ADHD-Friendly Ways to Organize a Home

Rear view of father and son cleaning dishes in kitchen at home

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An ADHD-friendly home is set up to make it easy for members with ADHD to manage daily stress and avoid emotional meltdowns. By following these basic rules, you'll not only simplify your family's life, but you'll lower stress levels for everyone.

Set up Daily Routines

Routines make life more predictable. From morning routines to afterschool routines to dinner routines to bedtime routines, schedules help provide consistency. Try to keep the time that your child wakes up in the morning, eats, and goes to bed each night fairly consistent from day to day. This is helpful advice for adults, too.

Designated Areas for Items

There should be a place for everything so that everything can be kept in — and found in — its place. For example, each child should have a designated area for bag pack, shoes, coats, or toys. If the child plays sports, provide a designated area for equipment. If she is involved in ballet, her ballet bag has a designated “home” and the clean leotard, tights and ballet slippers all stay in the ballet bag. For parents, there are designated areas for keys, purse or wallet, glasses. When everything has its own place and the family consciously makes this effort to get items in their designated spots, items can be found when needed. This also helps eliminate the “rush out the door” anxiety or frustrations people experience when they can’t find needed things. These times can obviously raise stress and tempers. Placing items in designated spots helps to proactively eliminate these tensions from occurring in the first place.

Reduce Clutter and Simplify

It is really hard for a child to keep his room clean when he is overwhelmed with "stuff.". Together, clean out all the unnecessary stuff. Go through toys and clothes drawers. It is frustrating when a child can’t close his dresser drawers because they are too full or he can’t find clothes because too many don’t fit. Together, clean them out so the task of putting away clothes and getting dressed becomes easier for your child. Get bins to use in the room so again everything has its own place. The same goes for adults, it becomes an overwhelming task just to clean the house when there is too much stuff! Decluttering your home can also help cut down on distractions that can derail you or your child.

Minimize Problem Situations

Structure the home in order to avoid problem situations. For example, if your child is extremely active and prone to flinging his or her arms and body around, don’t fill the family room with breakables and valuable antiques. Make the home kid-friendly. Don’t have swivel chairs in the house. Don’t get your child an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or BB guns. These items can set your ADHD child up for trouble. So think ahead and make simple adjustments to help prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

Set Up Clear House Rules

Make rules and expectations simple, concise and clear. Your children can also help develop the list of house rules. Make sure the rules are understood. Together come up with specific consequences and be consistent in following through with consequences. Try to approach situations calmly. Take a deep breath if you need to or even a brief “time out” if you have to compose yourself and get control of your emotions. A calm approach is more effective and won’t over-stimulate your child or escalate the situation.

Reward Positive Behavior

Reward positive behavior and praise your child’s efforts. Positive reinforcement can be powerful because it teaches children the behaviors that you want to see. This helps shape your child’s behavior in a positive way. Plus, it feels good when others notice the good things. We often get so caught up in the negative behaviors we want to change that we forget to praise the positive behaviors we see.

Use Central Family Calendars

A family calendar organizes all the information for the household in one centralized location. Social engagements, doctor appointments, school events, birthdays — these important dates can be written down on the calendar.

Have a Sense of Humor

Encourage joyfulness and humor. Don’t sweat the small stuff. A sense of humor can diffuse the most stressful of situations. Plus, laughter just feels good…much better than yelling.

Teach and Model Empathy

Take some time to really think about how difficult your child’s life is with ADHD. Reflect on feelings. Listen attentively. Spend positive one on one time with your child. Remember that when your child is really struggling sometimes a compassionate hug is the most effective intervention.

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