So, you have bravely determined to roam where more faint-hearted mothers dare not: The Teen-Girl Zone, a.k.a. your daughter’s room! You want to help your teenage girls get organized, but you’re not really sure where to start. Well, as a professional organizer and mother of four teenage girls, I have a few tools to help you get your teenage girls get organized.
Let me encourage you by reminding you that learning any skill takes repetition, reward and coaching. I also have a small word of warning-if you have a rocky relationship with your teenage girl, this could become a bit of a power struggle. You don’t want to come between her clutter and emotions. May I suggest that you do a little research and determine what “organizational type” your daughter is. Organizing for Your Brain Type, by Lana Nakone is a precious resource that will help you decide whether your teenage girl is a people person, innovator, maintainer or prioritizer. Knowing how she needs to organize might reduce your struggles in the Teen-Girl Zone! What is the most fun schedule to get organized? Get in the Zone!
In the Zone
When you help a teenage girl organize her space, start with a few questions:
1. What do you love about your room? 2. What do you dislike about your room? 3. What things are in the right place that you certainly don’t want to move? 4. What do you do in your room? (Sleep, dress, read, homework, etc.) 5. Do you like the color and general arrangement of your room?
Knowing the answers to these questions helps get you in the zone and guides the organizational process, helping you see how you can avoid struggle. These questions also give you an opportunity to uncover possible areas for incentive. Would your daughter enjoy new bedding or painting her room? Perhaps you can offer those as rewards to her when she has organized her room and maintained it for one month.
Prepared with the right information, you will have success in the zone.
To a local government, zoning means determining how an area is to be used or developed-that’s the type of zoning you are going to help your teenage girl with. You know what zoning means to the typical teenager! It’s your job to help your teenage girl use these organizing tools to transform teenage zoning to space-use zoning.
Zone One-The Sleep Zone
It may seem obvious, but your daughter will be sleeping in the sleep zone, which includes the area immediately around your daughter’s bed. You should ask her what she needs to get a fine night’s sleep. Make a list of those items and make sure that those items are in her sleep zone.
Some items to consider in the sleep zone are: the bed, pillows, blankets, an alarm clock, and nightstand. Depending on your daughter’s habits, she may need a good lamp on her nightstand for reading; reading material; tissues; a water glass; paper and pencil; and chap stick. If there is no room for a nightstand, consider providing your daughter with a basket that can hold the things she needs that can be stowed under the bed or on a nearby shelf. A floor lamp or a lamp that can be clamped to her headboard might be fine alternatives for lighting.
Here’s a tip that can instantly make your daughter’s room look orderly: have her make her bed every day. If this is a habit she has never developed, you could offer to buy her new bedding if she consistently makes it every day for a set period of them – one month is always long enough to establish a brand new habit.
The last area to work on in the sleep zone is the space under the bed. Pull every thing out that might be lurking there. Sort through what needs to be kept in the sleep zone, what needs to be stored elsewhere, and what can be thrown away. My girls store bulky items like sleeping bags, overnight bags, and folding chairs under the bed.
Zone Two-The Clothes Zone
The Clothes Zone will probably take the most time of any zone in your teen girl’s room to organize. Make sure you have time to complete this project in one session; it could take up to three hours to organize, depending on how numerous clothes your teen has. You will need storage boxes or bags and cleaning supplies.
I have created a process to help you get your teenage girl’s clothes organized. Here are my seven steps to Clothes Zone Heaven!
Step One: Take all of her clothes out of her closet and dresser drawers and create categorized piles.
Pile 1-This season’s clothes, shoes and accessories that you are wearing now. Keep only clothes that fit and that you like and use.
Pile 2-Out-of-season clothes, shoes and accessories that you are sure will fit next year and that you like and will continue to use/wear.
Pile 3-All clothes, shoes and accessories that are too small, you don’t like, are stained or are beyond repair. (Bag up items to pass on to a sibling or friend. Or, you might want to take usable items to a consignment store or charity. Throw away everything that’s in unusable condition!)
Step Two: Take out all games, memorabilia, toys and stuff. Decide what you will keep and what can be given away. Anything in poor repair or missing pieces should be thrown away.
Step Three: Clean the closets and drawers thoroughly while they are empty. Wipe down walls and shelves, and then vacuum the floor and cobwebs along the ceiling.
Step Four: Place this season’s clothes, shoes and accessories back into the closet or dresser drawers. Hang or fold all clothes neatly. Make sure that jackets are buttoned or zipped. Group clothes by category: pants; shirts; skirts; and dresses together. Hang belts on hooks or hangers. Consider a shoe organizer, if your teen-girl has lots of shoes.
Step Five: Place off-season clothes, shoes and accessories in a clear plastic material bin and store under the bed or in the attic. If your closet is big enough, you may store your office season clothes and other items in the back of your closet.
Step Six: Place all games, toys and memorabilia back in your closet on a shelf or easy to see place. If memorabilia is worth keeping, it is worth keeping well, so make sure that your teen has an appropriately sized box to store all items neatly. You will also want to take this time to help your daughter consider what items are truly worth saving and which things she might let go.
Step Seven: Now that all of your teen-girl’s clothing and other belongings are nicely organized you can very easily see what items she might need. Make a list and plan to purchase and replace needed items.
Now that you have completed the seven steps to Clothes Zone Heaven all your teen girl needs to do is maintain the new order. I have found that it goes well when my daughters take a few moments each week to make sure that they are keeping things stored properly. Remind your daughter to give you items that they try on and no longer fit or that become stained or otherwise un-wearable. Dealing with items as they fall out of use is easier than working through an entire closet. Also, encourage her to immediately put clothes away that she decides not to wear. It takes seconds to hang up one outfit. It can take 15 minutes or much more to sort through and put away a pile of clothes!
Finally, you will want to make plans to revisit the Clothes Zone each season to repeat all seven steps.
Zone Three-The Study Zone
Zone Three is actually a matter of preference. You need to consider where your daughter always does her homework. If she most frequently does her homework in her room, not really the kitchen table or sitting in the bonus room, then she needs a homework zone established in her room.
If she prefers sitting at desk, then have her sit down at her desk and think through all the supplies that she needs while she is working there. Ask her what she uses every day or weekly. When I am working with a client, I give items that receive ordinary use what I call prime actual estate. Anything not really related to the tasks your daughter does sitting at the desk, do not really get to stay there. Keepsakes and memorabilia must be “containerized” and stored elsewhere. If your daughter prefers to work sitting on her bed or the floor, maybe all she needs is a basket of supplies that she can pull out when she is working. Next, make sure her Homework Zone is nicely lighted and that she has a comfy chair.
You will also want to make sure that this zone is well supplied, include: a calendar, clean sheet protectors, notebooks, note pads, as nicely as pencils and pens with a carrying case.
Now that you have worked through the three main zones of your daughter’s room, you will almost usually have items that don’t fit into any of the zones. You might place these in a bin and go through them to consider whether you will keep them. Here’s the test. Ask whether the item is used daily or weekly. If it is used that often, then it can stay.
With memorabilia and other items left, ask:
– Do you want to display the item– Should the item be stored or placed in a container to keep it in fine condition– Do you want to place the item in a scrapbook or photo album– Is there someone with whom you can share the item-
With collections ask:
– On a scale from one to ten, how much do you love this collection– Do you need the entire collection or only a couple of favorites– If the collection is important to you, are you keeping it well and where it can be enjoyed-If you both decide that a collection will be kept, assign it a shelf or container. When the space is full, attempt to purge the collection to make room for brand new items.
A final word of encouragement-if your daughter (or you!) struggle to let things go, try storing an item for six months. Agree that the item will be given or thrown away, if your daughter has not really asked for it during that time. Remember this is a life skill! If your daughter learns to manage her possessions now, she will have much less stress and be equipped to manage her own home some day.