Kids, Trees and Organizing

Trees and Organizing

I live in Connecticut. This means trees… everywhere. Recently, it has occurred to me that dealing with trees is similar to rearing children. Here are some lessons I’ve learned by observing trees and kids.


Come early May, trees around here make their presence known. We start to see a lot of this…

Trees are messy

And then a week later this…

tree debris

And there is always a lot of this…

tree branches

Next up will be tiny inchworms swinging from invisible threads, catching in my hair when I go retrieve the mail!

All of this just reminds me of living in a house full of children. Children drop stuff wherever they go: dolls, toys, Wii controls, hair ties, dirty socks, artwork, crayons, sports gear, food wrappers, flash drives… you name it! To keep the mess at bay, don’t let it pile up.

If I don’t regularly remove the tree debris from my driveway, I’m eventually going to have difficulty driving out. Likewise, if the various childhood supplies are left strewn about, they will ultimately interfere with household movement, and may get lost or damaged. Help your kids by making sure there is a designated “home” for all of their belongings, and then make it a priority to regularly put things away.


Each year I hire a tree company to trim, prune, and even cable limbs and branches. In spite of all the storms, our trees just keep getting bigger. And so it goes with children. In the first year of life alone, babies go through about four sizes of clothes. And it doesn’t end there: teenage boys seem to need new pants every three months.

The best way to cope with this reality is to expect and plan for changing needs.

  • Always keep a donation bag on the floor of the closet so you can easily pitch in anything they’ve outgrown.
  • At the end of the season, don’t save clothes that “just fit” … they will likely be too small come next year.
  • Look ahead and plan for special events to make sure you will have what you need (e.g. a sports jacket for the family wedding, dress shoes for the dance, cleats for spring baseball, etc.)


One minute the trees are just budding, then they leaf out, and in a few short months, they are dropping leaves. The same is true with children: you finally figure out their preferences and dislikes, and suddenly… they change their minds.

To keep your home from becoming a graveyard of unwanted paraphernalia, keep your easily accessible spaces stocked with only current supplies. Your child has decided he’s no longer interested in the flute and now wants to play soccer ? Move the music supplies out of the way and bring in the shin guards.  Your daughter will no longer wear bows in her hair? Get them out of the bathroom and make space for the hair straightener! In the garage, put out of season supplies in the back or up high and make sure kids can easily reach and return the items they are using today.


Even though trees drop stuff all over my yard, need attention, and cost me money, I have to admit they are truly wonderful. They provide shade, make a beautiful sound in the wind, add color to my life, and attract the birds I love to watch. And although they require an immense amount of work and investment, children also add joy, challenge, wonder, and delight.

With both trees and children, it sure is nice to periodically just sit back and enjoy them.

Wonderful trees

Do you have trees and/or children in your life? What lessons would you add?

38 thoughts on “Kids, Trees and Organizing”

    1. I have a whole house full of supplies for activities my children tried, and then moved on from. It’s an ever-evolving picture!

  1. Yes i have kids and trees, and yes you are right I wouldn’t trade either one. Our tree in our backyard is in a slow decline, and for the last 14 years we have lived in this house, it has provided shade for my son to play in his sandbox when he was little, a place for the beautiful cardinals to sing in, and a real focal point. Great post.
    Jill Robson recently posted…Teach your children wellMy Profile

    1. Sounds like a beautiful tree you have, Jill. Messy, but worth it. Love that you have memories of your son at different ages there:)

    1. That is such a great way to say it, Karen… amazing and annoying. Motherhood is so much about adapting “on the fly” ! BUT, it is an amazing and wondrous journey:)

    1. Oh good one on the passing on of colds… I think I sick for about 6 years. I don’t know how preschool teachers do it! I imagine if you life in a climate where there aren’t big trees, taking care of your property is just easier:)

  2. We have fruit trees and they are such a mess! The peaches I love, but I’m not so crazy about the apples – they are little hard green ones, kind of like Granny Smiths. So, I invite all the Mormon ladies in my neighborhood to come and pick them all. They are delighted and I don’t have to worry about all the mess from the trees.
    Adrian recently posted…Headshots and Business Cards, Oh My!My Profile

    1. Okay, the image of a yard full of Mormon ladies picking apples is making me smile this morning! Fruit trees are extra tricky because the fallen fruit attracts creatures, right? I love your practical solution!!

  3. Creative post! You forgot to mention the messy, sticky sap and the yucky messes of potty training! Got anything for me in that department?? All kidding aside, I couldn’t agree with your analogy more. Watching my son blossom and watching the blooms pop is pure delight!

    1. It’s funny you should say that — I just got hit with something sticky while I was outside cleaning up!! I think the potty training analogy might have more to do with the birds in the trees than the trees themselves (wink, wink, nod, nod)

  4. “Expect and plan for change”

    Wow! That is important but hard to implement! It goes against our natural grain to anticipate and participate in change. But the more we do, the better we feel and more organized we are.

    Thanks for sharing this great analogy!

    1. Thanks for reading, Ellen:) I think many people are simply trying to keep their heads above water in the present, which I totally understand. Yet, anytime we can head off a crisis with a little planning, the reduction in stress is a big payoff.

    1. That’s so true, Janet! Shortly after we moved from our old home, we drove by (we moved within our town) and saw that the new owners had taken down a favorite tree… a huge Japanese maple that my girls had climbed in. We all felt quite sad about it. There is definitely an emotional connection to our trees/nature that we don’t often consciously acknowledge.

  5. I love this post! Very thoughtful! We have a neighborhood church who just named their pre-school Small Oaks. They also have a Bible Study for everyone called Acorn to Oak. I thought you could appreciate that! 🙂

    1. I love both of these, Autumn! Our community really loves trees as well… nobody takes down a tree unless it is absolutely necessary. Causes some problems when big storms blow through, but we really love the way it looks around here come October!

  6. Hi Seana, I have a huge maple tree in my back yard which creates a beautiful umbrella in the summer. I think we can learn so much from trees and children too. They know when it is time to change, they don’t need to wait for permission or approval. I actually have a love/hate relationship with my tree as it is a lot of work but I wouldn’t cut it down for the world. Great post!!
    Kim recently posted…Help for Hoarders Facing Eviction – What can you do?My Profile

    1. That’s me too, Kim. Love/hate relationship. Sometimes I’m even a little afraid, when they start swaying in high wind! But they add so much, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you point about them knowing when it is time to change and not needing permission – that is right one, for kids and trees!

    1. Absolutely true, Nina! they both grow so fast. We put some evergreen trees in along the back of our property… one a year (since they are expensive). I am AMAZED to see the difference from the one we put in year one versus the one we put in last year!

  7. Great analogy post! Very clever. I have huge trees that I have grown and feed since they were saplings — 20 years this year. You could call them my oldest babies. My willow tree needs a “hair cut” at least 3 times a year. Lol or we won’t be able to mow under it. My Washington Hathor tree is prickly and needs extra care or it will hurt anything that goes near it. And my dogwood needs to be protected from the birds that make it their home. Just to name a few. Thanks for sharing. This is great!

    1. Sounds like you have a beautiful property, Sabrina. I’ve never heard of a Washington Hathor tree! I love my dogwoods, but they are “delicate.” So fun to enjoy them, especially at this time of year:)

    1. Oh yes, Andi… the end of the school year – that is such a cluttered time! And then they go off to college, and when they move home at the end of the year you are trying to find space to put a whole apartment’s worth of stuff. Too funny!

    1. I’m afraid change is the new normal when it comes to children’s stuff.. they just grow so fast and their needs are constantly shifting. Less is more, though. We often just buy more stuff than they need. It’s all good, though, right?

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