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Reality, Not Reality TV

Jennifer Caddigan, mother to Sydney (11), Hailey (10), and Chase (6)

“Organized”, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is having one's affairs or belongings in order so as to deal with them efficiently. However, I have learned through 20 years in business that ‘being organized’ can look different to different individuals or households.  In recent years magazines, TV shows, books, and social media have inundated us with visuals of tidy, organized, picture-perfect spaces. We see brightly lit rooms beautifully, yet minimally decorated giving us false hope and leaving us asking, “could a family of five actually live in that space? Where are the toys? The schoolwork? The Legos scattered in disarray mid-project?”  These photos show us lovely matching rattan baskets with fun labels in Papyrus font into which the family’s belongings are ostensibly stored, accessed, and returned. We’re made to believe laundry rooms - devoid of any actual laundry or gunky laundry spouts – can and should boast a nice, shelf with few neatly-arranged products and a lovely living plant. Perhaps the stagers and photographers of these magazines should give my house a try…

Let's face it: whether you have the organizing gene or not the life we have created in this day in age doesn’t always allow the time to set up or maintain systems that we may need to live efficiently. And, no matter how hard we strive, our homes won’t always look like the set from a catalog shoot.  A random free Saturday may allow for the weekend warrior approach, a tear through the garage attempting to create order. But it’s not enough.

What we all really need is a clean slate, to put life on pause and purge, sort, and create.  Create systems that work for all that will be using them. Clear out all the unnecessary or unwanted items, joy-evoking or not.  What we all need are spaces that run efficiently and require minimal maintenance so we can keep up day-to-day. From work to soccer, ballet class to PTA, and even throw in some family dinners.

So put those magazines down, turn off the TV, and make a plan.  A plan to create a space organized just for you. Whether it’s 2 full days in a row or 3 hours each week indefinitely.  Attack those spaces one by one. Purge, sort, and create systems.  Be gentle and patient with yourself through the process and keep in mind that the media crew most likely won’t be showing up but that’s okay because you can actually live in your space. 

And please don’t forget to donate, reuse, and repurpose.  

Jennifer Caddigan is the owner of Piece of Mind Organizing. She can be reached at 617-680-6905 or via email at

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