Organizing Blog

The Organizing Gene: Did You Inherit It?


Sometimes the apple does fall very far from the tree. It would be so convenient if all mothers and daughters were born with the “organizing gene”. The reality is, only 10% of humans are born with the innate ability to create systems and maintain them. You know if you were born with the “organizing gene” because you tell stories of how you organized your brothers and sisters closets as well as mom’s kitchen drawers… at age 6! If you find yourself itching to organize a friend’s pantry or help them with their office, you know you have the “organizing gene”. However, the “organizing gene” is not the same gene as the “cleaning gene”. For example, I came out of the womb craving order and systems in my life. I love decluttering, creating systems and maintaining order. I do not like cleaning! I do it reluctantly. I have some friends and family members that clean like there is no tomorrow, but they can never find anything because they use a plethora of stash and dash boxes that get shoved in closets, under beds and the basement.

Don’t worry if you are not a naturally born organizer because this skill can be taught. Mothers can teach their daughters to maintain orderly environments by starting them out with age appropriate systems. The keyword is age appropriate systems. Toddlers through teenagers can maintain their rooms and help keep the house orderly if you teach them. Be very careful to not assume your daughter inherited your “organizing gene”. I do not think my daughter got my “organizing gene”, but I can definitely overcome that with consistent training and enforcement. I constantly remind myself of Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Maintaining order is a life skill that creates much peace and serenity when properly applied. Here are some key rules of engagement for helping your daughter get organized:

Rules of Engagement

Mothers Organizing Their Daughters
(Mother has the “organizing gene”/Daughter does not)

  1. Centralize Toys to their room. Go around the house and relocate toys and books to your daughter’s room. It is so difficult for toddlers through teenagers to find what they are looking for if it is all over the house.
  2. Minimize the amount of toys, games, gadgets, clothes and furniture. Too much stuff is overwhelming for children and they will always struggle with the age old? “Where do I start?” organizing syndrome. If you want your daughter to have any hope of staying organized you must help her reduce the amount of items that must be organized.
  3. Create Age Appropriate Storage Solutions. It is so important to implement age appropriate storage solutions for your little ones. For example, most moms do not put all their books in one big basket or bin, but they buy a huge basket or toy bin for their kids’ books. This is not a user friendly system for little ones. Deep bins are just a huge collection point that encourages the child to pull everything out because it is the only way they can find things. Show them how to use the storage solutions and clearly label each container.
  4. Respect your daughter’s personal style. It is so important to assess your child’s natural tendencies and desires when it comes to their room and the house. For example, is your daughter Left-Brained or Right-Brained? Left-Handed or Right-Handed? Prefer Hidden Storage or Everything Out? Your daughter’s personality and style matter to her and so it should to you. It is usually counter-productive to clean your daughter’s room while she is at school because you do not like how she did it. Give her some space and continue to lead by example.
  5. Teach and coach your daughter the Golden Rule of Organizing and be fun! A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place is the Golden Rule of Organizing. There is no place for perfection or OCD? behaviors in a kid’s life. Let your child be involved in choosing the homes for everything. You must have buy in to the organizing system and the best way to get it is to ask your daughter for ideas.

Mandy Pinkston, Professional Organizer, was born with the “organizing gene”, but she did not inherit it from her mother. It is always tricky for a daughter to teach their mother how to organize. Do you want to help your mother get organized? Here are some Rules of Engagement:

Rules of Engagement

Daughters Organizing Their Mothers
(Daughter has the ‘organizing gene”/Mother Does Not)

  1. Organize only after you have your mom's blessing to do so. (Remember, the belongings and space are your mother's, not YOURS! Most of us have routines and habits of where we put things, as strange as those places might be. When you come in and move everything around, it can be very disorienting.  
  2. Ask questions before jumping in. Find out from your mother what is working don't need to change that! If there are things or areas within the room that are frustrating, try to get good understanding why they are not working for her. What would she like her space to look like? How would she like it to function? 
  3. Respect your mom's values. Even if you think a collection of old greeting cards is not important, it may be very special to your mother. You might be a minimalist and your mother may be very sentimental. She may want to hold on to things that remind her of special people and occasions. Hold back criticism and judgment, and try to organize according to her value system.
  4. Be sensitive to you mother's physical limitations. You may choose to work together. Even if you can work from 10 to 12 hours a day, that does not mean your mother is interested or able to work that long. Many people can only organize for 4 to 6 hours since there is so much mental energy required to make decisions. Also, take into consideration that there is a lot of physical exertion when organizing--moving, standing, bending, and lifting. Be certain to take breaks and stay hydrated and nourished.
  5. Have fun! It can be fun to go through things together and hear stories of where things came from. Decide ahead of time what your goals are so you can help one another stay on track. Perhaps you plan on being very focused on organizing for 2 hours, then you take a break and tell stories about the things you came across.   

The Lord gave us each unique gifts to share with the world. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that "Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." If your gift happens to be that you were born organized, make sure you share it with the world. Remember to show grace and mercy to those who can never seem to get organized. I assure you that they have a special God given gift that you do not possess. Work out a trade of services and everyone wins. Do what you do best and let others do the rest…