Local home organizer Holly Southerland helps families tidy up
Spring is finally here. Time to open the windows, let in some fresh air, and clean out the home. But where to begin? When piles of paperwork, tubs of toys, and mountains of clutter have accumulated everywhere, it is hard to know where to start.
The Stam family of Ypsilanti needed help. Becca Stam is a busy homeschooling mom to three children: Franklin, 8, Eric, 4, and Amelia, 2. Her husband, Ben, is in medical residency at University of Michigan.
“Organization is not my strong suit,” Stam confessed. “I’m more of a creative type that loves beautiful things. Managing a home with three kids, teaching different ages, hosting people often, and running my small business was not adding up to a peaceful living space. I felt stressed just walking around my home and overwhelmed by all the things that were constantly out of place.”
Stam turned to Holly Southerland at A2 Home Organizing for help. “We love to help bring peace into families’ homes,” Southerland said. “Oftentimes, they are in accumulation phase or survival mode, and they have chaotic schedules.”
Southerland began her business in Ann Arbor in 2016, after moving to the area from Waco, Texas. She splits her time and her business between both locations, with teams in place to help bring organization and calm to the chaos. She also offers a workshop called The Sunday Basket, which teaches overwhelmed moms how to control their paperwork. “We create systems for families that help them serve their families, instead of being distracted by the mess all around them. It brings peace, it brings productivity. It also helps marriages and relationships between parents so that it cuts down on one less thing they are fighting about,” she said.
Clients often request help with pantries, play rooms, closets, basements, garages and home offices. “I’ve helped so many families create a command center so that they know what is coming and going, and when and why and how. They feel peaceful, they feel prepared,” Southerland said.
For the Stam family, Southerland was able to walk through the home with the family and ascertain how they were using the rooms and spaces. She asked about family routines and problem areas, then came up with solutions for efficient storage. “She not only organized our stuff, but taught me skills on how to be more efficient and productive with organizing,” Stam said. “I really think people should think of utilizing her not just to fix up a room or closet, but to really learn from her how to manage homes or businesses skillfully so things run smoother.” The lessons definitely had a positive impact on the family. “She really made me love living in my home and making the most of the space.”
The Trap of the Four Ps
Having trouble getting organized? You may be falling into the trap of The Four P’s. Southerland lists these as the main setbacks to getting organized.
Procrastination Putting it off for another day.
Practicality The thinking that “This is going to be practical or I might use this some day.”
Perfectionism The idea that “It has to be all or nothing. I have to get it right from the beginning or else it is not worth doing.”
Perceived Value The belief that “This is going to be worth something to sell, or I have to get this to the right person”, when in reality, we have to learn to let some things go.
Tips for Tackling Clutter From a Pro
Holly Southerland shared some solutions for common household storage problems.
“It’s helpful to know that less is more. Pick five or ten toys or sets that your child enjoys at that stage life, and keep them in a place where the child can access them. Maybe it’s in a bin or a bucket. IKEA Trofast system is a common system I set up for families where there are drawers that slide out as buckets that can be easily labeled with our signature chalkboard labels. We will often put a photo of the toy so that the child knows that is what gets put in that bucket.”
Kid’s papers and sentimental papers
Have a collection zone where you gather the papers over the course of a month that is out of the way, perhaps a box or bucket stored in a laundry room.
“Likely, you will want to keep things with your kid’s handprint or footprint on it, or something that shows their personally and really represents who they are.” At the end of the month, pull out those things that you want to keep and put them in a binder.
Display them in a binder with clear sheet protectors. This will allow the child to flip through the pages and enjoy their artwork that is displayed.
Take everything out, do a clean sweep, and spend a weekend deciding what you want and need, or what you don’t want or need for your current season in life or your immediate next season.
“A lot of times we think we need to keep things for the future. I encourage clients to think about their current season and their immediate next season. This will often eliminate unnecessary decision making because you know you don’t have space for it beyond what you use now and what you’re about to use very shortly.”