Why are 99% of my clients women?
Being a mother of two elementary school kids and having worked in corporate America full-time for the last two decades, I understand the pressures and time-constraints of keeping a "nice home", being the primary point person for all the kids' needs, primary home-manager, shopper, chef, cleaner, scheduler, party planner...the list goes on and on. I understand the feeling of having a home full of toys, books, documents, furniture, clothes.....oh, the clothes! One year, for my birthday, I asked for my family to help me go through the kids' clothes for change of season and size. They thought it was an odd request, but it was the only way to get help without any complaining. That's not to say I have a lazy husband. He is very hands-on. I haven't made school lunches in probably 3-4 years - that's his job. He cooks a lot of dinners as I am a lifelong vegetarian and he and the kids are not. He is also a very tidy person, which I am thankful for. Life is just busy! Between both of us working full-time, work travel, kids activities, social/family engagements, it's just a lot and sometimes it can feel overwhelming.
Having said that, it's a fact that in the majority of cases women are the ones taking on most of the home tidying and decluttering projects. I think it's an extension of the mental load we women carry. According to the UN, women do at least 2.5x more unpaid house/care work than men. This unpaid work that we do supports economies and yet it's not even recognized as "work." Sometimes I think we feel guilty about wanting someone to step up and acknowledge that the tasks related to household or care work like decluttering and organizing, should be shared. When the mess or clutter doesn't bother other people in the family, it comes across as nagging when repeatedly bringing it up. Although, everyone likes living is a nice, tidy home, right? It doesn't happen magically! Someone has to take charge and it's usually the person who is most affected by it and statistically speaking, that's women. I have written about the effects of clutter on a person's well-being, most notably women. Check out that blog posting if you want to learn more about how clutter may be negatively impacting your life and what you can do about it.
Why is it then, that we feel guilty for wanting help to alleviate the stress and the workload? Just because the office paperwork is behind a closed door and not "bothering anyone", doesn't mean it shouldn't be dealt with and that it's not stressing someone out. Eventually, it will have to be addressed, so why let it continue to pile up and add to the mental load and stress we already carry? When kids need tutors or partners need golf lessons or a personal trainer, then in most cases, it's fully supported. You see, it will help with their development and who doesn't want to help someone develop and be their best selves? However, if help is needed to getting the home organized in order make things run smoother, then that is often seen as "unnecessary". Promises are made that things will get organized and everyone will pitch in, but where, how, or when to start? How about "later"? From what I have seen, getting organized and staying that way, is considered part of the job of running a household so whoever handles that, should handle this. Mostly, that's a woman's role to take on and "own", which is why 99% of my clients are women.
Have you seen that meme: "whenever my wife uses the phrase "I was thinking". That means I have to move, build, paint, or buy something."? I find that really funny, and yet, very true. It's usually the woman that instigates the home updates, unless it's something like a man cave.
I have noticed apprehensiveness by women who want to get help with organizing their homes, but worry that it's a reflection on their abilities or that the cost is seen as unnecessary. I believe women should be entitled to live in a home that they are comfortable and relaxed in. With everything else going on in life, being surrounded by clutter, without a comprehensive plan to tackle it, is just a build up of more stress. I understand how clutter builds up and gets shoved in a closet to be handled "later." The problem is, "later" isn't coming any time soon. See, whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, life is too jam-packed most of the time to make space for decluttering and organizing - and it all continues to build up. Doing a quick tidy is not the same as having a professional come in, do the work for you, and put systems in place to help you keep it that way. I heard something on a podcast recently and really loved the analogy: getting a professional organizer to come in to your home to get it where you need it to be, is like having a personal trainer who does the diet and exercise for you. You will get the results you want, without having to lift a finger!
If you feel apprehensive about getting help with your decluttering and organizing projects, just know that it's ok to prioritize yourself and do what you need to do in order to get more peace in your life. Also, be ok about asking for help! Being vulnerable is scary, but it takes courage to put yourself out there and ask for what you need. You never know, it could be the beginning of a whole new dynamic in your home! When things get too much, I know I have to advocate for myself and let the family know when I can't or don't want to do it all.
As a mother of 2 young girls I am also cognizant of the fact that they will be learning what they see at home. That's why I am ok rolling up my sleeves to fix the dryer that broke down recently (which I did successfully with my hubby), move heavy furniture around, change a car tyre, fix a leak under the sink, and let them know that before I met their father, I took a trip around the world, alone. I've jumped out of a plane, emigrated to a new country, and gone scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef - all of which could be deemed as "scary", but in the words of the great Beyoncé, "who run the world?"...yes, it's us - "GIRLS!"
I am signing off with a small hope that there are some men out there reading this and coming to some realizations that perhaps their partner is doing WAY more than their fair share. If that's the case, roll up your sleeves and take on more of the mental load, guys! You see, women already have to work hard at our day jobs, only to be paid less than our male peers, have less advancement opportunities, and less representation in executive-level management. Don't expect her to be Mary Poppins at home - making everyone happy and pulling out whatever anyone needs from that bottomless bag of hers. Our bags are not bottomless. 99% of my clientele being female is proof of that.