The photo accompanying this entry should be titled: All this Stuff is Not in My House Anymore. (Except for Emma and the bag of tennis balls. We kept those). And this picture doesn’t even include the NINE bags of garbage we put out on Thursday — this is just the vanload of recyclables and donatables we got rid of.
I would put in before-and-after pictures of the rooms in my house except that the “before” pictures would make you go: “What? How can anyone live in such a mess?” and the “after” ones would make you go, “What? She’s proud of that? That’s just what a house is supposed to look like — no big deal!” So the only way I can convey the scope of my acomplishment is to show you some of the stuff I got rid of during a weeklong series of purges which would have made both Stalin and the Flylady proud.
In some ways I’m a very organized person and in some ways I’m not. Household organization is always a problem. I did used to be a little more organized when I was a SAHM — I actually did do Flylady and learned a lot from her techniques — but I found the whole thing fell apart when I went back to work. I really envy those people who have a place for everything and everything in its place. I want to be one of their number, and for a short time every year or so, I am.
I’m not so big on “spring cleaning” but I do require a major gutting of the house before going back to school in September. Being the working mom of two school-aged children challenges my organizational skills to the max. I love all the elements of my life separately — love my kids, love my husband, love my house, love my job — but bringing all these elements together in a harmonious whole is quite the balancing act at times. I can’t even get started for the year if things are in their usual state of chaos.
So for the last week I have been attacking the house, one room at a time, throwing out and recycling and giving away tons of things we no longer use or need, and sorting, organizing and filing the things we do need so we can actually find them. By this time I have reached a Zen-like state of organized perfection. (It helps that I have a cleaner come in once a week — she doesn’t sort or organize my stuff, of course, but if I haul everything out of the kitchen cupboards, which I did, she can scrub the cupboards, which makes my job of re-filling them in a saner way much more manageable). Right now, I know where just about everything in my house is. Go ahead — test me. Ask me something hard and I’ll tell you how quickly I can find it.
My problem is never with getting organized. I’ve heard people complain that they set out to tidy and organize messy spots and feel like they get nowhere — things are just as messy afterwards. I do feel like I get somewhere — in fact, I feel like Superwoman at the moment. My problem is maintenance — I can get organized; I just can’t stay organized.
Clearly I do have the skills — as I said, some corners of my life are quite organized. If I can organize my office/classroom at work, I should be able to do the same at home — although a house is much bigger than a classroom, has a lot more stuff in it, and has four people living in it full time, so it’s a bit more challenging. But I guess the thrill I get from organizing the house, and the crash that comes afterwards, are pretty much par for the course for most of us, in many areas of life.
It’s not that hard to have a life-changing experience — whether it’s a religious conversion or spiritual awakening or some other revelation that changes everything. The hard part is actually changing everything — maintaining that new lifestyle on a daily basis. Someday, someday I will discover the secret of not just organizing the stuff in my house, but keeping it organized. Till then, I will just cherish the above picture with the knowledge that at least that particular van-load of junk is not in my house anymore … though new junk is even now circling the house warily, watching the unguarded entrances, preparing to creep inside and fill up my lovely clean cupboards.