Thursday, February 7, 2013

Starting Points For Messies & True Confessions

As I was writing my review of 5 Days to a Clutter Free House, I went to Sandra Felton's Messies Anonymous website.  I noticed that at the bottom of the main page, she lists the "Four Sturdy Legs of the Organizing Chair", complete with example pictures. They're four simple daily steps to start changing messy habits ... but they're problem areas in our home.  No wonder we're struggling with order if even these 4 basic steps are issues.

Sandra Felton's "Four Sturdy Legs of the Organizing Chair":
  1. Bed made daily and kept clear
  2. Clear dining room table
  3. Sink clear as you keep things moving
  4. Inspiration point guarded from clutter 
1. Okay, I don't clutter up my bed each day, but I don't make it every day.  I was making it earlier in the year when I had a pretty quilt on it, but with the extra layers of winter blankets and the puffy down comforter, I have found myself not making it again.  Sometimes my issue is that 2 yo V has climbed into bed with me sometime in the night and she's still sleeping in it when I get up.  But mainly, I just got out of the habit of making it and need to do it again.  I know once we put away the winter blankets and get the quilt out, I'll be more inspired, but I should still work on it now.

2. The dining room table.  Sigh.  That has been a battle-ground our entire marriage.  At first it was Steve's dumping ground for mail.  Then as we began homeschooling it became clogged with schoolwork and craft projects.  We do well with keeping it clear for awhile and then we get a little busy and it turns into a dumping ground again.  We kept it clear through all of December and most of January, and then suddenly it began to pile up again.  We're once again working on getting it cleaned up and training the kids not to leave their projects out, but it's a never-ending cycle.

3. The sink.  Oh, the sink.  We eat 3 meals a day here, every single day, for 8-10 people (depending on who's home). Well, we have a schedule that states that breakfast dishes are to be washed by these children after breakfast, before lunch.  But they don't always do it.  Then lunch gets added to it.  At this very moment, we have 2 meals of dishes in the sink, and I need to gather the assigned children and force them to go wash them.  But one of the children is in the middle of his schoolwork, though he could have been done by now, and I hate to disrupt schoolwork. Steve says each meal's dishes should be washed before the next meal or the assigned child doesn't eat (until they're done).  Sounds good in theory, but we usually mess up in the morning.  Some of our kids take longer with breakfast, or eat later, and by the time they've finished, he's doing schoolwork.  I guess we need to figure out a method and enforce.  Maybe he has to wash dishes by 10 am, and if anyone eats after 10, they have to wash their dish themselves?  We just need a better routine to our mornings, period.

4. And the final leg is to have one protected, uncluttered, beautiful area to inspire you.  I don't have that anymore.  I have in the past, and occasionally I carve another one out, but it doesn't stay protected very long.  I guess that is my fault for not keeping up with it.  Slowly the beauty point becomes a cluttered spot, too.  A few years ago it was my dresser top, but it started becoming a dumping ground again, so I need to sit down, sort stuff out, and clean it up again.  Last year I had set a bookshelf beside our bed with some decorative items, a few devotional books, a lamp, etc.  When my bed was made, the bookshelf and bed made a lovely peaceful respite from the busyness and clutter of the house.  This week I had to move a dresser out of our room and put another small shelf in there.  It's clean, uncluttered, and a mixture of decorative and functional items.  If I would just go back to making my bed, declutter my dresser top, and tackle Steve's dresser area, our room could be that beautiful space.  I just need to tackle the two dresser tops and the metal clothes rack that serves as Steve's closet.

Our other major housekeeping hang-up is the laundry.  It's my fault.  I have a tendency to wash the clothes, but not fold them right away.  Sometimes it is a lack of space to do so.  If kids are reading on the couch, or doing schoolwork at the table, or if the table is just too cluttered, then I don't have a folding area. Conquering the dining room table again would provide a space as long as it's not school time.  I have used my bed before, but the bedroom is a small space and if I have a one year old at the time, they like to walk around amongst the stacks, which knocks them down.  We're working on organizing our basement and we have a table down there that is planned to be my folding table beside the dryer, but we still have a long way to go.  I'm afraid I haven't been much help to Steve on that project, partly from being pregnant, and partly because I know we disagree too much on what should be kept so I removed myself from the equation completely. Now I've aired our dirty laundry, or at least our baskets full of clean and unfolded laundry.

I know that simply overcoming these five areas would go a long way toward helping our home stay cleaner each week.  I just need to keep up with them so we can make progress on some of the other clutter issues in our home. It's a continual process, working through busier times, sicknesses, new babies, stages of life, and dealing with the mess that ten people (soon eleven) in one house can make.  We have ups and downs, but we can't give up. 

April E.

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