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August Organizing Tips


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Setting the Stage for Back To School Time

August is a great time to begin thinking about Back To School time so you're ready to hit the ground running when the time comes! Although I initially wrote this for parents of kids with ADHD, a lot of the suggestions are applicable across the board. 

 

As a parent, we sometimes come up with one system that we apply for everyone in the house.  However, we know that each of our children have very different personalities and learning styles, so any new systems you decide should be individualized to each child.   As a result, meet with each child separately to have them offer their own suggestions on how to make the morning routine run more smoothly rather than having them sit down together to come up with a joint plan.  Involving your child in the process will hopefully make them more motivated to follow through as well.

 

As you're coming up with an individualized plan for your child, keep in mind their natural body clocks and how that might come in to play.  Many kids with ADHD may have a hard time winding down at night to sleep, and consequently struggle to get up in the morning.  Or they may be so exhausted from their day that they fall right to sleep, and are up at the crack of dawn.  Either way, you might want to consider postponing some of the morning routine items until another time of day instead.  For instance, if they have lots of energy at night, have them pack their backpacks for the next day and set them by the door before they go to bed, instead of right before they leave in the morning.  Or wait and have them make their bed until after they've gotten home from school, but before any free time begins.  That way, the tasks get completed when it works the best for them, rather than what may make the most sense to us. 

 

Consider changing some of your morning routine tasks to alternative options.  An example would be that instead of requiring them to put away their dishes after breakfast when they're already running behind, ask them if they would rather be in charge of setting out the breakfast items after dinner has been finished the night before.  Then they're not "getting out of anything", but are just doing something else instead. 

 

Kids with ADHD often need extra visual reminders of what they need to do.  Think about posting reminder notes in various spaces of the house that guide them from one activity to the next, almost like a scavenger hunt.  After they've gotten dressed, post a "clue" that directs them to the bathroom to brush their teeth, then have another "clue" on the bathroom mirror that directs them down to breakfast.  Then put a note on the dishwasher after they've loaded the dirty items that reminds them to pack up their backpack, etc.   If most of their tasks take place upstairs, another option is to hang a whiteboard on their bedroom door with all their morning tasks in one place.  It takes the remembering out of the process for them, and takes the nagging out of the process for you. 

 

Watch out for distractions in their bedroom, particularly for ADHD kids.  If they have a TV or a bookcase of games in their room, that may easily be the first thing that catches their eye when they open them in the morning, and get them off track from the start.  Even a book that they're engrossed in may become a morning distraction. Take a look at the items in their room and consider relocating items that seem to waylay them on a regular basis. 

 

Just getting dressed in the morning can be a source of frustration for parents and kids alike.  I would suggest getting a couple 3M command hooks that can hang on the outside of their closet door or on the wall in their room.  If they have lots of energy before bedtime, have them spend a few minutes picking out their outfit for the next day and hang it on their hooks, so there is no decision-making in the morning.  If they are usually exhausted at night, spend some time on Sunday evening picking out the outfits for the week and hang them as pairs on hangars in the closet.  Then each night you can just pick out one of the hangars, and again hang it on the hook for the next morning so they don't even need to open their closet. 

 

If they're running behind, try to speed them up by using a timer or stopwatch to create a game.  Tell them you'll time them to see how fast they can make their bed, or get their backpack ready to go, and offer a small incentive for meeting the goal, like an extra snack after school or an extra ten minutes on the computer. 

 

On the flip side, if your kids respond more to consequences than rewards, make sure you choose a consequence that will be carried out that same day.  Their attention spans are short, so the impact of cutting down their weekly allowance on Friday won't make sense for being late getting ready to school on Monday. 

 

I'm sure everyone's heard it before, but make sure their "out-the-door" items are visible and accessible.  You may not like looking at hooks for backpacks on your kitchen wall, but if it makes your morning routine run more smoothly, your sanity is well worth the aesthetic sacrifice. 

 

And finally, if you as a parent are not struggling with ADHD, remember to be patient and remind yourself that they're dealing with a lot of competing thoughts and distractions!

Let me know if you’d like help getting the house ready for Back To School time!