Updated: Jul 29, 2020
I have a confession to make. I am not a perfectionist. I am not at all organized. Not even close. As a woman, that is really difficult to admit. After all, women of all ages pride themselves on how they maintain their homes, their level of perfectionism and how all their “stuff” is in just the right place. Women master the fine art of organization, establishing order and ensuring their households run like a well-orchestrated symphony. Not me! Open my extra bedroom closet at your own peril! I have always struggled with maintaining systems and keeping things orderly. Oh I try! I have a girlfriend who keeps her life enviably organized at all times who once told me that she probably spends less time in a week keeping her well put together life in order than I spend failing at keeping mine together. (The failure part
are my words, not hers). She has a process for everything and maintains those systems with a 100% rate of execution which allows her to spend minimal time enforcing her systems week by week. I on the other hand, don’t really have systems and the ones I do put in place, break down quickly. As a result, I spend more time just to tread water. Don’t confuse this with being lazy, (I’m not) not working hard (I do) or having a dirty house (it isn’t). My “inadequacies” are all about my lack or precision, systems and organization.
My husband and I were recently installing contact paper in our kitchen cabinets and drawers. As I was cutting the material, I found myself saying “close enough” when my edges didn’t quite meet up. I am pretty sure it would have driven lots of women I know nuts to see those uneven cuts and edges not meeting up with the corners. My husband jokingly said “I know what a perfectionist you are” as I was measuring and cutting. We both laughed at that notion knowing there was ZERO truth to his statement. Despite the joke, my lack of precision, organization and even order HAD been a source of shame for me, especially as a wife and mother. I think in part, I had always seen it as a character flaw, especially because of my perception of women as the driving force in keeping households well put together.
Women often talk about how every item has a place and their families always look to them to tell them where to find a needed item. That just isn’t who I am and it is not how my household has ever run. I would have been embarrassed to admit this in polite company years ago but as I have gotten older, I have come to EMBRACE this “flaw” in me.
My lack of organizational abilities is nothing new. In retrospect, thinking back to my childhood, I always was ineffective when it came to organizing my school binders or bedroom. I was a pretty easy kid for my parents and did very well in school so no one in 1976 was digging into the root cause of their 10 year old’s disorganization. Today, I suspect that same 10 year old would be diagnoses with Attention Deficit Disorder. (I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult) and a plan would have been put in place. However, those patterns were never addressed and as I grew into a young adult, I never learned the
skills to re-train this deficiency. It is at times difficult to discern between what is an inability to organize versus truly not being bothered by the chaos. When I was in college, my friends had keys to my room while I was away for the weekend. As a prank, they re-arranged my room while I was gone in the most disruptive way – bed in the middle of the room, night table turned on its side. I returned from the weekend, laughed at the prank and continued to live in the room left for me in disarray for the next month before I put it back together. It just didn’t bother me that much, strange as that may sound.
When my girls were younger, I was the type of mom who found it difficult to hold it all together. Managing a household, a job and all of the other demands of a family is never easy but I always felt like it was measurably more difficult for me than other women. I remember an acquaintance of mine (my good friends knew me better) once told me I looked like that type that had it all held together. I felt like a fraud because there was nothing about me that felt that way, mostly because I always struggled with keeping the household organized. I have memories of my girls in the morning, before school, climbing a pretty large, albeit clean, laundry pile searching for closely matched (no need to be exact) socks or shirt to wear…regularly. I hated that they would have thought that was in any way “normal.” I was always an engaged mom, I volunteered and supported their activities and school work but I was also that mom who was late getting the signed forms returned or I would have to run their lunch up to school because I “ran out of time” in the morning to make their lunch.
Now that I am older, I have come to terms with my “flaws” and like I said, I even embrace this in me. Sure, I am constantly asking my husband to call my phone, I don’t have one exact place for my keys and as I was just explaining to my girlfriends, (they thought it was bizarre) I just leave the vacuum out and plugged in – I am going to use it each day, why wrap it up and put it away. I don’t really sweat the small stuff in the house. Friends and family tell me they feel welcomed and comfortable in my home. This personality trait has always allowed me to step out of my comfort zone because I don’t have this expectation of perfection. My daughters remember the laundry piled high but they also remember how much fun they had at their birthday party with 10 other girls painting the walls all different colors and
designs since “we were going to paint it anyway.” It was a mess but they had a blast!
I am still working at systems but if they fall short, (and they will) I have learned to accept not to feel shame for who I am. Everyone’s version of organization comes in different shapes and sizes. Learn to feel comfort in your own version. Now, if only I could remember where I left my keys.
What do you do to maintain organization in your life and home or do you struggle with maintaining order? Stay tuned: In the coming weeks, we will have expert organizational tips and tricks to organize your home and life as well as ADD at any age.