The Mom Whisperer on Cleaning: Are you a Sunburst or Paper Doll?

Guest post by Vikki Spencer,

cleaningimages.jpgI have read volumes of books on organizing, dozens of articles on cleaning, met and interviewed a“cleaning/organizational” author in person, and surfed websites for systems that would promise everlasting organization. Here is what I know for sure about “messyness” – it’s very personal.

The personal-ness of clutter is the only thing that explains why we can buy books, read articles and still not have a place for unopened mail versus opened mail versus bills to pay versus receipts to save.

Here are 5 aspects of “messyness” to help identify the core of personal target areas that need clutter TLC – without reading volumes to figure it out.

Rat Packer: You love piles. You know where everything is based on what pile it’s in. This type needs a visit from the permission fairy either weekly or monthly to set aside time to sort piles. It’s not finding the right type of container, it’s all about scheduling time to do it.

Sunburst: Burst cleaners will let the mess go until a sunny day and then clean it all themselves or enlist everyone’s help in one big burst of energy. It’s always put off until a crisis point hits and then it’s all hands on deck until everything is done. This type of messy could benefit from a short 15 min. daily routine. Every night before bed, just get things into the room they belong. This will go a long way minimizing stress while still allowing for the Saturday power clean.

Paper Doll: Some moms can handle the general cleaning except the “paper” (mail, things to file, bills, etc.) If you don’t have a system for mail, create one that makes sense to you. Use folders labeled “To File”, “Bills”, and “For Hubby”. Five minutes of opening mail and placing it somewhere productive will change your life.

Project Runaway: Some moms find projects their nemesis. Whether it’s scrap booking or playing guitar or mountain climbing, the intent to do the project can take up a whole closet or a whole spare room. If you realize your project has run away and taken on a life of it’s own, it’s time to corral it. Make a place and time to really accomplish/ enjoy your hobby. Otherwise, get bins, storage, or space to keep it tidy and neat until the next session.

Perfectionist: For this type, everything has to go in it’s perfectly right place, labeled, and planned or else what’s the point? There is never enough time or space or correct bins. This type can benefit from choosing the battles wisely. If the kitchen “junk drawer” absolutely needs 5 containers to hold everything, then let go of keeping the landing space perfect when the kids come home. Choose what matters most and find success without driving yourself (and others) crazy.

Apply the above information to your life and begin to make it work for you. Learn you’re a pack rat? Ensure that everyone knows what’s in the piles. Ready to Burst? Experiment with 15 min. a day for a quick de-clutter. Discover your inner paper doll? Commit to 5 min. a day and a labeled plan. Projects running away? Lasso them and corral them where you can find them again. You’ll save yourself time reading about organizing and more time actually living it.

Vikki Spencer, M.Ed. is owner of, a personal development site for moms. For the last five years, she has been a professional life coach who supports moms to identify, create and celebrate change. She believes no one is “just” a mom and has been known to hold the Wii boxing title in the family.

1 Comment

  1. I am a rat packer/sunburst hybrid. Paper is taking over my life and I tend to let things go too far before I go into a cleaning frenzy! Thanks for the good advice and humorous descriptions, Vikki.

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