Friday, December 10, 2010

Systematically Unorganized

Do you consider yourself to be organized?

Some people are born with the gift of organization. Thriving on order and cleanliness they have gadgets such as label makers, closet organizers, those special hangers that hang 12 shirts WHILE keeping the shirts perfectly pressed, ziplock bags of every size and color, a big calender where everyone writes down their schedule of activities, a hand held organizer - well you get the point.

I have a planner, but I rarely write in it. My calender is on the wall for two reasons - so I know what day it is, and because it's Norman Rockwell for goodness' sake. My dresser is somewhat frightening. I try, but it persists in being a magnet for clutter.

My husband is what I consider to be organized. When we had a shed he would go out to it at least once a month to organize - or maybe for quiet time?? ;) While I was pregnant with our second I fell asleep on the couch one night I got up several times to go to bed. Every time I got up he was busy doing something with the closet in the bedroom, every time I would go back to the couch and lay down. Finally at around 3 am I asked him what he could possibly be doing. "Organizing the closet!" He replied. At which point I told him I wanted to go to sleep. I am lucky though to have a husband who actually enjoys putting things in order. It's a huge help to me.

Organization is something I enjoy, but it's not really a natural inclination of mine. I am perfectly capable of being organized and the busier I get the more it forces me into a structured state, but the key word is force.

That sounds so bad!

Honestly my house isn't really ever horribly messy or dirty. My dishes are generally in the same spot. I make my bed in the morning. For the most part things are pretty orderly with the exception of some deep cleaning type jobs.

I really desire to do. On days when I don't I find that I fall into a more melancholy mood. I start to feel as if my energy has been sapped... lifeless.

At times it can be overwhelming to get only the basics done. With small kids who want attention and generally cannot wait long work gets interrupted constantly. I remember a conversation I had with some of the women from MOPS when I was trying to move. I was frustrated because people would schedule showings in the evening (that half the time they wouldn't show up to) and I would clean for large amounts of time during the day. In the process I was struggling to keep my oldest at bay. One of the girls suggested setting a timer. Clean for 30 minutes, play for 30 minutes. It worked so nicely that I implemented that system for a while afterward. Now he enjoys helping so much that it isn't really an issue, but I keep tha system on the shelf for days when it becomes necessary.

I have recently discovered certain tactics that work with me. I love it when that happens! I get so excited when I find something that really works.

1. Making lists

I know, so simple! If I write down a list of what I want and need to get done - regardless of how small the task may be somehow it helps me to stay the course.

I love it that something so easy is so effective. I like marking things off the list - whether the task is small and something I would do anyway, or if it's big and something that I need to stay really focused to accomplish. Truth be told sometimes I really do need to put those "small" items on the list too. On the days when I don't have a list it's not infrequent that I forget something small.

2. Reciting Numbers

It sounds weird, but I do it all the time. I pick a number. Let's say 5 and then I decide if I'm going to do 5 small things, 5 big things, or a compilation of both. Then I walk through the house or sometimes pick a room and do 5 things. 1. Empty washer into dryer 2. Put new load in washer 3. Wipe off table 4. Sweep kitchen 5. Clear off desk. I will do this throughout the day and it really does help me to feel like it's ok then for me to take some time to rest.

It's just not always possible to clean your house from top to bottom in one day when you have little people who need you. It makes me feel better to find ways to succeed without feeling frazzled and thwarted.

3. Dry Erase Board

Chalkboard, mounted list, whatever! At our old house (I've yet to put something up in this house), I had a dry erase board with the days of the week listed. Every day there was a different job.
Monday - change sheets and water plants
Tuesday - laundry, bathrooms

You get the picture. I wasn't always perfectly on schedule but it kept me mindful of the things that hadn't been done yet and needed attention. I am going to hang the Dry Erase board again and reestablish this system.

I don't think that it is a requirement to be organized. Like I said it's something I have to really consciously implement in my own life. I think that for some people they are happier when they aren't forcing themselves to be clean and meticulous. I know that for myself it makes me happier to have my home be a clean and orderly environment. Therefore, I am always happy to find new systems that cause that outcome.

Last but not least I think it's something that I want my kids to see. Another girl at MOPS used a "ticket system" in her house. She went out and bought a whole roll of tickets from the store and for every chore that her kids do they get a ticket. When they have enough tickets stored up they are able to use them to watch television or play a computer/video game. We tried this and it works GREAT! Rowan saved up enough tickets (150) to go to the zoo. Since the move this system has also fallen off the wagon, but again it's something that is soon to be reinstated. Most likely our project for today actually!

Last but not least I wanted to share a quote from one of the women at MOPS (again)!

During a talk about keeping house and making sure that you're still prioritizing your children's needs she shared a saying that had been passed down.

"Clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy." -Kelly L.

Even though I want for my house to be clean and nice and secretly I want it to look like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, I always keep in the back of my head that kids live here. Until they move out there were always, always be remnants of that fact. Toothpaste on the counters, crumbs under their chairs, dirt next to the door handles, and paper planes in the Christmas Tree. Those are the things that make this house happy.

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