My Daughter: A Work in Progress

I admit that as a child, a teenager and a young adult I was a hot mess when it came to keeping my room tidy. As an adult, I still struggle with picking up after myself but make a strong effort to be organized and have come a long way from the days of my youth.

I can remember occasionally as a child coming home from school to the wonderful sight of a clean room. My mother, no doubt, spent the whole day working her ass off transforming the disaster into a neat and tidy form. I am certain this was not an hour long process and I am sure that this is why it was not done frequently. I can still remember the labels that she placed on the outsides of my drawers in an effort to get me in a system and help me become organized.

While my Mom made a gallant effort to get me organized through out the years, I believe my main setback with being orderly was that she did these huge tasks while I was at school. I am sure it was much easier for her to tackle the mess without my help (as I would surely object to everything she would try to do) so I certainly can’t blame her for working alone. But because she did work alone, I was never properly taught the how’s and why’s of organizing space by myself.

It has taken me years to become an organized person and over time I’ve turned quite obsessed with books, articles and tips on how to live simply. Organization doesn’t come natural, so I have to work very hard in finding and maintaining systems that do work, for me.

Oh and how the apple does not fall far from the tree!

I noticed a very long time ago that my daughter was a very unorganized carbon-copy of me. After years of being disgusted with her room I decided that every 6 months I would go into her room with her and do a total gut and reorganize.We would leave no corner unturned and no item out of place. I created this ritual with her in hopes to teach her a few things:

  1. Organization
  2. Purging
  3. Cleanliness

Now I am going to show you a few pictures of my daughters room…

Okay, so by the looks of the pictures you are probably wondering when the heck is she going to put these skills to use.

Yes, the photos are bad, but I have to say, I was actually quite pleased with her room. I independently went into her room to begin the 6 month clean out routine while she was at school. I planned on assessing the damage and getting started but figured before I even put a dent in the job she would be home from school.

In each of the clean outs there have been less and less items that have been dug out of the drawers, corners, bags and boxes and placed into trash bags. In previous purges we have left the room with multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE… 11… 9… 5) bags of trash. We have, in the past, taken up to 2 days to get her room in order but over the past few years the days have turned into 1 day, then 9 hours, 5 hours and then yesterday, 3 hours.

Had I been moving correctly, I would estimate that it would have taken me (by myself) less than 1 hour and I only filled a small plastic bag with trash. Nope, not a trash bag, only one small plastic bag from a clothing store!

This to me is progress and firm assurance that my system is working!!

Sure, she still has a way to go before being completely organized and systematic, but I cannot stress enough on how much of an improvement this is from where she was 3 years ago.

  • Natalie no longer hides things the way she once did!
  • She keeps her collections in the containers I had previously had her set up!
  • She hasn’t started any new collections!
  • Aside from her clothes, accessories and stuffed animals she pretty much puts things where they belong!

So, because of her obvious effort to keeping fairly organized, I wanted to reward her in some type of way that wouldn’t involve me spending any money. She has been working on putting photos into picture frames that she buys at the dollar store and has been talking about creating a photo wall.

For a few months now, Natalie had the frames she’s picked up, so far, filled with photos but we hadn’t had the chance to hang them up on her wall. I decided I would help her along in her project and get her started.

I laid out all of the frames on her cleared off floor, and when she came home from school yesterday, I received her approval of the arrangement.

This morning, I traced all of the frames onto paper and numbered both the paper and the back of the frame.

After I cut out the traced form, I copied the pattern onto the wall, taping each cut out with the numbers towards me. I used painters tape so it wouldn’t peel off the wall paint.

Once I was satisfied that everything was in proper form, I inserted picture hanging nails through the paper and then hung up each picture.

Lastly, I removed the papers after each picture was in the correct place.

This is the first time I have used this method for hanging pictures on a wall and I have to tell you it was easy as pie!

I think this is a great start to build on and it is so nice to have all of those frames off of her dresser!

And here is a photo of what it looks like to walk by her room now…

The last thing I want to say is that if you haven’t noticed I didn’t post a picture of the inside of her closet. This is because she will be tackling that bit alone this afternoon. I have full faith in her that she will do it correctly and I just know she will make me prouder of her than I already am.

UPDATE** I knew she’d make me proud:

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25 thoughts on “My Daughter: A Work in Progress

  1. Oh my. What a great post on so many levels.
    1. awesome organising and you are clearly having an effect on her and timing of the big sort out is cutting down!
    2. big sort outs = ok. I am 24 and still always pile up my floor until I can’t see it and then sort it. (and i’m a very organised tidy person generally just not when it comes to putting my clothes away!)
    3. the photo wall – great and gorgeous! we do this in our spare room, i may post soon to show you how it grows… i love that a collage photo wall can mean you have any old frames an that makes it even more charming.
    4. what a wonderful mother you are!

  2. Thanks so much! I was very intimidated by the mere thought of a photo wall but it was really very easy and definetly a lot of fun. I do hope that you will post yours! In still terrible about putting my clothes away once they are clean or if I stay up past my bedtime but hope to master that someday. Thanks again! ❤ oh! And the seventy three was just the number of the task on my list! Lol I couldn't think of anything too creative so I figured that was a safe bet haha

  3. Growing up, my mother was a neat freak to the Nth degree. She cleaned my room for me, made my bed, scrubbed my hair, all because she didn’t have the patience to teach me. I am by nature, now, a complete slob and have to remind myself and look at Martha Stewart photos in order to clean. My daughter’s room: its a pigsty. We clean it together once every couple of months, trash bags in hand, and I make her suffer through it right along side me. I’d rather be my daughter’s teacher than Martha Stewart. 🙂 Your daughter has a sweet room…and those pictures are perfect! Awesome job!

  4. You and I are on the same page and I bet our girls will reap the rewards as adults for the way we are teaching them 🙂 thanks for saying the photos are nice I am happy with them and she is too! I first titled this my daughter: the slob. She wasn’t very happy and as the post took shape and I realized how well she’s progressed over the years I changed the title. When she read the post I know she was happy with herself the way I am with her and that means so much to me. Cheers!

  5. My mom was a super tidy/clean person and our house always looked spotless. I never really thought much if it back then, never even realized how much effort was required to keep the house spotless every freaking day. Then I grew up and realized two things; it is so hard to keep a clean house and I never learned how to clean. I still suck at cleaning and most days the house is somewhat messy. I love that my mom did so much for me growing up but i kind of wished she had made me do some cleaning on my own so i would have developed those skills. So I just have to say that your daughter will be in such a better place than I am when she grows up. Good for you! Mom of the year!

    1. It is so hard to keep up with all of the cleaning, between work, cooking and other grownup duties cleaning is one of the toughest jobs! I crave so badly to have a spotless home! I’m kinda glad I can’t keep up with it all, not only am I teaching her life skills but it’s been a great way to spend time together, working as a team. I’ll have to get her to help me clean out the attic though because this time her room was quick and we didn’t have much to do together. Lol I will love that, not sure she will though haha

  6. Such a cute room to work with! I think kinds are just (in general) more messy than grown-ups. Although, my fiancée and I have gotten pretty messy ever since we sent our cats home to the States…it’s kind of sad really… Oh well. I do love your daughter’s room. I would have loved to have had it when I was a kid.

    1. You are so sweet! It’s very hard to keep up with everything, don’t feel bad about becoming messy, you’ll get back on top of things soon 🙂

  7. I love it! I have NO cleaning skills, or time, but that is just it, I have decided- making the time. We need to book ourselves cleaning time, or else it will never get done. My boyfriend will be much happier if I do that. His mother died when he was 5, so he had noone else to do it for him, so he has always done it all himself. But, you leading by example, as a team- I think that’s fabulous, and I love the photo wall! I usually just hang them all up, one by one, and hope they fit! Ha!

    1. Haha we talked about this at your Mom’s house last weekend! It is so true about cleaning time needing to be scheduled. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just 15 minutes (or thirty for me now lol).
      I love the photos you have on the wall, do you remember me asking about them? I can’t just throw things up, I wish I had your eye. I need scientific evidence that it will look right when I am done. I’ve had way too many mishaps with trying to hang things on the wall! (Read: Look Dad, No Holes! … if you don’t believe me)

  8. Oh Ginger you struck a cord…
    My mum is known in the entire family for her amazing organisation skills and she was exactly like your mum..she did everything for me..organised my room..cleaned up the messes..organised by books..everything.
    It has been a true struggle to get a game plan to keep things organised in my own home…I print out articles and check lists and read tips..the whole nine yards..
    and when I see my daughter’s miss I freak out..I worry that she will turn into another me!
    Your post gave me hope! thank you..
    and I have to say that picture wall is so beautiful..I have been planning to make one for years but have always been intimedated by it….you did an awsome job

    1. I was very intimidated also, I am glad I took a chance and got it done though! It was really very easy with the cut-outs, I definitely suggest it! I wish I was known for being organized and extremely tidy… maybe someday we both will be! I hope our daughters will be also! If not at least we make an effort 🙂

  9. You are a wonderful mama! You are teaching her such a valuable lesson. I too struggled with the same issues as a kid, and much like you today find myself in a constant battle with organization. My mother did not take the kind approach you or your mother did. She would take everything , and I mean EVERYTHING and throw it in a pile in the middle of my room. I then had to find a place for everything, without help or guidance. I hated that.
    Natalie’s room is gorgeous. I love the sharp contrast of the white and blue, and I know you did this 🙂 what a fantastic room!!!

    1. Wow, that must have been extremely overwhelming. I know when there is too much clutter I don’t know where to start. Usually I pick a corner and go from there. I also throw everything out. I don’t like not having a place for things so if I don’t have one it’s trash. My kids have learned that I will throw everything out so they don’t bring too many things home anymore 🙂 Thanks for the compliment on her room, I wish I could decorate my whole house like this but it is very girly lol Isaac would go insane haha

  10. Aw, what an adorable room – it’s practically out of a magazine!

    I can toooootallly relate. I had THE WORST room ever! It was like, Clean House or Hoarders messy. There was no floor – only clothes, papers and books to walk on. I had liquids in cups in drawers with plant life formed on top. Ugh – I can’t believe I was ever that disgusting, but I was.

    I’m about 50% better now and still working on it.

    The room looks great – you’re a great mom – and you both should be proud.

    1. You totally made my day for that comment, I certainly have never heard that before and it thrills me to tears!

      When we first started doing the 6 month clean out it was because Natalies room COULD have been on Hoarders. She loves things and trinkets and had a hard time letting go of things. I am so glad she finally uses the trash can or skips on what she wants to bring in the house!

      I’ll always be a work in progress, I’m right there with you girl!

  11. I love this idea and think I will put it to the test with my teenage son. He’s 16 and I am certain his dresser drawers don’t know how to close—that sit there wide open as I the overflowing close are staging an escape. Ty!

    1. Thanks, Geni, although it may be a boy thing… My son always leaves his drawers open, whether they are full or not! It makes me looney! I still will need to figure out something for him, maybe auto-close drawers? Haha thank for commenting, you have a lovely blog 🙂

  12. I so wish I did not have to protect my anonymity b/c I could post 5 similar pictures of the kids bedrooms. They have, SHOCKINGLY, cleaned up 3 days in a row -and made their bed (boy style, but hey, it’s an effort!) while the house is on the market. This is TOO FUNNY.
    PS. asthetically, your site is a fun to look as as your writing is to read! You are ALMOST motivating me to bake again. Or just eat the delicacies right off the screen!

  13. My mom never touched my room. Not because I wouldn’t let her, no, she she just wouldn’t. I never had kids, but if I hadm I would probably be in there fixing things just like you… Love that picture grouping by the way!
    Lynda

    1. Thank you! I’m rather impressed with how it turned out.. Normally I just end up putting huge holes in the wall and unevenly spaced frames lol thanks for returning the visit and commenting 🙂 it’s nice to meet you!

  14. This post made me smile! Not only does your daughter let you go near her stuff but she also has enough confidence in you reorganizing her room!
    After reading this, an image of my teenage years popped into my head and I had to think about the many fights and tantrums (yes, door-slamming, foot-stomping, yelling – in short full-blown tantrums!) I had once I discovered that my mother had entered my room and just made my bed or “misplaced” an item (which was her attempt to put it back in place, of course). To my credit, I do have to admit that I consider myself rather organized, though. But, hey, it’s impressive what you have made out of her room and how fast you managed to sort things out. The picture arrangement was also very nice. Up until now I didn’t realize how some people are struggling to learn how to become organized because my sisters and I were taught to be neat from early on. Different families, different traditions. I’m sure your daughter will come to appreciate what you have been trying to teach her once she moves out and has to be more independent. So bravo to you!

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