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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A few weeks ago my daughter and her husband had a baby girl. She is, Baruch Hashem, our first grandchild. My husband and I are walking on air. For a too-short week and a half I had the awesome opportunity to help out with our newborn, including night duty to help my daughter get some well-deserved sleep.

Not only was my time with baby very special and yummy, but also my time with my daughter was incredibly precious. Figuring out how to keep the baby comfortable and planning her new room was foremost on both our minds. Of course, we also made time to talk about mothering and I got to reminisce with my daughter about her birth and early years of her life.

Speaking of reminiscing, when our children were born my husband’s mother was there to cook meals and teach me about scheduling the feedings and journaling the milestones. My husband’s father was the one to clean the extremely dirty things around the house and garden until they were once again truly clean. My father was always available to do the home improvements and little fix-it projects that new dads don’t have time to do. My mother would make sure the babies had plenty of clothes, crib sheets and books. (I also want to mention our family was blessed to have wonderful aunts and great aunts who kept our babies well-dressed and well-read.) So, grasping onto what we so appreciated from our own parents, my husband and I set out to be as helpful as our four parents had been.

My husband kept a running list of projects to do around the house. I cooked some meals but most meals were prepared by my son-in-law’s mother, a skilled balabusta.

What was it that I most wanted to do for my daughter and my new granddaughter? Hint: my passion is organizing. So, three guesses and the first two don’t count. Yup you guessed it. My daughter and I hit the ground running and reorganized rooms and closets. Each day she chose the room she wanted to organize. During the limited hours of my granddaughter’s sleep, we hustled and worked hard. The baby’s room did not come first because she is living in her parents’ room for now. When we did get to her room it was a challenge because it was not at all set up. Both our family and my son-in law’s family don’t set up for a baby until the baby is born.

Soon after the new parents became engaged, my son-in law’s grandfather passed away. His parents generously offered that the couple could live in the grandfather’s house, since it was in the exact neighborhood they had been planning to live. Before the wedding, there was just no time for the family to go through the extra bedroom and move out all of the items. Actually, it could only help to have a ready-made guest room with a bed on an actual bed frame. In addition, there was art on the wall making it look like a sophisticated bedroom. This couple was adulting!

The day we began to turn the room from a guest room to my granddaughter’s room was special. We said goodbye to the mattress and steel bed frame. (A hearty thanks to my husband and our son for lugging it away and making it look easy as I sat and watched.) We took some of the paintings out of the room and put them in storage. We started a wish list of items that would be nice to have – different than our list of necessities. On that list we put posters and wall hangings. My husband put together the glider-rocker in the room, since it is a hard piece of furniture to move from one room to another, once built. That rocker made a large difference in transforming the room. The dresser drawers were mostly empty so the larger-sized clothes that the baby won’t need for a while were placed in the dresser. Her tiny current clothes were placed in a drawer in my daughter’s dresser. She is fortunate to have a triple dresser with nine roomy drawers, so she did not find it too hard to give up a full drawer. (Thank you, furniture-crafters, from the 1950’s for making quality wooden pieces with copious room.)

Since baby clothes do not need to be hung, we will leave that bedroom closet for a future day. What we did was to totally go through my daughter’s closet. Every new mother should be treated to a closet revamp. We separated all her clothes by season, then by category. We made sure her nursing wardrobe was all together at her fingertips. Then we photographed all her maternity clothes and we WhatsApp’d the photos to one of her friends with an offer to lend. We also gathered the pieces she considered her career clothes and put them in their own area. Thankfully she still has several more weeks of maternity leave.

I have done this closet revamp for young mothers going back to work, for women who have so many clothes they need to separate what they like and what works for them, from what no longer works before they truly know what they have in their wardrobe, as well as women who are moving and need to part with clothes before the movers come. After all, movers charge for everything they move. Reduce the amount before you move. I have done closet revamps for many women and each time I see the women feel like they have lightened their load and enjoy their wardrobe so much more – before they even buy new clothes.

I asked my daughter how she felt after the whole process, especially after seeing her closet transformed. She answered, “It’s not just about seeing the clothes lined up neatly. It’s about the settled feeling it brought. It was a welcome relief that I had some semblance of order, in comparison to the unpredictability of a newborn.”

Organizing your house to get ready for any family member to move in, whether an elderly parent, a returning adult child or a baby, involves forward-thinking and creativity. A room designed with the new occupant in mind will provide a welcome feeling and a tranquil atmosphere felt by all.


Ellen Smith is a professional organizer and wardrobe stylist and a member of NAPO, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. She has been in business about 10 years and is passionate about organizing and helping people restore order and calm in their homes and their souls. She can be contacted at [email protected]