Organizing Lessons From Cinderella, Ariel, and Mary Poppins

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Do you live with Hansel and Gretel? Perhaps you can locate anyone in your house by following a trail of toys, backpacks, and sneakers? Or maybe you know the specific path hubby took through the house just by following his keys, jacket, and contents of his pockets. If so, then you also live with Hansel and Gretel. Wouldn’t it be nice, then, if we could get organized like some other fictional characters as well? We can if we learn their tricks and their most important organizing lessons.

Organizing Lessons From Cinderella, Ariel, and Mary Poppins


How did Cinderella Get it All Done?

At first glance, it seems like Cinderella is a queen at organizing. After all, she single-handedly keeps the castle clean, waits hand and foot on her stepmother and stepsisters, she cooks, she sews her own clothes – the girl is a marvel!

Most of us have things in common with Cinderella. You’ve probably had an unreasonable boss (like her step-mother) who demanded the impossible and expected miracles. You might even have a spouse or children who are like her step-sisters and who are totally not helpful and even create extra work for you (however, you might want to consider a bit of retraining if this is your situation – just sayin’).

Lots of us share commonalities with Cinderella and have too much to do and too little time to get it done. But unlike Cinderella, most of us are not whistling, smiling, and singing our way through our To Do list. Instead, we’re exhausted and grumpy and wondering why we can’t seem to juggle it all.

If only we were more like Cinderella!

But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that Cinderella doesn’t have it all together either. I’m not knocking Cinderella. In fact, Cinderella happens to be one of my favorite Disney characters. But let’s get real for a minute – Cinderella had help. She didn’t do it all by herself. She had systems in place and she had helpers who knew what do to.

Remember the birds and mice? She whistled and they arrived to help make the bed. They did all kinds of things to make her life easier including finishing the sewing on her original dress for the ball. They even rescued her when she was locked in her room and about to miss reclaiming her glass slipper!

How many of us have a support system like that?

And let’s not forget the most important thing of all – She had a fairy godmother (I’ve always wanted one of those!).

[bctt tweet=”I always wanted a fairy godmother to help me get organized! I think she got lost.” username=”sasmerchant”]

Where many of us differ from Cinderella is in our willingness to ask for – and accept – help with the daily chores. I’ve known women who complained that their husbands never load the dishwasher and then turn right around and admit that he “doesn’t do it right”. Well, gee! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that people aren’t going to help when their efforts are criticized.

There is nothing wrong with expecting family members to do their share. Teach them how to do chores (if they’re children, of course – hubby might not appreciate it!) , and then don’t follow behind them criticizing everything they do, or worse, redoing it because it doesn’t meet your standards.

Will there be times when you could do it better? Absolutely! The question then becomes this: Do you want help or do you want it done your way? They’re two different things and you’ve got to decide which is more important (I know which one I chose).

Cinderella was smart. She knew that enlisting help was the only way to get things done.

Lesson to learn from Cinderella: It’s okay to ask for help

Mary Poppins: The ultimate organizer

Who among us wouldn’t love to have Mary and her carpetbag arrive to help us whip our house (and family) into shape? I love Mary Poppins (and I adore Julie Andrews!) because nothing ruffles her. No problem is too big to solve and there’s no heart she can’t melt.

Mary Poppins is probably the ultimate organizer! We can all learn from her skills:

  1. Be prepared for everything – because you never know what is going to pop up next that you need to deal with.
  2. Routines are your friend. When everyone in the house knows what is expected and how to get it done, things run more smoothly.
  3. Every item in your home needs a place it belongs. This makes it easier to tidy things up.
  4. Everyone has a part to play and chores to do to keep home tidy and functioning efficiently.
  5. Make a game of getting things done. I’ve known folks who put on upbeat music and worked to that. Others have had contests to see who could get something done the fastest. We used to do the “10-minute tidy” at our house. It’s amazing what can get done in ten minutes when everyone is pitching in. And doing a regular tidy beats having to spend all day on the weekend getting things done.
  6. Attitude is everything! It’s true that the people around us watch us for cues. They say that moods are contagious and I believe it. If Mom is stressed, grumpy, and unhappy, it’s difficult for other family members to be in a good mood. And my grandmother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” When you enlist help from hubby or kids, they’ll be more inclined to help without grumbling if you’re not grouchy about it too. That “spoonful of sugar” makes nearly everything in life a little easier to swallow – including chores.

Mary Poppins also used a reward system. When the nursery was tidy, it was time for a fun outing to the park or to visit friends. We all work  better when we have something to look forward to. That old saying about the carrot and the stick is true because we all respond better when we’re motivated.

During the course of the movie, Mary Poppins not only whips the children into shape, she manages to melt the hard exterior of Mr. Banks and help the family learn to enjoy each other.  I find it interesting that attitudes, routines, and behaviors all seem to merge to create a happier family once chaos is conquered.

Lesson to learn from Mary Poppins: The ultimate goal of getting organized is so that you have time and energy to enjoy the important things in life.

Even a hoarder can learn to let go of stuff

Ariel had a thing for “stuff. She collected it and she loved it. Her “stuff” gave her something to talk about with her friends, and it gave her something to focus on when she was unhappy and frustrated. Her “stuff” gave some meaning to her life.

I can just picture Ariel in a house that’s overflowing with too much stuff, can’t you? She was always intrigued with the latest shiny object and wanted to add it to her collection.

Even when she had no idea what an object was, she wanted it. And she was devastated when the stuff was destroyed. It’s funny how attached we can get to our “stuff”.

From Ariel, I take away several points:

  • It’s possible to have too much stuff
  • Just because something is pretty and shiny doesn’t mean that it’s useful or that we need it
  • Stuff can be a real source of conflict between us and those who love us
  • Stuff can easily become a substitute for something that’s lacking in our lives, even if we don’t realize what that something is

Of course, what Ariel was longing for was love. Her “stuff” was merely a substitute and it probably helped take her attention off her currently unhappy situation. Once we figure out what we really want out of life, material possessions aren’t as important any more.

Lesson to learn from Ariel: We all have to decide what is most important to us. In the end, people bring more joy and happiness than things ever will.

We can learn from each of these characters and apply those lessons to our own lives. It’s so easy to feel swallowed up in the busy, hectic life and feel like things will never be under our control. When you feel like this, take a breath. Focus on the moment and what’s truly important. Then get back to work while giving yourself – and everyone else – a break. Keeping things decluttered and organized is a continual process. You’ll get there.

But if anyone has a fairy godmother that they’re tired of, please send her my way. I think mine got lost somewhere!

I’d love for you to share this with your friends or to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board.

Before you leave, be sure to take a look at 11 Signs You Have Too Much Stuff, The Critical Question to Ask to Get Rid of Clutter, and 33 Products to Help You Conquer Your Clutter and Get Organized.

What do you think is the most important thing to remember about “stuff”?



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