Read these 10 Organize the Environment Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about ADD-ADHD tips and hundreds of other topics.
Handheld electronic organizers and small voice activated tape recorders are a boon to busy parents. Once a week coordinate each child's schedule and decide which parent will be the 'runner' for that day. It saves time and avoids lots of mobile phone calls during a busy part of the day. Voice activated tape recorders can hold all of your spontaneous great ideas, and serve as auditory file folder for you to transcribe later. When a pen and paper are not handy or convenient to use, such as when you are driving, simply speak up and let the recorder keep track of it all.
Timers and alarm clocks are a boon for ADD and ADHD individuals because they provide both auditory and visual clue for self-pacing.
It is helpful to have two kinds of clocks in the family home. A windup clock or a battery driven one is always ready in case of a power failure. This eliminates the excuse that the power was out therefore the clock did not ring.
Timers are great tools because they can be set to any number of minutes and it helps everyone stay on task or denote a time of "take a break."
Time chunking works well for Attention Deficit individuals. This involves focusing on a single task until it is completed. Homework may be done using time chunks. Household chores may be done using this method. When a child recognizes that all he or she has to focus on is a single task, it often is perceived as "doable" by the child because the distraction of having to do two or more things at once is removed.
By taping a "To Do" list to your clock, you can review how much progress as you check the time throughout the day.
Whatever the chore, work in 15-30 minutes chunks of time and don't do anything else until you have completed that task. Take a water break and then return to the task in short segments until the task is completed. Make a note of how long the job took. This will help make scheduling work, chores, and other activities easier.
Turn hoarding into giving. AD/HD individuals typically love to hoard: tiny scraps of paper, rubber bands, old papers, and the like. Often children love to hoard well-loved but outgrown items in closets and drawers and under the bed. Set aside a large box, and encourage your children to put their 'treasure' in the box to share with other children through local charities that collect such items. Share yours, too, and encourage conversation about the items.
File this under 'Practical.'
Large filing cabinets are just the thing to keep children organized. Allow one drawer per child. Everything should be able to fit into this drawer, including backpacks. Folders, school supplies and other related items may be placed in this drawer. This drawer is the child's responsibility to maintain and keep tidy.
Creativity is one of the signatures of ADD children. Encourage them to think of different ways to accomplish a chore or complete an individual responsibility such as homework organization.
Write out a list of chores to be done. Separate the indoor chores from the outdoor chores. Allow your child to select one chore from both categories. Make eye contact with your child and explain how this chore needs to be accomplished. Be very specific. Set a timer as a way to manage the chores and check on the work as it is in progress. Let's say that the indoor chore is emptying the dishwasher. A child with a creative streak may surprise you by reordering the way objects fit into a space. An inventive mind sees or perhaps senses a different way of using objects and the ingenuity of some children is nothing short of amazing. Who knew that spilt milk is best cleaned up by the cat or a borrowed cat? Or that a drinking straw makes a wonderful support for tender plants? We can learn a lot from these clever children.
Let's say the outdoor chore is raking leaves. Leave it to a creative type to "share" the workload with others Tom Sawyer style. This combines not only completing a task but turning it into a social occasion as well.
It is hard not to laugh when a creative child comes up with a new way to do something routine, especially when they explain how they arrived at the end of the creative process, and humor is a wonderful tool. Just make sure that the child understand that your humor is evoked by the process and the child.
Another way to elicit creativity is to encourage your child to help you in the kitchen. There is something magical about stirring separate ingredients into a bowl and creating something good to eat. A fun kitchen chore would be to get your child to "doctor" up a bowl of plain popcorn. Some children do amazing well with this "creative" chore and the whole family gets to enjoy the results.
Another creative chore would involve organizing personal papers in the child's bookbag and room. The parent could paperclip play money onto a few of the scattered papers. As the child organizes the papers - one at the time, please - he or she will come across the play money. The play money represents a token economy and when the job is complete and "good enough," the play money can be exchanged for a special treat. The search for unexpected treasure can keep a child focused on the task at hand. Play money is but only one fun incentive. You could write out small phrases onto paper such as "Way to go!" or "Let me know when you have half finished - we'll have a snack together," these kinds of discovered affirmation go far in helping parent and child bond.
The element of surprise often works when other approaches do not. Give it a try. You may be delighted by the solution.
When the child makes an effort, however small, in attempting to show respect for the house rules by doing their chores (or follow the rules for behavior), energize their success! Express your appreciation for the cooperation and effort. This is a great way to maintain the behavior that you want, while encouraging your child to perform at his or her best.
Make charts that outline chores. Keep the language simple and clear. Break each job down into its smallest components. "Make the bed," for example, may be broken down into micro-steps:
Smooth the bottom sheet with your hand.
Smooth the top sheet.
Pull up the blanket.
Smooth the blanket.
Pull up the cover.
Smooth the cover…and so forth.
Post a daily schedule—everywhere. Post the schedule in the kitchen, family room, on the bathroom mirror, and in the bedrooms. Refer to the schedule frequently. Allow plenty of time for transitions if you need to disrupt the routine. ADD children thrive on predictability and routine. Disruptions to a schedule can throw these children into a tailspin.
(Hint: Make a master schedule and cut and paste it over and over into a Word document for duplicates.)
Clutter Buster. Once a week play some lively music and go through your child's room with him or her as you de-clutter the space. The benefit is two-fold. You get to spend some one-on-one time with your child, and the workload of clutter removal stays manageable when two share the chore.
Organization is the key to creating a smooth running environment for the ADD or ADHD person. Hooks for coats, a shelf for boots, and a place for everything will be immensely helpful. Label drawers, shelves, and cabinet interiors with the items kept there. If your child is a non-reader, you might consider using graphics. Keep a laundry basket in each closet. This way there is clarity about what goes where and this cuts down on clutter.