How My Mother Made Me a Great Organizer

I often contemplate if organizing is a natural talent or something that can be nurtured. Like many things, I believe it is a combination of both, but in my case, nurturing played a significant role. My childhood home was incredibly organized. I was blessed that Mumm was a stay-at-home mom. Taking care of her family was her job and she was excellent at it. She should have been promoted every year!


My mother instilled in me the principle of leaving any space better than I found it.


From a young age, I was taught to pick up after myself and others as well, if necessary. If my brothers and I didn’t pick up, my Mumm would do it, and we became accustomed to clean and organized spaces. Everything had a place from furniture to clothing to paperclips. We had one junk drawer in the kitchen but everyone knew what was in it – stray rubber bands or batteries, that sort of thing. 



The kitchen was set up to be intuitively functional. Water glasses and plates were near the sink and dishwasher, so they were easy to get out and easy to put away. Pantry items were in their own cabinet with most used items on the bottom shelves and less used items out of the way. We had another cabinet with a tiered spice rack shelf that was never overcrowded.

If anything was out of place, Mumm made sure it was returned to where it belonged and I eventually picked up the habit. My brothers didn’t seem to care as much as I did, but their learned organizational skills presented themselves in other ways throughout the years. 



The counters were kept very clear. The two appliances I remember being out were a flat “hot plate”, kept to the left of the oven, to keep food and plates warm, and a toaster. Those were used daily so that made sense. (My mumm would make percolator coffee on the weekends only.) The other half of the kitchen was a dining area and also where we entered the house from the garage. My mumm put a row of large wood pegs by the door so we could hang up our coats and bookbags instead of leaving them on the floor. 



My mother constantly reinforced the correct behavior.


I think much of the time she did it for us, but always seeing spaces tidy made me want to contribute to keeping them that way. Muddy shoes stayed just outside the door on a mat. I remember just knowing that shoes should be placed neatly together instead of in a haphazard way.  There was a key hidden in a closet just outside that back door too in case we got locked out. Everything functioned well in my childhood home and I’m so grateful to my mother for being the force behind that functionality. 




My father, an engineer by profession, had his own style of organization and although his workbench appeared chaotic to me, everything had its place and he knew where everything was.


Both of my parents were fond of asking us “Where does this live?” when an item was found out of place.




Growing up in such an environment laid the foundation for my own organizational skills and instilled in me a desire to maintain order in my surroundings, but I firmly believe that the ability to become organized is within reach for anyone willing to learn the necessary skills and adopt the corresponding behaviors. With coaching, dedication and practice, one can optimize their spaces and lifestyles to achieve greater efficiency and harmony. If you lack the time needed to make this a priority consider what many busy professionals do, and consider hiring a Professional Organizer!


By Jennifer Dwight, Professional Organizer, Caregiver, Coach, NAPO Gold Circle Member and Team Member at Ideal Organizing + Design (IOD).

IOD is a devoted team of talented experts with decades of experience improving clients’ productivity and helping them love their spaces and lifestyles again. Read our team members’ stories of how they became among the industry’s most dedicated Professional Organizers. Send the IOD team a quick message, ask an organizing or productivity question, or get a free phone consultation by contacting us here!