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 family members with ADHD to manage daily stress and avoid emotional meltdowns. By following these strategies, you'll not only simplify your family's life, but you'll lower stress levels for everyone.

Optimum Organization For Your Home

Kids and adults with ADHD are coping with a lot of chaos inside their brains and bodies. So surrounding them with a calm, orderly, predictable environment on the outside is essential.

Designate Areas for Specific Items

You have likely heard the saying "A place for everything, and everything in its place." Take this to heart. It helps keep your home organized and allows everyone to find what they need when they need it.

Each child should have a designated area for backpacks, shoes, coats, or toys. If the child plays sports, provide a defined place for equipment. If they are involved in ballet, the ballet bag has a home and the clean leotard, tights, and ballet slippers all stay in the bag. For parents, provide a drop zone for keys, purse or wallet, and glasses.

This strategy helps eliminate the “rush out the door” anxiety and stress that happens when family members can’t find essential items.

Reduce Clutter and Simplify

It is hard for a child to keep their room clean when they are overwhelmed with stuff. Together, clean out unnecessary toys and clothes. Make sure what remains is stored in a simple, visible way so kids can maintain the system.

The same goes for adults. It becomes an overwhelming task to clean 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

Anticipate problems and structure your home to avoid them. For example, if your child is extremely active and prone to flinging their arms and body around, don’t fill the family room with breakables and valuable antiques. 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 child up for trouble. Instead, provide safer alternatives to allow your child to exert energy.

Set Up Rules and Routines

Routines make life more predictable. From morning to after school to dinner routines to bedtime, schedules help provide consistency (important for every child, not just those with ADHD). 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.

Use a Family Calendar

A family calendar organizes all the information for the household in one centralized location where everyone can see and use it. Social engagements, doctor appointments, school events, birthdays: Write these important dates on the calendar and remind everyone to refer to it often.

Have 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 give yourself 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.

Have a Sense of Humor

Encourage joyfulness and humor in your home. 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.

A Word From Verywell

Your child's life with ADHD can be difficult. Approach them with empathy and make your home a safe, calming refuge. Along with your organization techniques and rules (which are both important and helpful), spend positive one-on-one time with your child. When your child is really struggling, sometimes a compassionate hug is the most effective intervention.

By Keath Low
 Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD.