A Different Perspective (That Time My Child Out-Organized Me!)

posted by Andrea | 03/14/2019

We went through the older kids’ clothing a couple weeks ago and purged anything that was worn-out, too small, or that they just didn’t like anymore (it seems like kids change their minds every other day — or maybe it’s just my kids!) 

NOTE: Since we buy 99% of all our clothing from thrift stores for roughly $1 per item, I’m truly OK with purging anything my kids decide they don’t want anymore.

Anyway, after we finished our mini purge (it took all of 20 minutes) I put the bins and hangers back into their shared closet. As I was putting Nora’s bins of pants, capris, shorts, and skirts back on her shelves, she looked at me with a sheepish look that I KNEW meant she wanted to say something but didn’t know if she should. 

Our conversation went as follows: 

ME: I put your black, navy, and grey pants in this bin and your pink, purple, and aqua pants in the other bin… OK?

NORA: yeah… but…

ME: This way, you can grab neutral colored pants from one side and colorful pants on the other. That works right? 

NORA: yeah… but…

ME: I also put your bins of shorts, capris, and skirts on the higher shelf since you won’t be wearing those for a couple more months. 

NORA: but mom…

ME: Yes? (finally giving her a chance to talk!)

NORA: I wouldn’t organize my pants like that…

ME: Why not?

NORA: Well… I would put the black and the navy in separate bins and the pink and purple in separate bins so that I don’t need to wonder if I’m grabbing the right color when it’s dark. I would put the black, grey and pink pants together in one bin, and then the navy, purple, and aqua pants in the other bin. Since the navy and aqua blue are together, I’ll always know which bin has navy. Can we do that?

ME: Wow, that’s a really good idea… why didn’t I think of that!?

NORA: {Big cheesy gap-toothed grin!}

Needless-to-say, she is now in charge of organizing her own clothing as she apparently has some pretty good ideas! 

No, it’s not perfectly organized or folded in any specific way — but it WORKS FOR HER and makes it easier for HER to choose her clothing and keep her part of the closet neat and picked-up! 

I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t come up with that solution earlier as we’ve had several instances where Nora grabs the wrong color pants on accident and doesn’t realize it until the morning — when her brothers are still sleeping and she can’t go back into the room to get different pants. 

In my mind, it made sense to keep neutral colors together and bright colors together as that’s how I choose my clothing (I have blue and black jeans in one stack and colored pants in the other)… however, that’s not what worked best for her. 

As I’ve mentioned dozens of times before, there is not one “right” or “wrong” way to organize a space — whatever works best for the user(s) of that space at that moment in time is the best way to organize the space. 

And as the user’s needs changes, the organizational system needs to change as well. Since Nora now picks out all her own clothing without my help, our system needed to change accordingly. She has a hard time telling the difference between black and navy, and she came up with a very simple solution. 

Good for her! 

A Different Perspective: 

Years ago, when I did in-home organizing, so many of my clients told me that the most helpful part of working with a professional was having a different perspective to help them “see” simple storage solutions that were literally right in front of them… but yet not “visible” for whatever reason. 

I understood what they were saying (and I know it’s true) but I honestly never experienced it in my own life until this instance with Nora. 

I’ve always been able to come up with simple, workable, practical, usable storage solutions for any area of our home — and to be honest, the kids’ closet is VERY organized and user-friendly. However, this one simple suggestion from Nora made their closet just a little bit more user-friendly for her! 

Oh, I love it when there are simple solutions to organizational issues! 

The Moral(s) Of The Story:  

Sometimes, a different perspective is REALLY helpful.

There is never any one “right” or “wrong” way to organize a space.

Kids are pretty darn smart! 

I suppose if I ever get back into the home organizing business, Nora can be my new assistant! 

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Filed under: OrganizingHomeClothesKids StuffChildren

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23 comments

  1. Gramma CC

    03/21/2019

    So many benefits for Nora that go beyond the simple organizing of pants… confidence in expressing her opinion, being listened to & acknowledgement of her idea. Win!

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  2. Laura

    03/15/2019

    Out of the mouths of organizing babes. You’re very smart to recognize what works for her vs. what works for you. You took her ideas seriously and showed her you were willing to change – a wonderful thing for a child to see a parent do.

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  3. Wendy

    03/15/2019

    Great job, Nora!

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  4. Lori

    03/14/2019

    Love it! It’s always so encouraging when kids take ownership of their things. And… it can be tricky for mom to relinquish control. You did great!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’m so happy I listened to her and let her do it the way that made sense for HER. I definitley don’t always listen so well though πŸ™‚

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  5. Rebecca G

    03/14/2019

    A lot of moms might have over ruled her. That you value her ideas is undoubtedly a huge confidence booster for her!

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    Andrea Reply:

    well it took her a few tries to finally get me to listen — but I’m glad I did!

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  6. Heidi

    03/14/2019

    I’m in the middle of this same issue with my 9 year old daughter too. She’s that kid who is crazy book smart but common sense is definitely having to be directly taught. πŸ™‚ Her room is ALWAYS a mess and whatever system I set up for her never seems to work. This past weekend, we did a major purge and cleanout of her room and put it back together in an order that worked for HER. We’re going on a week and it’s staying relatively clean. I finally came to the conclusion that her brain just doesn’t work the way mine does and her stuff isn’t my stuff so it’s going to be okay. πŸ™‚

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    Andrea Reply:

    good job mom! The thrill of a newly organized space is often very exciting for kids. Hopefully she’ll keep it neat and organized longer than a couple weeks!!

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  7. Abbie

    03/14/2019

    The apple didn’t fall far from the tree!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — nope, she’s definitely MY daughter!

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  8. JJ

    03/14/2019

    Excellent critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills, Nora! Fantastic job listening to Norah and encouraging her!!! She will remember this when she’s an old lady. Haha!

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  9. Kim

    03/14/2019

    I love this!

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  10. Ashley

    03/14/2019

    Love this, love that she thought of it and knows what works for her πŸ™‚

    We do this with my husbands dress socks, black on one side, navy on the other with tan/brown in between.

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is exactly what I do with Dave’s socks too! Great minds think alike! πŸ™‚

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  11. Ann

    03/14/2019

    Good job, Nora! You go, girl!

    Sometimes, I tolerate a *problem* then later, when I find a solution, I ask myself, “Why didn’t I address this sooner?” Sometimes I fail to stop & assess what could be done!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yup, exactly! We should have fixed the black/navy pants issue SO long ago. We could have avoided many grumpy mornings because she chose the wrong pants the night before!

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  12. Chris

    03/14/2019

    Oh, I bet she would love being your assistant! πŸ™‚

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes! She’d most likely want to carry a clipboard too πŸ™‚

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  13. Trina

    03/14/2019

    Thank you for sharing! I love this for so many reasons. First, it shows there’s more than one way to do things. The β€œright” way is the one that works for you. Next, the the sense of pride you have in Nora is evident as she you share this story and see her step up and (nicely) challenge the status quo. I’ve been reading your blog for years so I feel proud of Nora for speaking up! That can be hard to do as we love our parents, but I love seeing her grow up and take agency for herself. Thanks for sharing your family with us!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes… just a little bit of mama pride going on here πŸ™‚

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  14. Christina

    03/14/2019

    I love this! She had a great idea and I love seeing kids take ownership over their routines. Also, she’s adorable.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Christina!

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