Organizing: Can Cleaning Closets Build Relationship?

Yeah, let’s whip this into shape!

I wouldn’t have thought organizing was an activity, or that by doing it, we could be working on our relationships, but it was and we did. However, my two daughters gave me completely different experiences of organization.

One of them, (not saying which one) had her ways and was very particular. You could take a look at her sock drawer, every pair bundled and stacked according to color and thickness, and you knew what kind of a kid you were dealing with. I couldn’t really say she was a collector, but she seldom got rid of anything so she had to organize to make the best use of her space. That is who she was at twelve, that is pretty much how she is today.

The other one only organized certain things, on occasion. We had some very sweet relationship building times cleaning her room. I would come in, sit down on the bed, if I could find it, and we would pick up one thing at a time and ask “where does this go?” Eventually it would all get into place. She loved a clean room but it wasn’t a necessity. She gives me credit for the quotable sentence “A messy room is not an indictment, it’s an opportunity.” For us, it was an opportunity to spend time together (and find lost stuff…).

Our times together organizing have a somewhat different flavor, now that we are all adults. When I visit them, we often go through closets, looking for things to fold, stack, throw away and give away. Those are hard chores that people tend to put off doing, but they are easier when there are two of us. We might even love going through kitchen cupboards, rearranging, and finding out what’s in there.

I especially like seeing all their shoes. Believe it or not, their shoe choices (and whether or not there are both a right and a left to be found) give me clues as to what is going on in their lives. Has she gone sensible yet, or is she really wearing those six inch heels? Has she been feeling the need for shopping therapy or is she okay? There are clues to all these things.

I am always making out pretty good after these organizing sessions. Both girls give me clothes they don’t want any more. That is the only reason I have anything from Nordstrom’s in my closet. But, speaking of my closet, I’m about due for some organization soon and plan to have that fun activity on the schedule the next time I get a visit.

By organizing and sharing our various ways of creating order, we have helped each other, we have been productive, we’ve communicated values, and we’ve spent time together. It’s been good for our relationships, and actually, we’ve found a lot of missing stuff.

8 thoughts on “Organizing: Can Cleaning Closets Build Relationship?

  1. You have definitely grown and learned some great skills. I am proud of your ability to do that! I agree and go a bit further – almost everything can be a bit of a spiritual practice for me, as in my P post.

  2. Can I add a little about organizations and the wonderful world of closets? I am that child who needed my mom to hang out with me while I cleaned, as I would get overwhelmed at the big picture and not know how to actually start the work.
    Fast forward to now: I’ve learned some important skills or methods to bring order to the chaos. And I’ve found it makes a huge difference in how I feel, and in my ability to focus on other things in my life. For me, organizing is a bit of a spiritual practice – it’s a way to bring awareness to the way ‘things’ both sustain us and at times exert power over us. I give a lot of credit to my background in retail (folding things ‘just so’), a brief period where I did personal styling and closet makeovers (matching hangers, keeping what’s out of season hidden), and reading/watching Marie Kondo for the philosophy and joy in tidying. I still have one room in my house that is chaotic – I have a lot of things from past versions of me that I am working on selling, gifting, or discarding. I’m okay letting that process have it’s necessary time. But I love opening my drawers and seeing all my shirts folded up vertically in rows, or looking at the light to dark color gradiant in my closet. The struggle against entropy is always real, but like someone famous once told me, “A messy room is not a judgment, it’s an opportunity.”

    The point of this story is that there’s a lot more to it than being ‘naturally orderly’ or ‘naturally messy’. I learned that my surroundings impact me dramatically, and also that I enjoy the meditative nature of organizing.

  3. Can I borrow you to come and help me organize sometime? In our family it is the opposite — may daughters sometimes come and help me with the tough decisions of what to keep and what can leave. I’m definitely one who has a hard time letting go.

    • All of us have that same difficulty, me too! It is so much easier to see what someone else doesn’t need and that’s why we help each other. I bet you’d be great doing for someone else. (But it is a great excuse to get daughters to spend some time with you. Good luck with that.) Thanks for reading!

  4. I envy your relationship with your daughters……you are able to use almost every activity to build your relationship with them. Carry on, my friend…..

    • Yes, daughters are a true blessing to me. You’ve got the idea – anything done with them can add or detract from the relationship, and I know which I want it to be… Thanks for reading and encouraging.

  5. Ha! My daughters inherited their father’s slop gene. Their messy rooms and closets were my anxiety rants.

    • “If I can’t see it, it can’t bother me” was my philosophy. I figured that’s what doors were for. Short of being a health hazard I let my kids keep their rooms pretty much as they could stand them. Worked for us. Thanks for commenting – I get it.

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