and enjoy with their friends — which is so much better than being overwhelmed or embarrassed.
Bonus Tip for Organizing For Teens
Tough Love for Parents
When working with teens, it is important to note that they learn by example, as most children do. If you notice that the parents’ bedroom is in constant chaos, those parents will have a hard time getting their teen to maintain their room.
Without overstepping, it may be a good idea to chat with the parents about their own bedroom space. Suggest that they set up systems and learning to maintain it, if they expect their teen to do the same.
This may be a delicate subject, however if the parents are contacting you for help, they might be ready to hear it.
Organizing for Teens
Organizing for teens can be a challenge, but as long as you remember who the space is for and respect them, you can make a big difference in the space — and their lives. Be sure to make the space about them, what they want, and how need to maintain it.
Do you often work with teens? We’d love your feedback! What would you add to this list? Drop a message below and let us know!
About the Author: Tracey Silliker
Tracey Silliker is a professional organizer, wife, and mom of two (teenage) boys. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her family and runs her organizing business, Calm the Chaos Organizing between baseball games and practices. Tracey also co-manages FirstArise, a program that helps Christian moms get started in business. A genuine believer in #communityovercompetition, Tracey works relentlessly to support other small businesses.