Organization is so much more than what we see on the outside. I am not denying that we all love the eye candy of a light to dark curated closet, or a decanted and labeled cereal section in the pantry (Jessica’s dream). However, ultimately, the goal of organization is that feeling that you get when you know exactly what you have and where to find it. The confidence you get when you know where and when you’re supposed to be somewhere and have everything you need with you.
Divorce Rx + exEXPERTS
Recently, Jessica, T.H., and I discussed the importance of getting organized in general, but specifically as it relates to those of us going through divorce. The three of us have all been through divorce, so we get it. I founded Divorce Rx by combining my professional experience as an organizer and former educator with my personal experience as a child of divorce and divorced mom of 3. Seeing how important organization was during my divorce, both the physical stuff and space as well as with calendaring and logistics, I saw the opportunity to help others. When planning for divorce, the tendency is to start googling and asking friends for resources – legal, financial, oftentimes mental health, and other areas. But what about the stuff, the household, and the logistics? Who will help you navigate all of these changes while you’re just trying to make it through the day?
Benefits of Being Organized
Being organized has a multitude of benefits, no matter who you are or what is happening in your life. It reduces stress and anxiety, increases self-confidence and self-esteem, and helps you save time and money. When your stuff and life are organized, it allows for a smoother start to your day, preparing you to face challenges more easily and improving your ability to deal with those curveballs that inevitably come up.
When divorce enters the picture, there are other unique benefits to being organized. It elevates your ability to parent on your own and improves your co-parenting. Evaluating the stuff you’re bringing with you into this new phase of life allows you to be thoughtful about the home you’re creating for yourself and your children. Yes, there will be grief and pain but there is also an incredible opportunity for a clean slate. A chance for you to build a home with a calm, beautiful vibe and positive energy that reflects your values and preferences.
Organizational Challenges in Divorce
Although the details of every person’s divorce are different, there are a few common situations that surface in most circumstances. In every divorce, at least one person is moving out of the marital home, and in many instances, both parties move and often need to downsize. So what happens to all of that stuff that accumulates over the course of a marriage? Many people throw their stuff into storage units, store things at the homes of friends or relatives, or use attics, basements, or extra rooms as dumping grounds. Their stuff ends up scattered and money gets wasted on storage units and on buying things they already have but can’t find.
Another universal situation that comes up with divorce and organizing is that of the new logistics and calendering of co-parenting. These are uncharted waters for everyone, and even if you’ve been divorced before, the specifics of your family look different and you will need to work with these new particulars. Oftentimes people don’t know what the details are, and are unaware of what questions to even ask. When you’re going through a divorce you may not have the clarity to figure out what the best options are for each situation. People also want to know that what they’re doing is ok, and validation from a professional is very helpful. Together, my clients and I talk through the scenarios that will arise and proactively address each situation and solution.
Involving the Children in an Appropriate Way
Divorce is emotionally draining and challenging in so many different ways. When children are in the picture, there are many more considerations and logistics. Oftentimes parents are afraid that the divorce will be devastating to their children and want to pretend like it isn’t happening. Although this may be understandable, it is not reality and therefore not in the best interest of the child. I encourage people to involve children in the process of downsizing and rebuilding a new space in age-appropriate ways. It can be healing for them as well and allows for open and honest communication and expression of feelings. As you start sorting through the stuff, make sure you consider their viewpoints (on relevant items) before dumping everything into the trash or donate box. Ask them what they might like to keep, what holds meaningful memories for them, don’t assume you know the answer. This simple gesture shows your child that you respect their opinions and their feelings and creates a beautiful foundation of trust.
The number one challenge I hear from people who know that they need to embark on an organizational journey but feel paralyzed to begin because of the feeling of overwhelm. Before our first session, I ask every client I work with to download their brains onto paper. Getting all of the tasks and responsibilities out of your head and onto paper turns the emotions into facts, which are much easier to manage. From that point, we create a plan of action and break it down into manageable bite-size pieces and timeframes. Then they schedule times for organization into their calendars like they would any other appointment and if something comes up, they reschedule. This commitment and accountability make all the difference in moving forward and gaining momentum!
Remember, getting organized is not about a pretty room or color-coded calendar. It’s about the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment you get when you start chipping away at your organizational challenges either alone or with help. Your day-to-day life will run smoother and you’ll have the time to relax, exhale and spend time doing what is nourishing. And that’s what we all want.