Mom Knows Best: Sharing My Mother’s Best Organizing Tip with You

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Like it or not, our mothers contribute greatly to how we organize, how we see clutter, how we manage our homes.  As professional organizers, we regularly encounter a mother’s influence in our clients’ lives.  Some have difficulty parting with their children’s artwork because their mother threw away all of theirs. Some clients fill their homes with way too much stuff because they grew up with very little. Others confide they were raised with no organizing training and don’t know where to begin.

Personally, I never considered whether my mum was organized but I definitely learned my “less is more” methodology from her.  Evacuated as a young child out of London during the Second World War, she grew up on rations.  To this day, I still squeeze the last gram out of a tube of toothpaste, rinse out my shampoo bottle to ensure it’s completely empty and meticulously scrape every last drop out of every can and container.  I never considered this out of the ordinary.  I simply modeled my mother’s behavior.

My all-time favorite tip gleaned from my mum, however, was the “One and only one backup item.” As soon as one item is being used, a new one is purchased as backup. Clutter accumulates from over-buying. Every week we work with clients who have multiples of the same item. The “only one back-up item” strategy has saved me from many a late night trip to the store, and because I’m not over-buying, our home is clutter-free.

But what, you may ask, do you do when the store is offering buy 3 for the price of 2 or—my least favorite—10 for $10? Well, it depends on the item. Ten boxes of pasta will cause major overcrowding in my pantry because we don’t have the space (nor do we eat that much pasta). Ten bottles of Pellegrino, however, gets drunk quickly.  Rules can be broken but for the most part, my mom’s method keeps our home neat and tidy. We know what we have and items don’t expire.  Genius! Thanks Mum!

Wishing all you Moms a very happy Mother’s Day!

Janet