I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for that next-best tip that’s going to help me be a little better organized, or that best-kept cleaning secret that’s going to make my kitchen shine.
That said, it’s not surprising that I wanted to talk to Cindy Haugland, owner of Tidy Tightwads. She started her Hutchinson-based cleaning and organizing company with a mop and a broom. With 16 years of professional services under her belt, it’s not surprising Haugland has a lot of stories to tell. So many, in fact, that friends, family and her editor at River Valley Woman magazine, where she writes a monthly column, encouraged her to write a book. Thanks to the down time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Haugland was able to make it happen. Her first book, “The Thrifty Cleaning and Organizing Adventures of The Tidy Tightwad,” was released in July.
The 80-page softcover book is packed with tips, tricks and advice she’s been accumulating since she started her business. It’s the kind of book you can pick up and put down. You don’t need to read it all in one sitting. It’s also an excellent source of immediate information such as is it useful or clutter, see page 34. With the new school year right around the corner, you might want to check out how to make school mornings less stressful on page 14, and best school tips on page 16. Need some help with getting ready for fall? See page 71.
“I’ve worked with every scenario, from highly organized and tidy people to county-contracted hoarder situations,” she wrote in her blog. “I’ve helped time-strapped parents streamline their days, as well as chaotic households with stay-at-home moms or dads figure out what to do with all their stuff. I’ve advised business people with jam-packed calendars and piled-high desks how to better organize their offices and time so they can find some peace and order to their days. You name it, and I’ve been called to help bring some order and cleanliness to the chaos.”
Haugland, who moved to Hutchinson about 30 years ago, was born in Buffalo Lake but grew up in Springfield. After 20 years of working as a dental assistant, she was burnt out. She quit her job without another one in sight. When a busy-mom friend asked if she would clean her house, Haugland stepped up. Before she knew it, a business was born.
“It was a leap of faith,” she said.
TOO MUCH STUFF
While cleaning launched Tidy Tightwads, organizing has become one of its pillars.
“Everybody has problems with clutter, but it’s getting better,” she said. “We provide clutter boxes to our clients and then pick them up each visit and donate the items. Clients love it.”
When it comes to clutter, paper is No. 1. People want to know how long to keep it and how to file it. Another biggie is clothes.
“People have lots of clothes, lots of shoes, lots of books, good dishes,” she said. “Some people have three or four sets of china sitting in a closet that never gets used. Kids get overwhelmed (with a lot of clothes). They always want the same T-shirt. Does your child need 18 pairs of jeans? If you keep bringing things in and take nothing out, you’ll get into trouble.”
It’s not surprising Haugland loves to organize. She describes it as “so satisfying.”
“I worked with this gal, you couldn’t see the bed in the spare room,” she recalled. “I didn’t know there was a bed in there. We spent two hours. When we were done, you could walk into the room and walk around the bed.”
Haugland doesn’t leave her clients. She likes to follow up to find out if they’re keeping things together or if they need another session.
“People get frustrated and close the door,” she said.
Another growing area is senior right-sizing. She’s often brought in when mom and dad are ready to sell their longtime family home. Haugland has family members telling her that their parents won’t get rid of anything. Without emotional attachment, Haugland can ask the tough questions such as, “Can we get rid of grandpa’s golf clubs? He’s been dead for 20 years.”
DO YOU NEED 12 SCRAPERS?
While commercial and residential cleaning is steady, there’s been an uptick in organizing and senior services in her market area that is roughly a 30-mile radius of Hutchinson and includes Litchfield, Dassel, Cokato, Glencoe, Buffalo Lake and Hector.
“I think senior kids are busy,” she said. “They’re the ones calling. Mom and Dad sold their house and are moving to the Village Cooperative. It’s a process. It can’t be done in a weekend. Don’t wait until you need to move. Start early to get rid of stuff.”
And in case you’re thinking your kids will want it, check with them because this isn’t always true anymore. China, crystal and sterling silver are high maintenance items and fewer people want the hassle anymore.
“They want it simple,” she said. “Don’t assume your kids will want it. Make a list and check with them. It may hurt a little bit, but it’s good to know.”
It’s not surprising Haugland’s motto is “less is more.”
“It’s easy to maintain and clean if there’s less stuff,” she said. “If you’re using it every day, keep it, but if you have 12 rubber scraper and you use the same one. Keep 6 and get rid of 6. They all do the same thing. People are surprised when they discover they have 12 scrapers. I line them up. It’s visual so people can see how many they have.”
To help stem the clutter wave, Haugland recommends giving a consumable gift rather than stuff. For instance, a gift card to a restaurant where you can share the experience. She gave her grandchild a gift certificate for horse-riding lessons. Be creative and make memories by sharing the experience.
While Haugland’s book is chockfull of useful tips, one she highly recommends is a once-a-month family meeting, so everyone is on the same page.
“I think it’s important,” she said. “Time gets away. Schedule together time and make it happen. At the end of the year, we made a goal list. It was helpful with my kids. They are doing it now with their families.”
So who should read Haugland’s book? All of us. Who can’t use a little extra help in keeping the house clean and clutter in check?