Many people believe that they can’t organize.
So, after a few failed attempts and hundreds of dollars at the Container Store, they give up. I mean hey, you managed to find a matching pair of shoes this morning so it’s really not that bad, right? Sound familiar?
But the issue isn’t that you CAN’T organize, or tidy. It’s that many of us never learned how. We were simply expected to know what to do without any framework or guidance. When we were asked to pick up our toys, it was expected that we know what to do, however for many of us “pick-up” wasn’t defined or modeled. Thus when we didn’t complete the task to the expected standards, the asker became frustrated and we were left feeling like we disappointed them, setting a negative tone for the next “picking-up” encounter.
Like a great many other things (talking, reading, kung-fu, tight-rope walking), organizing is something we have to learn and it takes practice! Nobody masters it the first time, it is a process – one that can start at any age. We just need to find someone to guide us. I have witnessed this first-hand with my own kids. When I ask my 3 and 6 year old to “clean their room,” they glance at the floor buried under a heap of toys, the unmade beds covered in Legos and they do what they think is best – which basically amounts to staring at the toys and possibly moving a stuffed bear onto the bed. The mess is overwhelming and when faced with it they shut down and give up overwhelmed. The same is true for adults as well!
However, when given specific instructions and a demonstration of what is expected, bam! – they can succeed. By rephrasing the request from “clean your room,” to “put your stuffed animals in the toy bin,” they are able to find a starting place and succeed. Suddenly the floor becomes visible, they feel good about their progress and the second request of “put away your Lego’s” is better received and understood. By breaking down the task into manageable pieces, and having a space for everything the job becomes doable.
Many of us were expected to know how to clean, tidy and keep our things in order, however we were never shown how!
As a parent when we show our kids how to tidy we are providing them with a valuable life skill. Create a system for your kids that is easy for them to maintain and encourage them use it. In our house we love toy bins because it is easy for my 3 year old – but find what works best for you. However beware of overly intricate organizing systems, most are lost on children and on adults as well! The system should be easy to maintain and simplify your life, not add to your stress level.
If you are older than 3 and 6 (which most of you probably are if you are reading this) don’t fret. You can still learn. That is the great thing about being human – our endless ability to learn, grow, adapt and change. Many of us might feel embarrassed or ashamed that we don’t know how to stay organized, however you are certainly not alone – and IT’S NOT TOO LATE!
It is important to start small and master the basics. And, once you have gained the experience and success in the little tasks you can tackle the larger ones. And as always, I am here to help!