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People who use labelmakers: Uptight shrews or domestic harmony geniuses?

by respaced on January 26, 2011

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Yes, you can take labeling too far. 

?Do you cringe seeing labels on bins and shelves in other people’s homes? Do you instantly assume that homeowner is uptight, rigid and perfectionistic? Does it fill you with the urge to switch things around from their labeled compartments, just to see how tightly wound that homeowner really is?

I used to feel that same way. I thought only ridiculously overly controlling people labeled their stuff.

Then I had a child and started spending more time at home, which meant more time taking care of the house. And boy, was it irritating having a hubby fail to put things back where he found them after I had already spent hours cleaning up after a toddler.

And when I started my organizing business and started working with lots of moms, I saw they all had the same dilemma: she and I might spend hours finding “new homes” for all of the things the family owned, only to see the space clutter up again because the rest of the family failed to put things back in those “new homes.”

I quickly realized that unless you are organizing just your own things, other people will not remember the way you organized everything. And if they don’t remember, they won’t put things back where they found them. Without labels, organizing a family’s belongings is like shoveling snow in a snowstorm (thank Erma Bombeck for the imagery).

So now I use labels in my own home and in my clients’ homes with great success. Maintaining a home is much easier when everyone can agree where everything goes. Even children are more likely to put their things away if they know exactly where everything belongs.

I’ve discarded my view of labelers as uptight shrews, because I’ve seen the wonders that labels perform in creating domestic harmony in large households. If you are hesitant to use labels, try using just a few in a small corner in your home and see if it makes a difference in how well that corner is maintained by the rest of the family. Prepare to be amazed at how many squabbles and cold wars can be averted, thanks to the humble label.

Image courtesy of Goldberg at Flickr.

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