Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kids, it's time to clean your rooms!

Do you know what I enjoy less than cleaning my room?

Cleaning my kids' rooms.

Fortunately, my kids are old enough to do a lot of the work themselves. Ah, but do they? Well, a little, yes. Over the years, I have asked the kids to take responsibility for their belongings and the messes they make with said belongings. This usually works about 0% of the time.

Guess what HAS worked: Bribery!

I'm not advocating senseless consumerism, mind you. When it comes to cleaning and organizing my kids' bedrooms, I offer them a change in landscape, a shift in setting, a new pad. The room of their dreams. We make lists of all of the changes they would like to make to their rooms, prioritizing the top 3-5 changes.

Then the shiz gets real: we talk about money.

My kids know that their parents are not billionaires and cannot install digital libraries and sound systems, cannot hire architects to build swimming pools and secret rooms within their rooms or under their beds, cannot buy vintage egg chairs (although that would be cool). The priority list must take into consideration how much items cost (including paint) and how time-intensive the change will be.

A wardrobe through which you can actually walk into Narnia? Yes, please!

So far, this bribery has worked.

Last summer, I painted my daughter's room navy blue. Yes, I know. Navy. It looks surprising good! We received a set of shelves from a neighbor, so the paint and the shelves happened first -- cheap, quick changes that made a huge impact. Next, we found a comforter that looked more grown-up than her pastel patchwork quilt. Lastly, we added an IKEA desk (no recalls on that baby . . . yet) and some curtains from Urban Outsiders. A year later, we haven't quite finished, because rugs are expensive and we need to find time for my husband to hammer and screw things into the walls. I'm not being sexist about the delineation of responsibilities (I purchase, he hammers). I know my limits and this lady cannot hold a hammer without destroying the plaster. Walls tremble at my approach.

I will say, however, that this lag in movement has led to some sloppy habits on my daughter's part. She hasn't taken pride in the finished product yet, so she leaves every string bag and duffle from weekend trips and overnights on the floor and the new desk is covered in clothes, art utensils, stuff.

To remedy this remaining clutter, we are offering to switch her bed to a bigger bed -- one we've had in storage. She's excited about this, about finally getting the rug, the pictures on the walls, the stuffed animals storage netting, and has asked me to help her go through her belongings.

Similarly, we bought my son a bunk bed from friends last year, but were not ready to install it. He needed to gain more independence sleeping in his own bed and not crawling into ours at 2:00 a.m. A year later, we're ready! I met with him last week in his room and took notes. We decided on a couple paint options, furniture moves, stuffed animal solutions, what he's keeping and we boxed up items to give away. He instigated! I'm thrilled to say his floor is clean and so is his closet and bedside table. We have minimal items to purchase or restore. We have a plan. And he's excited to get started.

So, I have some questions for you:

  1. How do you motivate your kids to clean their room?
  2. How do you motivate them to keep it clean?
  3. How do you decide whether to keep, store, donate, or recycle items?

Check out this simple graphic from MakeSpace when you find yourself holding items and breaking into a sweat. I used a similar system when I culled clothing from my closet, kitchen pantry, the kids' school work. And once you're done, it's like a butterfly of freedom has flown from your body!


Friday, February 12, 2016

Sequencing for the ADHD Parent and Child

source: wikihow.com
My children's behavior often causes me to reflect upon my own. For instance, my daughter is smart, funny, and highly motivated towards academic success. At her age -- tween -- I, too, was smart, sarcastic, and determined to earn all As in school. Whenever we drive together, she sits quietly in the backseat daydreaming out the window. That was me in 6th-12th grade as well. My son, who I usually compare to my husband, both in looks and behavior, is the complete -- and I do mean complete -- opposite of both my daughter and me. He chats incessantly, makes constant and persistent jokes of the look-at-me variety. He is rarely quiet, rarely still, and doesn't daydream. And while he is definitely smart, and he cares about his grades and classroom success, motivating him to do, well, anything, is a challenge.

I'm in no way suggesting that my son, who is 9, is lazy. But he is disorganized and not terribly concerned about it. I, too, am disorganized, but . . . I care a lot about it. In fact, I care so much about my disorganization that I overcompensate and get micro-managey towards my family, friends, and peers. It's not that I think everyone around me is incompetent; it's that I know I can be incompetent and I have to reiterate the sequencing of priorities, post my To-Do list on the kitchen counter, and tell everyone around me not to disturb the mess on my desk because my sense of order is so delicate that a misplaced paper could upset the entire system.

But, back to my son. I realize that the kid probably has ADHD. He's doomed with two ADHD parents and he has exhibited ADHD behavior (albeit, mild in comparison to some of the kids in his school) since he was in preschool. I'm just more aware of it because I'm correcting his homework, having to stay on top of him to practice for his drum lessons, and just getting dressed in the morning is a chore.

Let's look at that last bit, the getting dressed in the morning. I'll admit it, sometimes I go over my mental list of what I need to do to get ready in the morning to make sure that yes, I put on my deodorant. My son can get dressed on his own without problem when he's motivated (i.e. I reward him with a show or time on his iPod or LEGOs, when time permits), but more mornings than others I find him lost in the process, half dressed sitting on the heating vent complaining that we're going to be late. Another processing -- or sequencing, if you like -- trait that I've noticed he does is verbally acknowledge his to-do list. Almost every morning he comes upstairs while I'm getting ready and announces what he has to do:

Him: "Okay, so I am going to get dressed, brush my teeth, go to the bathroom, and get my shoes on."

Me: "Right. Don't forget we have to brush your hair, too."

This happens, like I said, almost every morning. It's as if he doesn't say the list out loud, he's going to forget to put on his shoes, or go to the bathroom. But I know he needs to do this to keep his brain in order. I see nothing at all wrong with this habit. It helps him and he figured that out instinctively.

As I was getting out of my car after dropping my son off at school this morning, I noticed that while I wasn't verbalizing my to-do list, I was mentally figuring out the sequence for getting out of the car:

Me: "Okay, so I need to pick up my purse, but I also have a cup of coffee and a box of papers and only two hands. Better get out of the car first and walk around to the passenger side to get everything so I don't spill the coffee and dump the papers on the ground."

Maybe we aren't such a mess, my son and I. Maybe he is a lot like me and I like him. Maybe we need a little prompting to put on our pants in the morning, but we get it done . . . usually without spilling our drinks.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Organization Tips for People with ADHD

Image via Pixabay by condesign

Hello friends! Belated New Year's greetings.

To say I've been a bit distracted, a bit way-laid, would be an understatement. But, it's a new year, and I hope to be more present, both in my daily and my virtual life.

Over the holidays, I was contacted by Vee Cecil, a fellow Kentuckian and personal coach who writes a wellness blog called My New Well, She has written my featured guest post this week about women and girls with ADD/ADHD and has offered some sound tips on organization. I know that I personally use her tip on cleaning -- listen to podcasts to pass the time -- and it helps considerably.

Please enjoy Vee's post and leave comments for her.

If you would be interested in writing a guest post, please send me an email.

ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that affects both children and adults, though symptoms often first begin during childhood, especially for boys. Symptoms of ADHD commonly include inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. For adults, ADHD makes it difficult to manage time, set goals, keep a job, maintain relationships, and be organized. 

Disorganization is Especially Problematic for Girls and Women with ADHD

Maria Yagoda is a writer for The Wire, The New York Times, and Al Jazeera America. She also has ADHD.  In her article on the ways in which ADHD is different for women, Yagoda explains that women develop ADHD symptoms later in life and have symptoms such as disorganization and forgetfulness that are different than those experienced by men. As she puts it, “ADHD does not look the same in boys and girls. Women with the disorder tend to be less hyperactive and impulsive, more disorganized, scattered, forgetful, and introverted.” 

In fact, many ADHD symptoms may not be present in girls until college, when the organized home life structure disappears and estrogen levels increase. Sari Solden, therapist and author of Women with Attention Deficit Disorder explains, “girls see their trouble prioritizing, organizing, coordinating, and paying attention as character flaws. No one told them it’s neurobiological.” 

Yagoda echoes those sentiments: “I considered these traits – my messiness, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, important document-losing – to be embarrassing personal failings… I maintained a room so cluttered that fire inspectors not only threatened to fine me $200 if I didn’t clean, they insisted it was the messiest room they had ever seen (boys’ included!) in their 20 years of service.” She has found that ADHD medication and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have helped her to become more functional.

Organization Tips

Yagoda’s story may resonate with those who have ADHD or those who have yet to be diagnosed but who have extreme difficulty being organized and prioritizing. There are a few things you can do to get organized if you have ADHD. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make brief to-do lists: Avoid feeling overwhelmed by the need to be organized by making lists of no more than five organization tasks on an index card. This tip also will help you better manage your time because you will only be doing a small number of tasks at a time. Work through the card and discard it when you’re finished so you feel a sense of accomplishment.

  • Begin by taking small steps: For people with ADHD, it’s best to start small when attempting to get organized. Set a small organization goal to achieve daily. Maybe it’s to put your toothbrush and toothpaste away after you use it. Maybe it’s to line up all of your shoes. Maybe it’s to put your towel back on the rack instead of leaving it on your floor. Make a conscious choice to make your small organization step a daily habit and then start increasing the number of steps you’re taking when you’re ready. 

There’s no shame in starting small and taking your time. In fact, this guide for helping children with ADHD get organized suggests a 30-day plan, in which you tackle one area of your home at time, may be the best way to go about organizing your living space.

  • Bank online: Forgetting to pay bills or deposit checks can wreak havoc on the financial status of a person with ADHD. One of the best ways to get organized and have less clutter on your desk is to make use of online banking. Stop paper statements so you have less paperwork. Use direct deposit and automatic payments. You may even want to choose a software solution or app to help you manage your finances or invest in a receipt or document scanner so you don’t have to deal with paper receipts.

  • Use motivational strategies while organizing: Sometimes people with ADHD find it easier to get organized if they use timers or music while they are physically organizing their space. You may set the timer for shorter times at the beginning and then add minutes as you progress. Or, you may choose to organize until a certain number of songs have played. 

It also may benefit people with ADHD to commit to organization by using positive reinforcement or rewards. Maybe you’ll make a date with friends or indulge in a sweet treat after meeting your personal organization goals for a week. Each person’s motivational strategies are different, so choose what you know best will inspire you to get organized.

Getting organized is not something that people with ADHD can achieve overnight. But, it is something that you will be able to do if you take small steps and make a commitment to getting and remaining organized. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and find yourself spending less time looking for things, feeling less overwhelmed, and being more productive.

Vee Cecil is a personal trainer and wellness coach who is passionate about all things health-related. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children. She enjoys sharing her knowledge about health and wellness on her blog.