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How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

Posted by minigreenhouse (My Page) on
Wed, May 31, 06 at 11:58

My son is a good student with GAP above 3.7. However, he is not the best organizer. His room and his car could really get to my nerve sometimes.

How can I encourage him to keep his room and car cleaned and organized?

Any input is greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

You really can't. (sorry, but it's true! i was there myself not so long ago - i had no desire to be more organized, so without motivation, it stayed messy. eventually I grew up a little more and it got a little cleaner.)

Being organized is something he'll have to figure out on his own at this point - and he has to have a reason to be organized.

Sounds like he's still living with you, so you do have some control over his room. But I think there's a fine line between treating each other like adults and seeming like a nagging mom... I don't see anything wrong with asking him to do more than spend a few minutes tidying it up though.

Have you ever done the Flylady system? Some of her basics are to work in small chunks and don't expect perfection. That might help your son (not trying to get him on flylady, that might be too much unless he really wants to get organized). Just tidying for 15 minutes can make a bigger dent than you think, so perhaps you can ask your son for 15 minutes of his time. Maybe 15 minutes will only let the papers go from messy piles to neat stacks for example, but even that's an improvement.


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RE: How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

I have a 22 yo living at home and going to school also. You can't organize him. There have to be consequences that compel someone to change. If he's keeping a 3.7 average, then he's doing something right as far as school is concerned.

Close the door to his room and make sure he understands that no food is allowed (no bugs). He surely does his own laundry, so really there isn't a reason to focus on his room.

Don't look at the car. As long as you don't have to drive the thing, then the mess doesn't really affect you.

I really figure that if I haven't done my job by the time they are out of high school, then they will have to learn the lessons life teaches them. Micromangaging a 22 yo won't help him, it will just make him even worse.

The only places my 22 yo must conform is the public spaces in the house. He can't be a pig in the bathroom he shares with his brother. He can't just dump his shoes and coat in the entry. Just like the rest of us, he's excepted to maintain those shared spaces. His girlfriend gives him negative feedback when he lets his car and room get too bad. One word from her and he's digging out the trash bags. When he can't find something he needs, I just remind him that keeping track of his stuff isn't my job.

Time to let go, mom.

Gloria


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RE: How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

I agree with the other posters, especially Gloria. He must be somewhat organized to have such a good GPA. As for the rest of it, you cannot control it, and he may get better with time, nagging definitely will not help but will spoil whatever relationship you have with him. There may be some natural consequences of his messiness, and that's the best thing that can happen. But his messes cannot intrude in the general family living areas. No dishes, glasses, socks, and other stuff left scattered around the house. And he should be doing his own laundry.


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RE: How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

You could ask if it bothers him, how bad it is. And you can tell him pointers, etc., if it does bother him. (like, that you heard of people who always clean out their car while they're pumping gas, bcs the trash can is right there, and they're bored waiting anyway--I mentioned this to my sis, whose car was a mega pit, and she's started doing it, and it's made a real difference)

*sometimes* people only need strategies. Being neat or being organized is not actually an intrinsic thing--it's a matter of skills being built up.

It's also sometimes a matter of having the right tools--if the dresser has shallow drawers or isn't big enough (not that it should be huge, of course), it can be hard to even neatly store a normal wardrobe. A hamper in the corner of the room can be easier to use than a system that requires you to carry your clothes down the hall.

You could take a look at his room and see if it looks like he's got outdated stuff in there, then offer to set aside a Saturday morning to help him clean out, so he can free up the infrastructure he does have.

Beyond that, there isn't much you can do. I'm trying hard to remember that now--when my kids are 8 and 11--is the time to teach them to be organized, and responsible, etc., by BEING organized and responsible, etc., myself. Setting them an example is the best thing I can do for them. But I have to do it now, bcs it won't work if I start when they're 18.


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RE: How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

My son is organized now--he married a wonderful girl who is a nurse; his garage is neat, clean. His drawers look like a display at Macys. She throws newspapers out pretty much the second you are through reading them. I love to have her visit because those dishes are done within seconds of the last spoon of dessert. She does it quickly and quietly, and cheerfully. I never hear her nag him, but boy is his stuff neat. Maybe she smacks him on the head when I am not looking, but she should write a book.


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RE: How to get my 22 year old college kid to be better organized?

Marge, it's amazing what a good example can do--that, and the company while you do it.


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