088: Helping Disorganized Kids Work Smarter, Not Harder, with Laurie Palau

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Challenges with planning and organization are common among kids with ADHD. It shows up with messy bedrooms, lost items, missing or never turned in homework, not putting things away, etc. The consequences of disorganization aren't just frustrating for kids, they're frustrating for their parents, too. 

In this episode, I'm talking with organizing expert, Laurie Palau of Simply B Organized. Join us as we discuss how everyone learns and processes differently, how to communicate with your child so they are clear on expectations and processes and open to hearing your suggestions, implementing routines to improve organization, and Laurie's top five tools and strategies for anyone to get and stay organized. 


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My Guest


Laurie Palau is the author of the book HOT MESS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO GETTING ORGANIZED, host of the popular weekly podcast, This ORGANIZED Life, and founder of Simply B Organized-a lifestyle company helping people live simply and work smarter.

Her advice has been featured in national publications including Real Simple & The New York Times. A self-described homebody and coffee lover, Laurie lives in Bucks County, PA with her husband Josh, 2 daughters, and dog, Jeter.



Laurie Palau (00:02): Most if not all people, they want to feel empowered, they want to have purpose, they want to have control and as opposed to a lot of moms that want to just complete it because it'll get done quicker, it'll get done the way they want. Investing that time to say, I trust you, I'm empowered. You'll give me this platform to learn and stumble and if we have to tweak it along the way we will, but what works for you?

Intro (00:34): Welcome to the parenting ADHD podcast where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD-alcoholic and mindset Mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams (01:03): Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast. I am thrilled to be talking to Laurie Palau today on helping our kids to work smarter and not harder and looking at life systems planning and organization, those skills that really are lagging for our kids. Looking at how we can help them to be successful, how we can scaffold and support and help them to work smarter so that they can really be successful in many areas where they struggle. Thanks for being here. Lori, will you start by just introducing yourself, who you are and what you do?

Laurie Palau (01:41): Absolutely. I'm so excited to be here. So I'll just give kind of the personal cliff notes first and then I'll talk a little bit about my business and how those two integrate. Perfect. so personally I am married to my husband Josh for almost 22 years and we have two daughters together. My older daughter is 19, just finished her freshman year of college. And then I have a 16 year old junior in high school named Logan and she is obviously here currently distance learning. And she also struggles with ADHD and procedural processing. And so I know a lot about that topic and very passionate about talking about it. And professionally I run a company called simply be organized, which is a lifestyle company that helps to teach, inspire, motivate, and empower people to live simply and work smarter. And in addition to the work that I do, I also run a worldwide network of professional organizers from all over who help people in their local communities. So we act as a resource for all over the country and internationally, helping them connect up with people if they need to, to help them either with their physical space or with strategies on helping them live their best lives. So that's a little bit about me.

Penny Williams (03:15): Amazing. We both have juniors in high school and kids in college.

Laurie Palau (03:20): Yes. And it's, it's, it's a crazy time it's, it's a crazy time and then throw in a kid that isn't necessarily neuro-typical or has some learning differences and it's adds a whole other kind of layer to this whole crazy equation.

Penny Williams (03:36): Yeah. And what we're referring to here is the current of virus pandemic for those who are listening way in the future. We are living that right now. And so that's what we're alluding to, but it's definitely an odd time and unprecedented. So we're all kind of learning, which I think gives us all a little anxiety. I already have enough anxiety as it is, but I think our kids are probably hiding it. I think that they're pretty anxious about what's going on to you and about learning in a different way that's unknown for them for sure. Why don't we start diving into this conversation by talking about what you mean when you say work smarter.

Laurie Palau (04:17): So I have always subscribed to the belief that you don't have to fit into a specific box in order to be productive. And even back in my previous life before I started my business, which was in 2009 I was an executive recruiter for 15 years. And so I worked in a corporate setting and I worked with people across different industries and all different job functions. And I think there's this like belief, this false narrative that you need to be in an office and you need to be there from nine to five or eight to six or whatever that magic number is in order to be productive and you need to dress a certain way and look a certain way and have this external kind of image to project a level of productivity. And I just never believed that. I felt that product people learn at different rates, people process information differently.

Laurie Palau (05:20): This is like way before I even had kids and I said I know what's sucks if I know what's expected of me and what I need to accomplish if I can get that done in five hours versus eight, why do I need to sit there and like pretend to play the part? And so that's really how my journey of kind of working smarter wanted to be. Because I believe, and again now we're seeing this because our freedom and our time is being taken away from us because of the current climate of life under quarantine. But even before that, I was always believed that our greatest commodity is time. And if there was ways for me to be able to accomplish what I needed to accomplish and reclaim time, I can't add hours into the day. But if I could do things to work smarter to be able to accomplish the things that I need to do, why would I not do that?

Laurie Palau (06:18): And that could translate into a professional setting that could translate into being a stay at home mom. And that translates into your kids. And yes, there are certain restrictions, but I think speaking right now, looking at how kids that were in a brick and mortar school, just using this as a real life example and they were used to being in a school for seven and a half hours and now they're thrust into this distance learning where they're getting maybe a couple hours of online instruction and then they're left to kind of figure it out. Some people are struggling and some people are realizing, Hey, I'm able to get done what I need to get done in a shorter amount of time. So it's about finding the rhythm that works for you and what that looks like.

Penny Williams (07:11): Yeah, and I love that you had said that we don't have to fit in the box because nothing could be truer for our kids especially. But I'm talking to parents all the time about kind of throwing away the rule book. We have to redefine what it looks like to succeed for our kids. And really this is something we should do for every child and be raising individuals instead of trying to raise kids under these kind of conformist ideas that, that we've had and our culture for generations. But that's a whole other soapbox I can get on and, and fly away with. But it's so important in raising kids with differences to recognize that none of us need to be in the box. We just don't, there's so many ways to accomplish something and we have to look at what is the end goal.

Penny Williams (08:12): And I talk a lot about this with parents in relation to homework and schoolwork. What is the goal of an assignment? If it's a project on space, let's say, and you know the teacher wants an essay and a project board and very specific things. If your child struggles with some of that, stepping back and saying, okay, what is the goal? The goal is to learn about space and to show that they've learned about space. So how else could they do that besides the sat way that the teacher has outlined? And I think that goes for everything, right?

Laurie Palau (08:53): Oh, a hundred percent and I too, and I'm sure you have numerous podcasts on this topic and, and I've done some on my own as well because I think it's really important to understand that everybody has potential, but people learn differently and people have different motivations for what they're looking to get out of. being in an education setting and what working smarter and what the carrot that entices one person is not the carrot that entice another. I mean I look at my two kids and their motivations are completely different. even if I'm looking to get the same end result, my approach as a parent is going to be very different in how I position myself in trying to get that desired result. Whether that is I want them to make their bed or I want them to brush their teeth or I want them to do household chores or do their homework and, and some people are going to like look at things from a more logical step.

Laurie Palau (09:59): Other people are going to look at it by how it makes them feel and, and where they see the value. And I think it's important as parents for us to just take a step back and not think about necessarily the way we've done things that works for us and recognize that that might not work for our kids. And I have an actual story. Do you have a minute for me to tell this love stories? So as I said, I've, I have two girls. They're just under three years apart and, but they're two grades apart. And so my older daughter is what one would call like a neuro-typical. She's typical first born, overachiever, straight a student voted most athletic, involved in every extracurricular, like just kind of checks all those boxes. When she was little I thought I was like the greatest parent.

Laurie Palau (10:52): I have this whole parenting thing figured out cause she was very, she was an easy kid to parent. She's a people pleaser and she's a rule follower. And so when she started kindergarten or first grade, as soon as she started getting homework, she would come home off the bus. And I was fortunate that I worked from home so I was able to kind of flex, flex my schedules. She come in, I'd give her a snack and then I would say, okay, let's do your homework. Even if it was like a worksheet or two and then I'd be like, okay, you could go play or watch TV or go about the rest of your evening until we had to do whatever. And that worked. That's what worked for me because I was the type of kid that I like to get my homework done and then not have it hanging over my head.

Laurie Palau (11:37): And when she was younger that's, that worked for her. We'll fast forward a couple years to my younger daughter now I knew from the get go and, and I don't have to go down her old ADH D story. I'm happy to tell it. But I always knew that she was struggling with it and it wasn't officially diagnosed till she was in second grade. But I always knew that she struggled. And so when she came home with the same one or two worksheets, I try to go through the same ritual and routine and it was a battle and she was exhausted and she was oppositional and what should have been probably 10 15 minutes at best of just doing a simple assignment would turn into hours. And it was a fight. And I'm talking like with a six year old like this is like, I'm looking back at like, why don't you just get it done?

Laurie Palau (12:36): And she's like, I just want to watch a show. And I realized after months of battling and trying to strong arm her as the parent, and this is the way that we do things and this is what works, that she needed that time to come home and decompress and then we come to find out and then you're riddled with mom, guilt of all the things. Like she's this kid that's got ADHD and she's bottling that in through trying to conform all day and she needs to come home and decompress. And once I came to that conclusion and gave her a timeframe and said, okay, you're going to come home, you're going to watch a show, you're going to have a snack, but at four 30 or five whatever time we said that we're going to sit down and do our work. And then the project actually did take the air quote normal amount of time to complete because she was able to do it in what worked for her as opposed to me trying to fit her in. And I've got countless stories like that. But I think it's a perfect example of really trying to illustrate that the one size fits all approach doesn't work. No,

Penny Williams (13:54): No. And if ever there was a population that works the least for, it's our kids who have nerve developmental differences for sure. Sure. And I have a very similar story of battling with my son. I'm the type a person that I am once to your just get it over with. Let's get it, let's get it off our plate and my son is anything but let's get it done. And he's, how long can I avoid this before mom's head explodes because it's so difficult for him. It's so painful. He's already been holding it together for hours a day. all of these things play into that. And what you're allowing your daughter to do is kind of refill her gas tank get a little replenishment and be able then to get some things done and nonpreferred tasks of all things we're asking them to do after a full day at in our normal world before the pandemic.

Penny Williams (14:55): Anyway. and I think now too though, we tend to I still, my son is 17 and I want him to get up and get it done. So now you do it online, but I still need you to get up and get it done because I don't want to have to worry about it the rest of the day. Right. And we have to really be cautious of that. We're, we're trying to make our kids ourselves and they're individuals, they're not us, they're different. And that really is kind of this lens that we need to look at a lot of things through for our kids. Let's talk about some systems, like what sort of strategies and systems can we put in place that would be kind of this idea of work smarter? For me, one of the ways I feel like I work smarter is when I have to go run errands.

Penny Williams (15:52): I went to go out one time and I went to get everything done. And for other people that's too much. And it can be physically too much for me. I have fibromyalgia and I'll push myself. This is the most efficient way to do this. You go out one time, you get it all done. Right. And to me that's working smarter. There's a home for every object in our house, only to me. No one else in my house can follow that but me. But that's another way that I feel like I'm working smarter as I know where to find things.

Laurie Palau (16:25): I think I and I agree, I'm just kind of like jotting down notes as, as you're talking, thinking about, because the one, the one common denominator that I think is so important is communication. Because we all have our own agendas and we all work in a way. We all adapt, right? Like our kids figure out a way to make it work, even if it's difficult, they figure out a way. And I've seen that with both my girls, they figure out the system that works for them and that doesn't always mean it's going to work for us. And I think having a first and foremost, having communication of what is theirs to do in terms of their ownership and what is it that I have to navigate and oversee and what is the best way for us to do this with the least opposition.

Laurie Palau (17:19): And that might look different. I'm very type a like you in the sense that I like to time block, I like to work smart in the sense of if I have phone calls to make and I'm dedicating this time to I'm going to sit down, I'm going to bang out all my phone calls, I'm going to run errands, I'm going to have my list, I have it on my phone so I can constantly be updating it and I can go out and have it all done. And I think it's about understanding kind of what your kid's goals are. And I think you need to lead by example, right? Doesn't mean that they're always going to follow your system. But giving them first and foremost, being organized is a learned skill. It comes more naturally to some people, just like some people are more naturally artistic or more naturally athletic, but overall it's a learned skill that anybody can learn.

Laurie Palau (18:09): It just a matter of figuring out the system that works for you. For me with my younger daughter, we were big with checklists because she has auditory processing. That was a big thing. Even just starting back when she was in school precursor unities, our mornings would start off tense because I would constantly be, did you brush your teeth? Did you make your bed, did you brush your hair? Did you put your clothes in your hamper? Like we have this laundry list of things and I would continue to sound like a nag. Then I would get frustrated and sometimes she was just zoning out. Sometimes it was she wasn't paying attention by choice and other times it just wasn't her fault. She just wasn't comprehending the information. And what we finally determined worked for her was I created an upstairs checklist and a downstairs checklist because if she were to look at it, she could see it versus trying to remember it.

Laurie Palau (19:16): And so instead of me going through this checklist one by one, did you do this? Did you do this, did you do this? I could just say, don't forget to go over your checklist. it was just one thing before you come downstairs you need to go through this. And for her motivation, me yelling or getting frustrated didn't bother her. Where my young, my older daughter, if I would raise my voice and was a crazy person, she would feel like really like that would bother her. My younger daughter couldn't care less. So the punishment or the discipline also had to look different. The consequences for not completing these things had to look different for my kid because the same, the same rules didn't carry the same amount of weight for my younger daughter saying I'm going to take away your device had a lot more impact.

Laurie Palau (20:11): So you have to know your kid of what it did. So for us having those checklists, because it gave me tangible, quantifiable stuff to say, look, you did really well on this day and giving her whatever the types of praise or affirmation worked for her. And in terms of your kids, depending on what age they are, I don't think there's anything wrong with having some level of a reward system. I think we're all intrinsically motivated, but it's a matter of determining what's gonna work for you. And as somebody who would rather, again, I kind of preach about the value of time for me I would say if more that you do, we can have some more one on one time or we can have an afternoon together or we could play a game together or we could watch a TV show together.

Laurie Palau (21:01): And so it wasn't like a monetary thing. It was more about if you do these things, then the time and a lot of these obviously your age appropriate depending on kind of where your kid is, what levels of independence they can have. Like there are certain boundaries. But I think what I found is that most, if not all people, they want to feel empowered. They want to have purpose, they want to have control and as opposed to a lot of moms that want to just complete it because it'll get done quicker, it'll get done the way they want. I'm investing that time to say, I trust you, I'm empowering you. I'm giving you this platform to learn and stumble and if we have to tweak it along the way, we will. But what works for you? This is the end result. We need to get your homework done. We need to get your room clean. We need to fill in the blank of whatever it is. How do you propose getting it? What would work for you and for your kids? I mean, I think this could go through with any kids, but specifically in my experience with my own child, allowing her to have her own voice really gave me an insight and perspective that I'm not inside her head. I don't know, and I thought I did.

Penny Williams (22:29): Right, right. I think we kind of assume that we all function the same way and we really don't. And there's so many an infinite amount of variations in that. We had the morning checklist as well when my son was young and it was actually a laminated card that he could carry from room to room and upstairs and downstairs with him. And it was kind of like a game and it had an immediate reward based on what time he got done. If he got done within 20 minutes or more of the time we had to leave for school, then he got screen time, which he was never ever allowed in the morning before school for obvious reasons. And it worked like magic. It was the only checklist that ever worked for him. He was the kid that would take the checklist on the dry erase and just put all the check marks and not even read them.

Penny Williams (23:25): This one worked, this one was I can do these things and I can get them done. And once you succeeded at that and started earning that reward right away, that was just more motivation. he was like, Oh, I really could do this. I really can have screen time every morning before I have to go to school and I'll tell you after like nine months we lost the checklist and we didn't need it anymore. It's routine and it's been the same routine every morning since he was like seven then I think that's another way to work smarter as routines.

Laurie Palau (23:58): Apps. I was just going to say I think that's a great illustration. I, I'm sorry I didn't mean to, but I think it's a great illustration and I always say think about, well I can only speak for myself, but most women I know at some point in time have tried to lose weight or be on some sort of diet. And if you, all of a sudden if you're like working really hard and you're either counting your calories or carbs or fats or whatever you're doing and you are not seeing results and you're working really hard and this is like taking up a lot of time and energy and all the things and you're not seeing results, all it's going to do is result in frustration and you're probably going to rebel and say, screw it. I'm going to have an ice cream sundae and a cookie or whatever.

Laurie Palau (24:44): Again, speaking from personal experience, but if you are all of a sudden find something and you're noticing the weight's coming off, even if it's slowly and you're starting to say, my jeans fit a little more comfortable, or and all of a sudden you're starting to realize, okay, maybe I'm doing this work but it's paying off. I'm getting the result, it's worth it. Then all of a sudden you don't need to count calories or write down, keep a food journal. Because after a while you're knowing like, Hey, when I do this, this is the result. if they had the ness and it becomes habit, it becomes routine. So it's that motivation changes the behavior. And so if we are, if we are deflated and our motivation leaves, then that's really hard to change that behavior. And I think that's a big deal for people when it comes to kind of working smart. And the other thing I was going to set a was low hanging fruit. Keep it simple. And I've done things with parents where I say put the cups and plates super low where your kids can reach it, even if that isn't where it should belong, have open from bins or post pictures, make it simple for them to have these wins because then once they can start realizing that they have control an impact, then it frees up your time and bandwidth. So you could be a better parent and you can work smarter.

Penny Williams (26:26): Yeah, it's amazing that when we start letting our kids be themselves, it brings a lot of relief to us. There's a lot less stress and anxiety with that. instead of kind of fighting against something that we can't change, we're accepting and we're figuring out how to live with it and live well with it. And that's the whole crux of parenting is teaching our kids how to have a happy, successful life. And that can look completely different for every child. That there's more than one way to do things. a lot of kids with ADHD and even autism have very rigid thinking, very literal thinking. They only see one way. And we often do that to our kids ourselves. We say, well, this is the best way to do this. You should do it this way. And it doesn't necessarily work for them.

Penny Williams (27:21): something we've battled for years is the school at the beginning of the school year, you get a list of supplies that each teacher wants, right? And they have a very specific idea of how their students are going to be organized and how they're going to work. And for a few years we'd go out, we'd buy those supplies and then that would quickly fall apart. And I learned after a while, okay, I'm not buying what the teacher wants because we've tried these things and they don't work. I'm going to go to the teacher at the beginning of year instead and say, this is what works for my kid and this is what we need to do and get their buy in for that. there was a lot of color coding or there'd be a separate notebook and folder for each subject.

Penny Williams (28:09): And that did not work for my kid. He could not manage more than one folder and binder. He had one binder with everything in it and it zipped up. And that was as much as he could organize in a moment was just getting it in there. And then we worked on sorting it out and figuring out what goes where and what we need to do once he got home and we started working on other things. So really being open to letting them lead and to trying lots of different things and them not working right. He know we could try 10 different ways that doesn't work and we have to not give up. We have to not say, well that means nothing works. Yeah, absolutely. I literally wrote down while you were talking, it's a, it's a matter of trial and error guess and it's a fluid process.

Penny Williams (28:59): It's going to change. It's going to evolve based on circumstances, based on the teacher, based on the age, based on so many factors. So even if even if a particular process worked at one point, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work indefinitely. There's gonna come a point where we may have to tweak it or pivot or just abandoned it all together and find something else. I mean, you talk about school supply list and all the things where my daughter was in elementary school now, now the elementary kids have more of a one to one device, but back when they were younger, they still worked off of a paper planner. And again, that was a great system

Laurie Palau (29:42): For my older daughter. But my younger daughter, either a, didn't fill it out or B, when she would fill it out, she would leave it at school. So what good is that doing when I be like, well, what do you need? What's your homework? Right? So again, we need to come up with a system that, and this was before every kid had a smartphone, right? Like this is 2009 so it was okay how can we get her to know? Because again, it wasn't that, at least in my case, it wasn't that she wanted to fail or not complete assignments or do things. It was just the way that it was being structured wasn't working. So again, the whole working smarter was, okay, this paper planner is not working smarter for her, right? This is actually causing more anxiety, more stress, and it's being counterproductive.

Laurie Palau (30:34): So how can she work smart? How can we put this on a Google doc or, or on a home my homework app or whatever, fill in the blank works so that she can be independent. I am not a helicopter parent, no judgment to anybody who does. But my goal was always to empower my kids. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge mama bear advocate. I will always advocate for my kids, but hopefully if I was able to get to a point where I could teach my kids to advocate for themselves and depending on where your kids are on this spectrum of being neuro typical or atypical, they may or may not be able to do that. But if they are able to do that allowing them to say, this isn't working for me, this isn't working for me.

Laurie Palau (31:29): And here's why. Because that is what's going to help them and also I another thing that I've said to my kids over the years, both of them but obviously specifically for my younger kid is try to come up with an alternative solution that you think might work if you can. Right. Because they might not know. The teacher might not know, but if you can say this isn't working but this might go there with the solution if you can, and again this is something that will come with time, this will come with age and this is something that has to be within the realm of what your child can do. But giving them the ownership I think is so important because once they have some skin in the game, then they work smarter. Like once they know that they have had a hand in making this possible, they are more inclined to see it through. At least that's been my experience. Yeah. And my son right now is like, he's decided, I guess at the beginning of junior year really that he had one year left to become an an independent adult.

Penny Williams (32:40): He has decided that once he turns 18 he must be able to do everything on his own. And so he's been very resistant of any help from me for months now, which is kind of maddening for me because all I want to do is help and get it done right. And I'm having to really remind myself that the more he feels in control, the more buy in he has, the more likely he is to succeed at it rather than this push pull that we've been in. And we talked to his therapist about this almost weekly that he hasn't shown me that he can really do it totally on his own yet. And so that's been the rub is it's great that you want to do it and that you want the control, but how can I help you be able to do that successfully?

Penny Williams (33:31): I want to give you the tools or be the safety net or whatever it is and he's just got this all or nothing sort of idea. Like the day of my 18th birthday, it's all up to me and it's been quite a conversation about that. But I've learned over the years, the more I give him control or even the more he feels like he has control, even if he doesn't really. And what I mean by that is like giving measured choices. I always talk to parents when kids are younger, give them measured choices. Do you want to wear this shirt today with a shirt today? Not go in your closet and choose something because they're gonna choose a tank top and flip flops when it's three feet of snow outside, right? If we give them the moon

Laurie Palau (34:20): Or they're going to spend an hour trying to decide. Right. So, yeah, so I think there's a lot of things, so I actually have a lot to say about what you just sort of talking about with your son. Awesome. Yeah. So I think first of all, I've walked this walk, so I totally hear you. One of my daughter's like biggest phrases is I've got this. Like I say, I want to have it like on a tee shirt. she's like, mom, I've got this, I'm not this. And I love that level of independence. But when I would then like rewind, right? Cause she's a junior too, but rewind to like say ninth grade and she's like, mom, I've got this. Well then I look at your grades and you have like a day. Well clearly you don't got it. like clearly you don't either you don't understand the material or you're not completing the assignment, like you're doing it but not turning it in.

Laurie Palau (35:14): So clearly I've given you this kind of long leash to do it and it's not working. So we need to figure it out. I think first of all, kids as specially as they get older and they get into those teen years, first of all, I love the fact that he's wants to be independent, right? I think we all want, right? We all want to independent kind functioning members of society. Like, at least that's what I say. that's what I kind be a functioning member of society and that's what's important. So the fact that he wants that and he has that internal motivation, that's great cause you can't coach that. Right. It's real hard. It's really hard to coach lazy or motivated. And I may look like that on the surface, but not totally. Oh absolutely. Oh yes. The other thing I was going to say though is there becomes a level of pride and ego that I see with kids and just trying to take advice from your own parents versus an objective third party person.

Laurie Palau (36:21): Even if it's the exact same advice, they're just as likely to listen to somebody else or if it's their idea. Correct. Absolutely. And so the fact that even if what you're suggesting has merit and value, and even if it would work for him, like even if what you're saying would actually work for him a lot of kids have this pride where it's like, no, I want to figure it out. Like you said, he knows he has it in his mind that he's gotta be able to figure this out on himself and so he's going to just shut that switch off. And so I know with my own daughter, the switch to distance learning was difficult for her in the sense that she's an introvert and she likes being on her device. And so that part of it wasn't hard, but she is in a learning support class and academic support.

Laurie Palau (37:20): Basically it's like a guided study hall. And so every day she has that and she worked with her case manager and just go through prompts it, I mean she was totally fine with the content but it was just prompts like, do you know what you're doing? Like do you know like what homework you have, not what you're doing. Cause it was just making sure that she was staying on task. Well as soon as I moved to this distance learning, she didn't have that. She didn't have those daily prompts and she had left third marking period with almost straight A's and which she had never had before. Like that was not so she had made this, all of these huge strides and then all of a sudden I got an email from one of her teachers and you know as kids get older you get less and less.

Laurie Palau (38:12): Yeah. So I was getting an email from a teacher like, don't forget you have to turn in and it's like this 10 missing assignments. So I'm like, okay, here we go again with the, I've got this. And it's like, no you don't. And so I had reached out to her case manager and I said, listen, she needs this redirection. She needs those prompts. And I, first of all, I don't know all the assignments and I don't want to know all the assignments. Like that's not what I want to be doing. I said, I don't know all the different places to look. If I ask her if she's doing it and she's saying, yeah, she thinks she is, but she's missing this whole other thing. So I said, I need her to go back and have, even if it's not daily, I need her at least twice, if not three times a week to be having you check in, even if it's for 15 minutes with her to make sure that she knows what she's doing.

Laurie Palau (39:06): Because what you were doing prior to this was working clearly. Right. And so they started doing that and all of a sudden my daughter keeps me and she's like, I don't feel as overwhelmed. I feel more confident. I feel like I know what I have to do. And it was just a matter of me setting the prompt with the, with the teacher in terms of expectation and now all she needed was this little redirection to just make sure and having that external accountability from somebody other than her parents for her to be able to then help navigate it. So again, knowing is your kid going to respond? Who is that other person? I'm a big, it takes a village person and I am not the best person to help her in all these situations. I'm her mother. And I love her, but some of this stuff's like above my pay grade. Like I am not the best one to help you with that. You know? So who is like in that and that's what I think is important.

Penny Williams (40:12): Yeah. We had a bunch of the same system. My son was supposed to check in with us, special ed case manager before he left each day and make sure that he knew what to do and had what he needed. And of course that system was not working for us, but because a lot of times she would ask him and he would say, Oh, I don't have anything. whether he knew he did or not. And a lot of times he really didn't recognize or remember that he did have something there was a breakdown there. Yeah.

Laurie Palau (40:42): And that's what happening here. But her, in our case, her case manager works very closely with the teachers and knew exactly what she had to do. So but yeah, cause that, that's the problem is I would my husband, I would say, what do you have to do? And she would answer honestly like I'm done. I did it and really believe that she did.

Penny Williams (41:05): And that goes back to the communication piece. being very clear on expectations, being very clear on instructions, written instructions that's something that we've asked for for years and years and find it hard to get because teachers are so busy and it's hard for them to then write extra instructions for one student. But that real detailed clarity helps our kids succeed.

Laurie Palau (41:32): And I think when you also want to talk about goal setting is finding things that really showcase that your kid's abilities, whatever that looks like. I know in our case, my younger daughter is very musically inclined. She's not she's not your big team sport raw person. Like my older daughter is and she's, my younger daughter's a little bit more of like I don't want to say she's a rebel, but like she kind of beats to her own drama. And so we got her involved in music classes through school of rock. And there was a lot of quirky kids that were, they were, I always said, not only is my kid not in the box, she's like on the box jumping up and down. Right. and so to understand like whether your kid is interested in coding or your kid, your kid is interested in music or your kid is interested in writing or whatever it is, to be able to find that and we don't always know what our passions are, but like if you can find something that you like, that you're good at because that you want to do as my job as a parent was to try to help her find that.

Laurie Palau (42:46): And again, like the other stuff, it's a lot of trial and error. Oh, we tried, this wasn't right. We tried that. We would see it through for that season or whatever. But then when you get that and you find whatever that air quote that is that also is something that helps with moving the needle and being able to, being able to work smarter as opposed to saying, how can I do these things? Because when things come naturally to you and you find whatever those gifts are that you can chat all, you tend to work smarter organically. Yeah. Harness what you're good at and you totally support what you're not so good at. Let's wrap up by talking about some of your favorite tools, organizational tools or organizational strategies that you think would help families with ADHD. Okay. So for me, a digital shared calendar is huge.

Laurie Palau (43:43): I mean, whether you choose, we use Google cow at our house, but whether it's Google account, I Cal cozy any of the above ones. I think having that is great because when I was younger I used to manage it and I'm a color coder and so every body in the house has a different color. And so she could easily see what was expected. And, and if you're not a digital person, you could have a big whiteboard calendar. Like it doesn't have to be digital. I like having a digital calendar because I think it's easier to make edits and then everyone can have it on their device. But we also, she has a whiteboard calendar in her room and we have for her own personal stuff that she has to do. So I think just being able to have that is a great tool.

Laurie Palau (44:31): I think a shared family calendar is great because we all, if you are trying to work as a unit, I think it's important. So that's my first thing. Okay. Again, we're talking about life skills. I'm a big app person, so we have a grocery app that we use, right? We use any less. There's a billion of them out there. I don't get paid by them. It's just one that we use that we like and you can share that. So my kids and my husband, like, we all have access to it. So it's owning that process of if you're the last one to finish the milk, then to put it on there? And if I don't drink milk and you drink, or if you finish cookies and you notice I don't eat cookies, so I might not notice that we're out of 'em.

Laurie Palau (45:20): So if you, you need to kind of have some ownership of that. If you want me to buy Oreos, you gotta make sure they're on the list. So for me, I think we all have so much on our plates in terms of responsibility and mom guilt and whether we work outside the home or not outside the home, that the more that we can delegate to our kids, we're not only teaching them the life skills, but it's allowing us to have that margin and increased bandwidth to be able to be better humans. Yeah. So again, so I think that's a great, that's a great tool. In terms of other things, I mean, anything that you can use that's going to be a good tracker so again, I'm big on either checklists or spreadsheets or just list making. And if you're a pen and paper person, that's fine.

Laurie Palau (46:18): For me it's organization, which is a pretty big and broad term really comes down to the ease of retrieval. So what's going to be the easiest place for you to find something if you need it. And for some people that might be in a notebook and for some people that might be on their laptop. So find whatever system works for you for the ease of retrieval. If you are wasting time looking for stuff, that system is broken. Yeah. What's going to be the most efficient and effective. What about just kind of corralling stuff and finding stuff? Do you have any insights there? Well, sure, absolutely. Like if you're talking about the physical stuff, the basic zoning principles of putting Lake with light is great. Again, I don't know how kind of micro you you want me to get, but I, I think making things easily accessible is really important.

Laurie Palau (47:15): Not having, having stuff that's in kind of your most current rotation available to you. And if you have the opportunity to remove stuff that you're not using, that wearing, not playing with not whatever and either donating it or relocating it to another place, it makes it easier. So if you're talking about clothes, if you have the opportunity to remove your seasonal clothes, you're only looking at what you are currently wearing makes it a lot easier to find what you're looking for. It makes it easier to get dressed in the morning. It makes it easier to put your clothes away and it gives you that, that mental space space, that visual space. So I think that's great. And the same could be true for any room in the house. We used to have what was called, I called it the homework hub, which was basically a vertical filing system where my kids were able to keep their school notebooks or books that they kept at home or whatever it was, so that they always knew that it was there.

Laurie Palau (48:21): And that was the first place to go to look, let's say, let me just say it wasn't always there, but that's where, let me rephrase that. But it was, that's the first place that you're going to go to luck would be the hallmark hubs. So having very clear defined spaces and have it easy, right? Make it super easy. And this could go through for like adults, right? This isn't just for kids. If you pay your bills and open your mail in the kitchen, find a place to keep a shredder underneath the cabinet. like don't overcomplicate the process, keep it because it should be right. So get a portable filing bin for downstairs as opposed to letting stacks of paper pile up until you go up to your office. So I think it's about making it simple and really again keeping like with like and some people, again going back to processing some people like to zone things by color. Some people prefer by category, some people by date, so it's finding what is going to make sense for you.

Penny Williams (49:28): Yeah, one of our big zones as the door coming in and out of the door, we've always had hooks, a big hooks for coats, small hooks for keys. There's a spot to put your shoes right there. There's a little table top with a basket and a plate where you can put little items like sunglasses or whatever. There's baskets that can be pulled out of the closet for winter with gloves and hats. One basket for each family member, like this is where your backpack lives, which is under that little table right by the door because otherwise we'd spend hours looking for lost things and so when you have a zone, I love using that word. I hadn't thought about it. When you have a zone for different things, it makes life a lot easier. And it takes the question, the thinking through out of it, it just becomes habit. it's habit for us to walk in the door and put the code on that hook to put the keys on that hook. We don't even about it anymore because we've made it so easy to do.

Laurie Palau (50:30): Correct. Absolutely. And I think again, it always goes to making it easy. I've talked to a lot of parents I'm a big hook person as well and some people are like my kids just drop their stuff. Or even like a lot of parents will just come in and they'll just drop their purse or their keys and designating that drop spot and making it easy. So if putting something on a hanger, and this may sound crazy, but of putting something on a hanger is an extra step, remove that and just put hooks in your closet. like there's so many different ways that you could streamline that process. I also have this unwritten rule of, it's like the two minute rule. If you could do it in less than two minutes, don't procrastinate it, just do it. and again, these are things that sometimes we all need to be reminded of as well.

Laurie Palau (51:19): you're busy, you're doing a million things and you drop your coat, you drop your purse, you drop your keys, your sunglasses, whatever. And it goes back to that whole leading by example and creating those simple systems that are going to work. And then the other thing for me is really kind of setting the boundaries with your kids. What's a nonnegotiable? What are kind of your family values, your family rules, what, what are the things that you're going to have a little bit of leeway on and what are the things that are like, no, this is, this is a common space and this is what you have to do. And those kinds of family values and rules are going to be different for everybody. For some people it might be you need to make your bed in the morning. Other people might say, I don't care if you make your bed as long as you hang up your code and put your dishes in the SIG. So it's understanding what's important to you and what you're willing as the adult to say, I'm going to give you space here for your own personal expression, but in these areas you need to kind of live by my rules.

Penny Williams (52:30): Yeah, absolutely. And again that goes back to clear communication. Really. We're defining expectations very clearly and then you can meet them if an expectation is really vague and you're not sure, how are you ever going to meet it? Just really some ball. And I think that's really the key is simplify. Everything we've talked about is being as simplistic as we possibly can to make it as easy as we can for success. And that zoning I think is, that's a big one for us. It's been a big one for me is keeping like things together and keeping different areas for different tasks. we have a coat closet right inside the door. We don't use that. Nobody was going to open that door, take out a hanger and hang up their coats. The kids just weren't going to do that. So we put hooks on the wall outside of the coat closet, which seems insane, but that's what was going to work.

Penny Williams (53:27): And so the coat closet holds out of season stuff. Stuff that we just rotate in and out. I think out of sight, out of mind is often an issue too for people with ADHD. I was going to say specifically for, for kids with, with ADHD, it absolutely is. And so I've worked a lot with, when I'm organizing a space with my child or with other people's kids with do you prefer, do you like to hang it? Do you like an open cubby? Do you like to see it? Do you want it in a drawer? You can get clear front drawer. So if you do want something in a drawer but you still want to be able to see it, there are closet solutions out there where you can have it be accessible. So again, the goal about organization is not about putting it away, it's about retrieving it when or it's not only, I shouldn't say about putting it away, it's about knowing where to go and not having that clutter pile up.

Penny Williams (54:27): So what's going to be your bias? What is going to make it easy for you to do? What is it, what is this? Like you said, the simple strategy to make that work. And I'm always leery of giving this is what to do because again, what works in your house might not work in mine so. Absolutely. but I think you need to have that. It needs to start by having that communication. Yeah. Yeah, that's key. And being able to shift as parents being open to doing things different ways. I'm certainly a put it behind a door I don't want to see it. I want it just as clean, streamlined, visual. And I had to kind of give that up and say, okay, we really need to see stuff. The kids need to see their stuff.

Penny Williams (55:14): And so out came all the hooks and all the stuff on the walls, right, because that's what we needed and I would much rather them have what they need and be able to be independent and functioning well than to have the aesthetics that I want. Someday I'll be able to get back to that. But I really appreciate you sharing your time and wisdom with us on this episode of the podcast. I want to let everyone know that if you go to the show notes at parenting, ADHD and autism.com/zero eight eight for episode 88 you will find links to Lori's website and social media, her podcast, which is simply be organized as well as ways to work with her and any resources that we have mentioned here in this episode. Any final thoughts, Laurie? The only thing is, and thank you for this, thank you for giving me the opportunity and the platform to share. It's the only thing I was going to say it was my podcast is actually called this organized just if

Laurie Palau (56:24): Somebody goes, yeah, no, it's totally fine. Yeah. So the business, our business is called simply be organized and you are correct. And that's if you go to my website, you will have tons of, I've tons of free resources. I've got free checklists and downloads for people specifically for kids all summers for adults. But I've a lot of resources for kids on there as well. Or parents to help kids. And yeah, and my podcast is this organized life. So obviously if your podcast listeners hop on over, we'd love to have you in our community.

Laurie Palau (56:56): Yeah, absolutely. And thanks for clarifying that. And I guess that's it for us. I'll see everyone on the next episode.

Outro (57:06): Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parenting, ADHD, and autism.com

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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