Vicky wrote to The Organizing Diva recently:
“My 9 year old daughter inherited my bad habit of not picking up after [one]self and leaving projects unfinished for weeks. Her bedroom and playroom/guestroom get messier and messier every day. How can I teach her that an organized, clean room gives you easier access to all your stuff when I am setting a bad example myself. Every month we go through a drawn-out, tear-inducing clean-up that leaves us both completely wiped out. Any tips or suggestions (for both of us)?”

Oh my dear Vicky,
You have quite a situation on your hands and I am sure that you’re feeling not only stressed but perhaps a tad bit guilty. We all want to be perfect role models for our kids or young people in our lives. But perhaps you can see it as a situation where a mirror is being held up for you, yet not judge yourself so harshly. We all have our issues and your are not alone in your struggle to become organized.
Consider looking at this situation as a mother-daughter project. How can the BOTH of you improve your organizing skills? It’s not just about her and her messy room. Perhaps an honest discussion with your daughter about how you are trying to be more organized and would also like for her to become more organized. And now what can the both of you do together?
I would recommend taking small steps to start off with. First, figure out when is the best time to do a little organizing with your daughter. Is she at her best early in the morning, getting home from school or right after dinner?
Start this session by getting a kitchen timer. Ask your daughter to, let’s say for example, to pick up her clothes and put them away. And you’re going to do exactly the same thing but in your own bedroom. Set the timer for 15 minutes and put it in the hallway so that the both of you can hear it go off.
Now all that the two of you need to do is to start organizing for only 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, stop and evaluate what each of you accomplished. Still feeling like you could accomplish more? Set the timer for another 15 minutes and see what you can get done in round two. I recommend that you do this ritual every day together. Perhaps this Saturday morning, you could set the timer for 30 minutes to tackle a bigger project.
With this methodology, your daughter will see that you are both in this together, and that you are taking some small, but definite steps on a regular basis to make changes to your old habits. When you get into a regular organizing routine, you won’t feel as overwhelmed. My hope is that you and your daughter will grower stronger as you tackle this challenge together.
Good luck Sweetie and thanks for sharing!