Ancestral Ties: Is Your Organizing Style Connected to Your Lineage?
Ancestral Ties: Is Your Organizing Style Connected to Your Lineage?

We all grew up with a certain amount of organization and clutter in our homes.

You either had a parent or guardian who was really messy or really organized or somewhere in the middle.

Are you still organizing your space in the same way that was passed down to you from your childhood?

Personally, I grew up with parents who had opposing views on organization. My mother always had everything in it’s proper place. The house was spotless, perfectly decorated and always clean, clean, clean. She was a stay at home mom and made the house her life’s work. My mother also never ever left the house without her hair done and her make-up on.

My father on the other hand was not organized whatsoever. His desk at work was always overflowing with towers of paper that looked like they might topple over if a slight breeze blew through the room. His nightstand drawer was a cacophony of paper clips, pens, receipts and loose change. His mess was generally contained to a few areas of his life and never bled out into other areas of our home - ever. My dad would mow the lawn shirtless, sing a Fleetwood Mac lyrics with all his car windows rolled down and had a soft spot for Costco deals.

Opposites attract right?

As a little girl, my mother showed me that having a spotless house was how life was done. As long as the house was “perfect”, the dishes and laundry were done, the fridge and pantry were stocked that meant that everything was ok. She was constantly in a state of motion. Always tidying something meant that she didn’t really stop and smell the roses, ya know? Her mantra was, “as long as it looked good on the outside then everyone will believe it’s all good on the inside.”

My father showed me a less stringent side of life. He was more of a procrastinate until he couldn’t stand it kind of guy. About once a month he would eventually go through his desk and get rid of more than half of the stuff he was hanging onto. He also never judged his mess or cared what others thought about it. He had such a strong sense of self and care-free attitude about how to live life.

In my personal organizing journey I’ve taken a few pieces from each of my parents and forged my own path with the rest.


If I organized and cleaned my house every minute of every day I wouldn’t be in tune with my feelings and with the areas that need my attention most. Obsessively cleaning and tidying is a really great distraction for some of us, while others may use the clutter as an excuse to not make commitments.

Here are a few questions for you to ponder when considering if your organizing style is influenced by your lineage:

  1. Do you find yourself holding onto things because you believe you might need them someday?
  2. Have you resisted getting rid of something because you fear you may not be able to afford it again?
  3. Are you holding onto certain items because you feel guilty about letting them go? These feelings are intensified if the item was a gift from a family member, ex-lover or friend, right?
  4. Have you held on to an item because you fear that you might forget about the experience if you let it go?

This second set of questions may support you in shifting your organizing habits:

  1. How would your physical body feel if your home was clutter-free?
  2. What would be the worst thing that would happen if you donated a gift you were given?
  3. Do you think you would feel more or less energized if you organized your home in a way that worked for your current lifestyle?
  4. Are you willing to take a few risks in your life to feel more freedom?
  5. Is it possible that some of the beliefs your parents had about clutter don’t resonate with you?

Ancestral healing begins when we honor and acknowledge where we come from. Without digging into our history it’s easy to bypass and blame our upbringing for how we “turned out.” Armed with a deep understanding of self allows us to shift our habits and adapt our routines to work with our current lifestyle.

Please keep in mind that change is possible but not always easy.

If you are working on decluttering and organizing, it can be very confronting and emotional. Make sure you are up for it before you start. Give yourself huge pats on the back, lots of positive self-talk and a reward once you complete a project. Organizing your home is a lifelong commitment, not something that you do just one time.  

What are some of the organizational practices you do the same as your parents?

What are the ones you completely different that how you were raised?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Lili Pettit
Contributor & Founding Member

Hello there. My name is Lili Pettit and I am the founder of Clutter Healing®, Inc. a professional organizing business dedicated to helping clients establish supportive environments both internally and externally. I have built my life around clearing out the negative and unnecessary, finding room for only what serves in positive and productive ways — both in the home and in the body. My positive attitude, clear logic, and focused energy gently guides individuals through a cleansing process to establish a sense of calm, clarity and consciousness in things we call home.

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