My AD/HD family members like to spread out their belongings, and don’t really seem to notice the stacks of clutter until my twitching is impossible to ignore. I realize that organizing and noticing details doesn’t come naturally to them, so to simplify the tasks I sat down and wrote step by step directions for each room in the house. I listed what supplies are needed, where to find the supplies, what tasks should be done daily, which ones only need done weekly, and some jobs that could be done just as needed. I stood in each room, reading and revising the lists, until I was convinced that if each of the items on the list were completed the room would look reasonably clean. I slipped each list into a plastic sleeve, so the items could be marked off with a dry erase marker when completed. I put each sleeve on a ring, so it could be hung on a designated hook and easily located and replaced once a room was cleaned.
I still think it’s a good idea, and it should have worked. Should have. It wasn’t long before the excuses starting coming in – no dry erase marker could be found, the written list had gone missing and no one remembered moving it or seeing it, or my least favorite “The room looked pretty good already.” Just yesterday, I asked my son Josh to please clean the kitchen since he had been assigned that room for the week. He started the dishwasher, then informed me he had to leave for work. Before I could say anything, he pointed out “But at least the sink is empty.” A glance revealed dirty dishes in both sides of the sink, although there were fewer than before he started. I pointed out that the sink was not in fact empty, but Josh just cheerfully replied that at least it looked better than it had. Somehow my AD/HD ones equate “starting the dishwasher” with “I cleaned the kitchen now” even if the sink, counters, and floor are filthy. In their minds, the kitchen is clean and they are happy with it.
Reminders to use the list loop us back to the previously listed excuses. It puzzles me that they seem to like it when things are clean and they can find what they need when they need it, but they won’t put forth the effort to maintain it even when I finally manage to get things truly clean.