Traditionally, men have not been as involved as women in the running of a household. You might say now that things have changed in recent decades and you would be right in that assessment. However, most of my male clients – and of course I can only speak for myself here – were of an age that had at least some mental remnant of an upbringing in a time when that original statement still held true to some degree. Which meant that it was usually the womenfolk who approached me to assist them with their projects large or small. If men were even in the picture, they were usually either just watching from the sidelines or showing a complete lack of interest in the proceedings.
Looking at my male clients, they seem to fall into two distinct categories: 30- or 40-somethings usually had trouble with organisation rather than clutter, although some clutter is always involved in such things. The other group were older men in their 60s or older with an accumulation of miscellaneous items from their previous lives and hoping to find a better way of living without some of their possessions.
The category of younger men were usually okay with the number of possessions they had, but overwhelmed with the management and maintenance thereof. Being busy at work and in their private endeavours they had neglected their increasingly complicated environments to a point where important changes had become necessary and an outsider was necessary to cut through the backlog and make sense of it. Such organising tasks could involve anything from developing a working structure for their paperwork to showing them how to fold clothes or the fact that a house needs regular tidying up.
To be fair, the category of older gentlemen tended to feel a lot more helpless, because either their health had been declining or they had lost their partners up to several years before they called me. Sometimes they were simply lost in the modern world, feeling lonely and neglected. I believe that these men were very similar in their needs and approach as were my female clients of a similar age. They had the same level of physical or mental issues overall, albeit that some of the men were rather more helpless around the house simply because they never had to do it before…
So far, it appears that – apart from societal differences – men and women are very similar in their decluttering needs and approach. That may be true for many of the practicalities, but in my experience, there are also some important differences. Men’s lives – especially in the case of older gentlemen – have taken very different routes from a similarly aged elderly women. In general, they have grown up with different standards, expectations, and course of their lives. This is obviously a generalisation, but for many of my clients this holds true, although there are many exceptions as well – I would assume that this is really looking at a generation that is being replaced by the next one with fewer differences based on gender.
For whatever reason, I find that men tend to be less worried about their wardrobe than women, with notable exceptions of course. Many men who work in rather formal environments tend to have standard outfits and wear them in their free time as well – either out of choice, for practical reasons or because they simply couldn’t be bothered otherwise. Men often have collections of some sort, the older generation along the lines of coins or stamps, often related to the railways or the military, specialist books. The younger generation tends to stick with popular culture memorabilia like bobbleheads or models in their original packaging. Of course, women do collect things as well, but they often are of a more practical nature, like pins, rubber bands, plastic bags, stickers or buttons. Both men and women are similar on many fronts, like art supplies, tools related to their hobbies, plants, pictures, etc.
That said, I have identified a number of subjects and issues that show up more regularly for my male clients than they do with my female clients, or where the men were running into similar issues in different circumstances. I will talk about some of those issues in my next couple of posts. Stay tuned!
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in our homes and in our minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.