Helping a “collector” organize

My organization finesse level:  
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

I love it when people comment on my organizational skills, because I’m NOT organized by nature. Since it’s one of my weak areas, I over compensate. I really enjoy creating calm out of chaos, but it can be a real challenge, especially when working with your mother.

Mom is a “collector.” Some might describe her as a hoarder, but she’s nothing like the people you see on TV. None the less, her collection of stuff flows throughout her lovely 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in a seemingly endless display of visual clutter.

I thought it might be helpful if she attended a class on organization, so last summer, I registered us for one held at our local community college. The instructor was fun and helpful, and provided a plan similar to what you’d see on TV.

Before you start sorting, get five bins, boxes, or bags and label them:

  1. Keep
  2. Sell
  3. Toss (Trash)
  4. Donate
  5. Recycle

Mom listened, took notes and asked questions. My hopes soared as I envisioned us sorting through stuff with lightning speed. However, reality hit a few weeks later when I suggested we get started. Nope, she wasn’t ready. I realized Mom didn’t need an organizer as much as she needed a counselor. The best I could do was just be her daughter.

What’s your organization finesse level?
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

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3 thoughts on “Helping a “collector” organize

  1. Linda – I am not an organizer, but I do go through and clean out the clutter every now and then, stopping just short of a satisfactory organized space.. Or least it will look clean and organized, but I am still frustrated with the level of something, I don’t know what..
    I enjoyed your story (and tips) but felt almost like the story got cut short.. Maybe it was just me.. How did you just “be your mom;s daughter?” Did you say something encouraging? Did you just let it go with the hopes of bringing it up again later?
    It’s funny you mention the show Hoarders.. I saw my first episode of the show last weekend and Chedric almost threw up from some of the “Scenes” in the show. You should have seen him gagging. Haha.. Anyway, I guess I gave myself some slack in the way or organization after watching since I figured my disorganization has never lead to unsanitary conditions (not to mention – we have never not been able to walk through a room). However, I was alarmed when some of the therapists on the show mentioned that usually hoarding starts and escalates when a traumatic event takes place.. the disorganization turns quickly into hording and chaos.. Eeks.. I am one traumatic event away from chaos..
    Love you. Can’t wait to read more.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Rachel! I’m sorry you felt it was cut short. I did have to back away and not be her organizer/counselor, but rather focus on just being her daughter.
      It’s tough to be organized when your kids are young – hang in there and keep at it. Don’t strive for perfection, just your own sense of calm.

      • Don’t be sorry, Linda – I guess, I just found myself wanting to hear the end of the story.. or the rest of it.. I have been loving your blogs.. makes me feel a little closer! 🙂

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