Decluttering: Change in season offers opportunity to organize

October 2018 Posted in Community, People, Your Health

By Melissa Wagoner

“Whenever the seasons change is a good time to de-clutter,” Elyse McGowan-Kidd, owner of Kidd De-Clutter in Silverton said. “We are wired for change during the shift of the seasons. Each season has its own theme and therefore its own focus.”

Although McGowan-Kidd has been a professional organizer for only two years, she has been helping family and friends for much longer.

“I grew up with a grandma that made it through a war and had pretty strong hoarding tendencies,” she explained. “When she passed away, I remember going through her house and the sort of strain and stress it put on my mom and aunt.”

That event shaped McGowan-Kidd, inspiring her to look at her own belongings and to keep them both organized and at a minimum.

“We are so trained into thinking that having more is a representation of being wealthy,” she said. “But that is really not the case. Being wealthy and staying wealthy means that we need to be smart about where our money goes. Buying items we don’t need and storing them is literally throwing your money in the garbage. These things accumulate over time and it feels like holding onto items increases our value but it is like English ivy – noxious, time consuming to get rid of and it takes over everything.”

McGowan-Kidd’s experience is not unique, according to Judi Nagel, also a Silverton resident and co-owner of Jager & Nagel Professional Organizing and Downsizing Services, LLC.

“Their generation was the Depression generation so they found a purpose for everything,” she said. “You’re going to see a lot of kids sorting out their parents’ houses – and then you’re going to see the kids sorting out their own houses.”

In other words, Nagel predicts that those who have witnessed the work that goes into sorting out houses full of stuff aren’t going to put their own children through the same trauma.

“When people are in their fifties they start cleaning to the point where most of their house is empty so their children don’t have to go through that,” she explained.

“You can enjoy your retirement years and not be stressed,” Nagel’s business partner, Mary Ann Jager added. “It’s part of that transitional stage. We both have recognized that homey feeling of a few pictures, some furniture and just what you need.”

Although Nagel and Jager specialize in working with clients who are nearing retirement or older, they also work with younger clientele. Every stage of life has demands that require different organizational practices.

“New moms – it’s let’s get organization in place,” Nagel said. “Then empty nesters – it’s downsizing.”

The initial client consultations begins in the same way – by identifying the room, or rooms, the client wants to start with. For those without a clear beginning place, they recommend the kitchen and bathrooms as the most used rooms in the house – then the sorting begins.

“The first appointment… we only go so far because it’s overwhelming to have folks in your home, fussing with your stuff,” Jager said. “We just give them that grace to kind of ease into that transition.”

“People are sometimes embarrassed or ashamed of the things they’ve accumulated,” Nagel continued. “We understand the psychology behind it.”

Jager and Nagel gained this understanding several years ago when they met as psychology majors at Corban University in Salem. After spending much of their careers in the healthcare field they were both looking for something new that would utilize their degrees. That’s when they hit on the idea of professional organization.

“There’s a great deal of psychology around [organizing],” Nagel said.

“Oftentimes your environment is a reflection of what’s going on inside of your mind,” Jager added. “If you have baggage that you haven’t dealt with you’re going to have a harder time letting things go.”

McGowan-Kidd also sees organizing and de-cluttering as a way of dealing with emotion.

“[It’s] a way that I cope with stress and anxiety,” she said. “I had some pretty rough patches through divorce, going to school as a single parent and other stuff. Organizing, purging and de-cluttering was an inexpensive way to change my scenery and focus my energy somewhere positive.”

A recent client of Kidd De-Clutter related a similar experience when she enlisted help for her children.

“Having my kids home all summer has brought our lack of consciousness about ‘messes’ to the forefront,” the client said. “Every time I turn around there is something left out of place: a food wrapper that should be in the garbage, a toy left on the chair, a book left on the dining room table, etc. It seemed no matter how many times I pointed these things out to my children, nothing changed.”

McGowan-Kidd engaged the children to do much of the work, allowing them to make decisions and take ownership throughout the process.

“I think the kids, especially the older two, wanted to de-clutter their rooms, they just didn’t know how to start,” their mother said. “When Elyse came in, though, they knew she was the expert and listened to her advice.”

McGowan-Kidd and Jager and Nagel suggest that the real process of organizing begins with purchasing less in the
first place.

“De-cluttering doesn’t stop with taking stuff out of your home,” McGowan-Kidd added. “It really is a process that needs to lead to different spending habits, different expectations of goods in general. There is a big component to this work that develops into a heightened awareness of garbage.”

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