I think I was born organized. I am certainly wired that way, but is it really innate? My mother is extremely organized and so maybe I just inherited this behavior. She taught me and I learned. But my kids did not. What went wrong?
One theory is that while I attempted to show them, in their early childhood, I did it for them. Yes admittedly, I was the human vacuum and was famous for clearing a room or a dinner table, and taking out the trash before they even had a chance to whine about it. I enabled them. Looking back, shame on me.
School mornings were a nightmare; the rejected clothing that never made it onto their bodies were strewn all over the floor like a battle field. And what did I do? I picked up all the clothing, re-folded and rehung before they could wrinkle, and before they got home from school. I couldn’t help myself. Ditto for the playroom; I cleaned each night and they made a new mess each day. The mess was intolerable until one day I realized that I could merely shut their doors. Begrudgingly, my kids eventually followed my instructions but only with multiple reminders, an inevitable raised voice, harsh threats and stern warnings. They rarely did it on their own.
Now grown and independent, I notice that there is an inkling of my organizational nature buried in their respective apartments somewhere. The chaos and disorder rear their ugly head less and less as they mature. They have learned to be accountable for their own organization because it’s their space now. No-one else is there to clean up their mess. But has this been instinctual all along, or have I just drummed into their heads relentlessly? Honestly, they are still a far cry away from being super organized and often still clutter their spaces with little or no concern at all.
It’s clear that the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” theory is not necessarily a universal one. Studies reveal that children of hoarders don’t necessarily bear the same compulsion, and in fact some are inclined to live an opposite lifestyle. As with alcoholism, sometimes the patterns skip a generation. Unfortunately, there are those that do fall prey to stronger repeated patterns of disorder and addiction. Environment can be a powerful instigator.
So if being organized is a behavior that can be taught, then I take my chances that my future grandchildren will learn to manage their own stuff, because their parents still won’t want to clean up. And if it ends up that being organized is a natural and inherent behavior, and being messy skips a generation, it’s still a win-win.
Have you taught your children the fundamentals of organization? Is being organized a natural or nurtured behavior? Do messy parents breed messy kids? I’d love to know what you think.