Helping a Spouse/Relative Understand Why Their Family Member Needs An Organizer

Helping a Spouse/Relative Understand Why Their Family Member Needs An Organizer

Sometimes when a person says they want to hire an organizer, they are met with objections from a spouse or relative who complains why the person can’t do the decluttering themselves and keep things organized. Sometimes it is cultural pressures that impose an expectation that the wife must keep an organized home or else she is a failure as a wife. Or, worse, relatives sometimes threaten to hire a dump truck to shovel all the clutter into the trash and throw it all away. And, some spouses give ultimatums, threatening divorce if the clutter isn’t dealt with by a certain date.

Some spouses/relatives express concerns over the money, saying it is too expensive to hire a Professional Organizer. Some get angry at their spouse/relative saying “it is ridiculous that you need someone to help you organize; why can’t you just do it yourself instead of paying someone?”

Let me tell you, they can’t. Period. They cannot declutter on their own and need help from a professional. Getting angry, insulting them, putting them down, and all those other negative reactions only serve to make the person feel bad about the situation and horrible about themselves.

Let me tell you why they can’t. And, by the way, you will be paying one way or the other.

There is something called chronic disorganization. This disorder is where people feel they are constantly drowning in clutter and have felt this way their entire life and see it continuing for their future. It is where they have tried different things to get organized but none have worked, and they can never complete anything. It is often seen among people who are extremely creative and/or highly intelligent. Organizing to them is a mundane task that doesn’t fit into creativity or highly intelligent realms. It is sometimes seen in people with ADHD or OCD. It is often a result of missing the executive development stage of childhood; it is known as executive function disorder. You cannot fix executive function issues. They are a part of the physiology of the brain. You can learn to accommodate or adapt, but you cannot repair this problem. Missing this stage results in people being disorganized. When there is a failure in executive function, the person has trouble organizing, analyzing, planning, scheduling, and completing tasks. This is why they need help from a Professional Organizer. Some relatives criticize, shout, curse, and impose negative consequences on the person thinking the punishment will “cure” them, but it only damages the relationship, not clear the clutter. If you don’t hire a Professional Organizer, you may be paying in other ways. Let me elaborate.

Clutter is causing your spouse/relative major stress and anxiety. S/he is paralyzed by the mess. S/he is overwhelmed and is not functioning to his/her highest capacity. This clutter has been around for so long, has grown bigger, and is now causing emotional, psychological, and physical reactions. You may soon be paying for either his/her therapy sessions on an ongoing basis to deal with this stress or medical doctors and prescriptions to treat the anxiety or health conditions caused by dust, dirt, rodent droppings, poisons, and worse. Your spouse/relative may seek a therapist to complain to, to express his/her worries about the mess, how the family/spouse doesn’t take responsibility for their things and dumps them all over the house leaving the mess for the overwhelmed person to clean up, and many more complaints.

If it’s not the therapist, you may be paying for the spouse/relative to go to see a chiropractor or masseuse to work out the kinks in the neck, shoulders, or back because of the tension that never goes away from the constant clutter view throughout the rooms of the house.

The clutter could also be costing lost relationships. Spouses have divorced spouses over clutter because they cannot live this way; they can’t have business colleagues or friends come over as they are too embarrassed. Children have gotten very angry at their parents over their cluttered lifestyle because they are ashamed at the chaos and disarray that inhibits them from bringing friends over to play. Adult children have barred grandchildren from going to grandparents’ houses because they don’t want the grandchildren to see the mess or be around dysfunctional grandparents who live in hoarding situations like those shows on television.

If it’s not the therapist, chiropractor, masseuse, or lost relationships, there could be costs to pay for trash collectors to haul away the junk. Years of living in a house cause an accumulation of things that are not needed anymore, but no one is dealing with them.  Broken items, outgrown items, items you think you might use someday that still sit 10 years after purchase, or inherited items that come into the house from deceased relatives, will lead to paying $1,000s and $1,000s of dollars to trash collectors to haul away when you run out of room, need to move, are court or county ordered to clear out, or die. Your family will resent you for this cost. They, or your executor, will not take the time to sort through items to select for donations. The family or executor will be so frustrated they will dump everything.

Other ways that might be costly when the person can’t deal with the clutter is the costs of paying for alcohol, drugs, gambling, overeating, compulsive shopping, or other addictions that some people turn to when they can’t handle life’s stresses anymore. This is extremely unwise, unhealthy, and very costly in a variety of ways.

Other costs that one may incur may come from the IRS, Franchise Tax Board, debt collection agencies, or late fees on bills. When the receipt deductions, 1099s, W-2s, and other papers that are supposed to be submitted for taxes can’t be found or the taxes aren’t paid, severe penalties, late fees, and nasty letters or audits could occur. If credit card bills or utilities’ invoices that were supposed to be paid are misplaced and forgotten, lots of late fees will have to be paid and credit scores can be ruined. Getting into financial difficulties could lead to garnishment of wages, messing up credit scores and credit history. All this is very costly and one could be paying for years.

In conclusion, I hope you see that hiring a Professional Organizer may be your least costly solution. Professional Organizers come into the home and take care of the clutter problem. We bring solutions and help you save money in the long run. None of the other options described above come into the home and remove the stress-causing problem, turning the home into a peaceful sanctuary. Those other options are only costly band-aids. To find a Professional Organizer, you can search the NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) website. Refer to my blog for tips on what to look for when interviewing Professional Organizers. What Makes A Professional Organizer Professional?

Please research and find an organizer that specializes in the area that your spouse/relative needs help. There are specialists for clothes, moves, paper, art, photos, etc.

© Janet Fishman
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Janet Fishman, J.D., C.P.D.S., Professional Organizer, President of HOPE Organizers, Inc., obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern Law School, her Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Cal State University Long Beach, and her Associate Arts degree in Police Science from Mount San Antonio Junior College. She is a member of both the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and NAPO’s Los Angeles Chapter as well as the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She is also a Certified Paper Document Specialist and Certified Home Inventory Consultant through Family Documap. Janet is also a member of AADMM - the American Association of Daily Money Managers through which she has been background checked.

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