Is being disorganized, inherent? I am not sure. I see parents struggling all the time to keep up and stay organized. Heck even I have days when I struggle. We are all being pulled in a hundred different directions. College students have just left for the first time “alone”. Have you prepared them or have you been a parent that does everything for them: the cooking, the cleaning, the time management, the taxi driver and all the other endless tasks? For many, they will struggle academically. For others, life’s tasks, for example, getting to class on time, managing all the homework and exams, doing laundry and keeping their shared room clean and organized, will be a struggle. My first roommate was a SLOB. Never hung things up, her dishes would pile up and the trash would be overflowing. I never got the memo I was the maid. It was gross and at first, I started cleaning up for her because it was embarrassing. But her mother had done everything for her. Don’t get me wrong, I did not know how to cook (we had no dining hall, we were to cook for ourselves) but I was lucky I had girl in my dorm who help me learn how to use electric oven vs. gas oven. I was the youngest of 5 in an Irish household and my mother did all the cooking so that was something new for me.
For the moms and dads who do it all STOP. It’s so important to teach your children now. The younger the better. Now for folks reading this saying I am an adult and I have no idea how to organize or clean. I am simply amazed how many grown adults that don’t know how to do either. I had a lady tell me she was locked in her room as a child for long periods of time (without the use of bathroom or kitchen) until she cleaned up her room. She told me she was locked in her room for almost a week because she did not know how to do cleaning. How she did not starve to death or have a bladder infection I will never know. For her cleaning/organizing was a punishment. Organizing with her was a challenge. Her idea of clean was to put the stuff in trash bags and throw it out. Very sad and very scary.
I always tell people start slow. Work with your kids and help them to pick up there toys each night and put them away. Make their beds in the morning with them. On weekends change the beds, have them help. Have them begin to help do the laundry as young as they can. I think I was twelve. I was the folder at first, and the “carrier” up the stairs for Mom. Cooking was another story with my mom, who was a single mom. She got things ready in the refrigerator with instructions on what to put what in first, second and third. That way when she got home dinner was already going. My four older sisters and I all took turns cooking while doing homework. In this day and age everyone is out doing soccer or cheer leading, no one seems to be home doing homework. I have no idea how folks get dinner on the table.
If your home is cluttered, take a deep breath, tackle one room at time, and one project at time. Work with your kids and learn together. Like the term paper that you tried to do in one night, cleaning/organizing can’t be done in one session. Break up the tasks into doable steps. If you are working with your kids, set some ground rules. NO ONE CAN JUST TOSS THINGS, it has to be a decision done together. Everyone gets a say. Look for easy things like broken items you keep saying your going to fix, things you don’t wear anymore, toys no longer played with, hobbies that never lasted, books you did not like or have not read. Once these items are eliminated, you are freer to work on harder items. The things you love, use, and want to keep.
Tackle one thing at a time say the “DRESSER”. First pull out everything then look at everything. See what fits, what looks good, what do you love, what is tattered, spotted or missing buttons, what did you never like or was too itchy. Make a pile to donate, fold the things you want to keep, and vacuum the drawers. Put like things together, shirts, pants, underwear, scarves, whatever. Dust off the top, toss all the junk on the top too. Make a COIN JAR. Collect all the loose change. You may be surprised how much cash you have laying around. Vacuum again around it. And it is done. Look at what you have done, together.
Reward yourself with an intangible item. Go to movies, go to the driving range, see that play, go for a hike. NO NEW STUFF. Remember, you are trying to clean things out.
Keep the organizing/cleaning going until each room in the house is better. Rome was not built in a day, organizing your house also takes time. Some weeks you will be able to do a task and other weeks there is too much going on. Cut yourself some slack. You can’t organize 24/7. Believe me I have tried.
Teach your children (and yourself now) how to clean and organize. I promise it will be the best lesson ever taught.
Good luck COLLEGE FRESHMEN!!