Parents are often at their wits’ end over the state of their teenagers’ bedrooms.  How can they live like that?  They could find things so much more easily if they’d stay organized!  Often they call me to help find solutions.  Here’s what I see when I go into teen spaces.

  • Trash.  This sounds crazy, but often what I see most is trash.  Please be sure to provide an appropriately sized trash bin for your kid in their room. 
  • Dirty laundry.  An adequately sized laundry hamper or basket is essential.
  • Dead electronics, especially broken headphones.  Have an annual family day for going through and weeding out dead electronics and taking them to e-disposal.
  • Vaping materials.  I’m not in a teen’s space to rat them out, but I will say that parents need to have conversations with their teens about vaping.  
  • Money, gift cards, and important documents stuffed in odd places. Often, teens have no place to put valuables.  Some parents won’t like to hear this, but I think teens need a little lock box where they can safely store money, gift cards, diaries, and other things that are important to them.  Teens need to feel in control of certain things, and enjoy a level of privacy. Of course, if a kid hasn’t earned that privacy, that’s different. But in general, I believe the bedrock of a healthy parent-teen relationship is respect and communication.

Here are some other things that are particularly helpful in organizing teen spaces and helping them stay tidy:

  • A box for memorabilia.  Often, letters, ticket stubs, photos, and other keepsakes are mixed in with trash and dirty laundry on the floor. The problem here is that without a special box to stash and safely store things like this, they are left out where they need to be interacted with on a regular basis.  Teens need to know that they don’t have to keep everything; they have a choice in the matter. And parents have to respect that. Instead of trying to talk your kid into keeping something, ask if it’s ok for you to keep it — in your own box, not theirs.   
  • Makeup space:  Teens using makeup need a spot that’s not going to get stained.  Add a glass or plexiglass surface to a desk or dresser, and take the time to put a drawer liner down in bathroom drawers.
  • Bookshelves.  If you haven’t provided shelves, don’t be surprised if books are stacked on the floor or scattered about.  Are your kids re-readers? If not, help them donate books when they’re done with them.  
  • A place to do school work.  This includes a desk of an appropriate size, and a space to hold pens/pencils/school supplies.  If doesn’t fit in their room, put it elsewhere in the house.  
  • Bulletin board.  This gives teens a place to display things without constantly putting holes in the walls.
  • A bin for things they’re done with.  With teens, a favorite outfit or beloved toy can become a hated object in a matter of minutes.  Have a bin handy where your teen can stash things they no longer want or need — things they’re ready to donate, hand down to younger siblings, pack away in the attic, recycle, etc.  Teach them to use it for clothes they don’t want any more instead of throwing those items on the floor and then rewashing them a thousand times. If your teen seems particularly fickle about clothing, introduce the concept of a Clothing Swap.  Basically, a group of friends gets together with items that no longer work for them, and they swap for things that others are through with. If a more anonymous situation is preferred, swaps can be set up through school groups, churches, neighborhoods, or other organizations.  Regardless, they’re a great way to keep from accumulating unwanted clothing, and maintain a wardrobe you love!