“Chaos was the law of nature. Order was the dream of man” – Henry Adams
I was recently speaking with another working mother…about work, but we frequently digress into kid-related stuff. She mentioned to me that she had read an article on a Mommy blog about how to stay sane and organized, and told me that the first tip was “Make your bed, every day”, which was followed by “run at least one load of laundry start to finish, every day”, and there may have even been a bit about “take 15 minutes to wipe down everything in your bathroom, every day”.
I put my initial reaction of “Whaaaaa?” aside and decided to do some of my own research into household organization tips for families. Honestly, I could use some organization help, since I tend to walk the fine line between Cluttered and Is There a Table Under All That? I did find some handy advice, but for now I’m going to keep the ones I found useful to myself and report back later on those.
For now, I’m going to discuss what sounds so simple, looks so wonderful, and could bring real some real order to a home vs. My Reality.
I do understand the concept behind making your bed every day. It gives you a sense of accomplishment first thing. You’ve done something. Maybe, while you’re making your bed, you’ll see a stray magazine or piece of clothing laying on the floor and decide to pick those up too. And then BAM wow! You’ve done three or four productive things to start your day off!
However, in my universe, I’m usually leaping out of bed at the last possible second in order to get my littles to wherever they need to be. I’m not going to take the “30 seconds” to make my bed. Because sleep like a caged animal. Pillows, sheets, covers, everything thrown everywhere. Plus I know I won’t see it again until something like 16 hours later. And, if I were to make my bed, and then start neatening other things up, that 16 hours would pass by very quickly, and I still wouldn’t have picked everything up. And I don’t think my employer or family would think very kindly about my efforts to tidy up.
Running one load of laundry start to finish, every day. Okay, I get the rationale behind that. And I get that a lot of laundry time requires no action on my part, just letting the washer and dryer do their thing. But when the washer is finished, I need to take that time to pull out the line dry vs. dryer dry items, hang the line dry stuff, load the dryer dry stuff, and then actually remember to go back downstairs to the dryer to check if the clothes are dry, which they usually aren’t, and run that shit through again. And then remember to throw the line dry stuff into the dryer for a few minutes. It’s really just all too…meh. So I’d rather wait until someone is screaming that they don’t have some necessary clothing item and then run a panic load. Otherwise, the laundry gets done when I get sick of looking at it.
Taking 15 minutes to wipe down everything in my bathroom. Yeah, so…if there’s something that really needs to be cleaned up, the perpetrator had better take care of it themselves unless they are too young to do so, in which case they need to alert me. Toothpaste and soap residue can just live there until I get to it. Which is usually 15 minutes before company arrives.
In addition to the above, I also looked up organizing tips for Moms.
Regarding the organization of kid things, I saw something to the effect of “we use a rustic elongated wooden bowl as a stylish and easy to reach crayon holder on our kitchen table”. Um. It’s only stylish if every single crayon is intact and artfully arranged via ROYGBIV. In my house, the 3,000 crayons in their various stages of life are in a plastic bin that gets dragged around the house. In my house, I’ve found that the living room floor is also a stylish and easy to reach crayon holder. The same goes for stickers.
Another idea suggested that instead of traditional wooden or plastic toyboxes, which can be such an eyesore, use vintage wine or soda crates with sliding lids. Because that is an elegant way to keep toys hidden. I would have seventeen cases worth of wine crates filled with kid toys stacked floor to ceiling. I don’t think that would be particularly elegant. And it might lead my family to organize an intervention.
Repurposing used furniture. I saw a picture of a used buffet which someone had sanded, primed, painted white and stenciled the drawers with what should be stored in them, like “coloring books” and “puzzles”. She painted it WHITE. The piece truly was beautiful in the picture I saw. But I’d love to see what it looks like now. I have tried various sorts of cute and homey storage ideas for coloring books, art supplies, small toys and dolls. Where are all of those things now? Shoved in plastic bins and closets because I simply lack the energy and time for cute when it comes to storage.
Lego storage. There were bins of legos, sorted by color, neatly staged upon shelves. There were tables upon which children could build their lego masterpieces and then disassemble them and neatly place all the pieces into rolling carts stored beneath the table. I, too, have approximately 2,948,237 lego pieces in my house. They are: a. Scattered on a folding table in the corner of the office; b. Dumped into a plastic bin; or c. Waiting on the floor for me get up to pee in the middle of the night so they can stab the bottoms of my feet like a thousand tiny knives.
The answer is d. All of the above.
Listen. I would love to have an aesthetically pleasing home interior (who wouldn’t?) with all sorts of sweet and kitschy storage options that fold up like Optimus Prime from a massive art table into a side table. I’d like to be able to take the 15 minutes every day to wipe down and tidy up my bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms, living room, office, as well as do light dusting and a quick floor mop. 15 minutes per task that is. Which equates to way more time and energy than I have during any given day.
So, for now, while there are children who can take a room from neat to a disaster area in less than 10 minutes, who drop food on the floor and make a mess of the bathroom mirrors, I’ll spend my time at home focusing on them. Because I have a feeling, when they are grown and gone, and I’m sitting in my neat and tidy home, I am going to be wistful for the days I have now with them. I’m fairly certain I’d rather look back and remember the snuggles, spontaneous dance parties and catching fireflies with my kids than scrubbing toilets, picking up crayons and folding laundry without them.
Originally published on 8/6/2015