As a professional organizer, I often am asked about the state of my own home. “You must have the most organized home ever!” people will remark. The truth is I’m not always organized. In fact, these days I’m only “organized enough”, and that’s okay.
Some people claim there are two types of people: Type A or Type B, Extroverted or Introverted, Leaders or Followers, the list goes on. While other people utilize a whole inventory on personality traits and behaviors that categorize each individual as a certain type, color, or number. But, I like to see things as more of a continuum. If there is a continuum of “Extremely Disorganized People” (those who embrace clutter and chaos) to “Extremely Organized People” (people who have even their underwear drawer organized), I naturally prefer to be the latter. I’m a 10 on the organized continuum.
I’ve always been this way. I can recall peering into my sister’s bedroom as a child and wondering “How the heck can she stand sleeping in such a cluttered mess?!?” Eventually, my mom would force her to clean up her room before being allowed to play. I’d come in and organize it for her, mostly because I wanted my playmate back, but also because I didn’t mind tidying up after her. In fact, I actually enjoyed it.
Being organized satisfies my sense for control. It brings me peace not only to experience the process of tidying, but to spectate at my final result. Organizing and being organized is my zen.
However, as my life became increasingly chaotic, the idea of having a tidy house completely vanished. With two young children, it was simply impossible to control the clutter all the time. With certain strategies, I could manage it, even get the children to participate in keeping things tidy. But there were other days, days when our family was at its most busy, that I’d look at my house and wonder if a bomb went off. Even though it went against my personal need for order, I convinced myself it was a normal phase of life. That being “organized enough” was okay for now.
Then, when both of my children started to attend school, I decided to start a new career doing something I’ve always loved: organizing. I took courses, researched the field, and set-out to help other people conquer their clutter. I began to think, if I’m helping other people become organized, I must exude organization perfection in my own environment. What if someone came into our home when it looks like a bomb just went off? How embarrassing would that be? They’d turn me into the authorities! I must go back to being completely tidy... All. The. Time.
This went on for some time, as I frantically trailed my children during my free time trying to tidy our own space, pulling my hair out every time my children left their Shopkins all over their house. (I really hate those damn Shopkins.) But, with my new career, we were busier than ever. It was just too much to keep up with. Something had to give.
Then, I had a client with two young boys, a toddler and newborn. When she invited me to her house, she was visibly distraught. She needed solutions for her boys’ toys. I was able to help her get a system in order that made it easier to keep the toys in one area of the house and streamline clean-up time. But, I had to wonder if I really solved her problem. After all, I couldn’t change the fact that her children were too young to clean-up their toys, at least not by themselves. After our session, I had to have a frank conversation. “This system will help, but it won’t change the fact that there will still be chaos. You have two young children, so we have to have realistic expectations about maintenance. It’s normal for it to look like a bomb went off sometimes.”
After hearing my own words, I had to reassess my mantra. Was it okay if my house was sometimes untidy? Yes, yes it was. Because, as long as we’re “organized enough”, it was all going to be okay. There are still going to be times I curse to the air because I’ve stepped on yet another Shopkin, but I’m not expecting perfection. Because perfection is just unrealistic right now, or maybe ever.
So, to the moms, the busy professionals, or anyone in a chaotic period of life, as long as you’re “organized enough”, it’s going to be okay. Your home doesn’t need to look like it came out of a catalog. Take it from me, I’m a professional organizer, and even my house looks like crap sometimes.