There is no typical day for a professional organizer, says Linda Barlaam. Some days we are in garages, others in kitchens. Sometimes we are helping people pack for a move, somedays we are assisting a stressed-out mom to organize her playroom. That is what makes the job fun and rewarding.
Seeing spaces transformed by de-cluttering and organizing puts smiles on our clients and smiles on us. Yet, at times even organizers can have different points of view. Yes, we are trained to say and do the same things but different generations grow up with different experiences. Take for example my colleague Ben and myself. Picture a typical day in the kitchen as we help a client clear clutter and decide what to keep.
Ben: “gravy boats, butter dishes, I'm not sure people still use these.”
Me: “wait a minute, I do.”
Ben: “how often?”
Me: “idk, 2-3 times a year.”
Ben: “feels like I'm right.”
I make a face and remember Ben is in his 40’s, and I am in my late 50’s and we bring generational differences to each project.
Recently I ran into a neighbor who was complaining that her adult children do not want her home items which she considers keepsakes and valuable. As she prepares to leave her house of over 30 years she wonders what to do with all her china, crystal, silver and things which she has been saving from her own mother and grandmother. Many articles have been written about the younger generation not wanting their parent's stuff. Young adults live differently than our grandparents and parents. No one wants to polish silver which has been lovingly passed from generation to generation. People move for jobs more frequently and do not want to be burdened with large furniture and items which are difficult and costly to move. People tend to buy furniture at Target or Ikea. Parents work fulltime and need to make dinner hour easy with paper plates and plastic cups. Very rarely is china used or the crystal butter dish.
That being said, when events such as holidays come and the table is set with candles, silver, crystal, and china, it really does feel special as it should. Nothing gives me more pleasure than setting the table a few days before an event (yes organizers set tables very early) and stepping back and admiring how beautiful the room is. When my adult children come home and the guests show up, using the “good stuff” makes the holiday seem that more special. It is true that special occasions are only as good as the people in the room, but breaking out the pretty linens, china, crystal, and silver can only enhance the beauty of the occasion.
So the challenge is to find a balance. A balance between the past, present, and future. How to organize and keep things from our past but being mindful of the future. Of course having space may determine what you can and cannot take. Decide whether it is worth holding on to something or passing it to a relative, friend, or donating to a charity. Some tips we can suggest are to be gentle and kind when talking to relatives about what you can and cannot take. Remember even if it not meaningful to you it may have significance and history to your relatives. No need be rude or get upset, stay calm. Maybe compromise and focus on the small things. You might say, “I can take a few small items that are meaningful to our family. Maybe the silver? Maybe a small chair? Maybe antique jewelry?” You can pick some really important items that have personal meaning and can be transported easily. Try to remember that you may not use it now, but when you are older and have space, wouldn’t it be nice to have the beautiful dining room set magnificently for special times in your life?
Back to work,
Ben: “is this an ice bucket? Do people still...”
Me: “here we go again!”