‘Why bark when you’ve already got a dog?’

Today’s headline is a quote from Peter Walsh, the Aussie organizer who hosts Enough Already! on Oprah’s channel and is featured regularly in her magazine, O. He appears in the June issue of O magazine helping a Chicago family de-clutter. (The article isn’t available on line, but you can find it on pages 64-67 of the magazine.)

As part of their organizing session, Walsh suggests to Cynthia Tobin, a stay-at-home mom of a 3-year-old and 6-year-old, that she stop picking up after her kids. It’s easier for her to do it herself, but Walsh says, “Why bark when you’ve already got a dog?”

Teaching Thomas, 6, and Lola, 3, to drop their toys into the new canvas bins in the living room will take time. But how will they ever learn to do it if they don’t get the chance? And I’d add that they won’t value the work their mom does to keep the house tidy and organized unless they play a role in keeping it that way.

That’s the organizer in me speaking. The mom in me–the mom of a creative, quick-thinking 8-year-old who’s totally indifferent to clutter–raises her eyebrows at Walsh’s suggestion, I must admit. My son is a kid who definitely did not inherit his mom’s love of organization, even though his disorganization often leads him scrambling to find his homework or favorite toy.

Adults have different tolerances for “stuff” and disorganization, too. One partner may be bent out of shape about the overflowing trashcans and stacks of unopened mail while the other just doesn’t see it. Literally. Teaching that old dog the “new trick” of embracing organizing is a huge challenge. Especially if the dog doesn’t want to learn.

In this case, the dog cannot be made to bark. All it will do is stretch out on the sofa (ignoring its cozy bed on the floor) snoring, while its human companion corrals chew toys.


About organizesf

Professional organizer June Bell (www.organizesf.com) combats clutter and chaos with sage advice, tested techniques and good humor.
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