Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Life Can Be Easier

Searching for the remote always made me mad. I had a perfect spot to keep it right on top of the TV, but it was never there. No matter how often I reminded my household to return it to it's proper home, I usually found it between the cushions of the couch. One day it dawned on me: maybe it should live there! As soon as I changed my mind, and accepted things as they always had been, the remote was always where it should be! One less reason to be mad.

Here are a few other tidbits of organization I've incorporated along the way, that might seem obvious, but escaped my logic for many years. I became a happier person when I accepted the natural flow of the household.

  1. The Dining Room table was lovely, and I liked to keep it ready at all times for the china, sterling and turkey that graced it once a year. In reality it was covered with scrapbook projects, homework assignments, books and backpacks. It was a constant irritation, and therefore a source of constant conversation about when all this stuff would be moved. When I started thinking of it as the Library, instead of the dining room, it didn't bother me as much. I just changed the name and use of the room in my mind, and my mood changed. Plus we added a very functional room, without any work!
  2. There was always a stack of catalogs sitting on the ottoman in the family room. That's where I left them after perusing them, while I was contemplating making purchases. It made things look out of place and messy. I found a basket in another room, stocked it with reading glasses, a red pen and some colorful post-its. I put in a cute file folder for the keepers and a handy-dandy plastic garbage bag stashed for the garbage. Hobby available+ cleanup handy=Perfect Match. When a catalog arrives, it's dropped in the basket by the ottoman. It's there for multi-tasking, and it looks like it belongs there.
  3. I was always mad at my boys for not putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, in their bathroom. The socks and underwear, plus pants, and T-shirts were continually dropped on the floor at the bottom of their beds. Always quick, I finally figured out that they'd chosen the spot for the hamper and I had misplaced it. When they could lay in their beds and make points by tossing their socks into the basket, things got put away. We were all winners.
  4. I bought a very cute Vera Bradley eye glass case for the end table where I watch TV. But, I don't keep my glasses there. It holds fingernail clippers, a nail file, a chap stick, and a tiny pad and pen. My essential TV paraphernalia is right at hand in a charming little container.
  5. I keep clocks in the bathrooms. It eliminates all that yelling about how little time we've got to do a full make-over before the big event.
  6. I buy multiples of scissors, tape, markers, etc. and place them in a cup in every room I use them. They'll never be lost. No more yelling, "Where's my scissors?"
  7. The obvious: I keep the stuff I never use in the inconvenient spots, and the stuff I always use in the handy spots.
  8. I keep approved kids snacks on the lower shelves, so they don't have to scale the pantry walls.
  9. Have a basket at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top, so you can put the stuff you need to take up or down in the basket.
  10. Rotate toys periodically and they will feel new.
  11. Rehang your pictures in different rooms. They'll seem new.
  12. If you always do the kids hair in the kitchen, keep the stuff in there.
  13. Anywhere there is always a stack of stuff is where that stuff should be kept. The kids coats on the floor of the family room? Get a coat rack and keep it there.
  14. If you want something to be used, make it handy, for instance: a dictionary? keep it where homework is done; soap? by every sink; message pad? keep it next to the phone.
  15. Keep bill paying stuff wherever you actually pay your bills. Have a basket with stamps, return address stamps, checkbook, pen, calculator and bills, etc., on the top of the fridge if you pay them at the kitchen table, or in your nightstand it you pay them in bed.
  16. Keep a cute covered basket of diaper essentials,( including non-toxic room spray, wipes, and zip-lock bags) in the kitchen, family room, bathroom, so they are available wherever you and your stinky baby might be. Take care of these things quickly!
  17. Keep a basket filled with TP rolls on the back of the toilet so it's always available. It's embarrassing to call out, "Can you spare a square?" from that most vulnerable of positions.
  18. When little ones are noticed hiding behind the door, or under the table during adult conversations, pretend not to see them. The stuff they're learning is the stuff of life. You can't teach it in all it's variables in any university class, but it's vital for a general education.
  19. Let the kids figure out the tip. It teaches them manners and generosity.
  20. Instead of keeping shoes upstairs in bedroom closets, keep them by the back door. Insist they come off immediately when everyone comes in the door. They're easily found again, and muddy shoes are kicked off by habit. This makes the daily search for the shoe game shorter, and happier because mom usually wins.
Most of these ideas are just common sense, but since common sense isn't very common, I'm suggesting them to make everyone's life a little easier. Do you have some to add?

Illustration by my favorite contemporary artist: Mary Engelbreit.


rp said...

Great post. I agree, adapting to the flow is much more sensible than constantly trying to swim upstream!

kenju said...

Very ood advice! I am, by nature, a very organized person. I do many of the things you wrote about, and I can't think of any to add at the moment.

Annie said...

#18 took me right back to listening to my mom and all my aunts talk around the cabin table. I was the oldest grandchild so I loved absorbing all their information, sitting just far enough away to be forgotten. Juicy stuff!

These are great hints. You're right...so much of the time all it takes is reframing your view.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Yet again, Oma, you've left us pearls of wisdom. LOVE this list. Totally need it right now as I'm finding places to put things.

Nimmy said...

I am a visual organizer. I like to see what I have so that I don't forget that I have it. Therefore, I prefer having stacks rather than file things away. I like to have a full bulletin board, rather than an index box. A trick I learned on "Neat", a Discovery Home show, is to find a place for my stacks. I have magazine organizers for some of my stacks, and then I use horizontal paper holders and clear plastic drawers for other stacks. If I am forced to use an opaque bin I quickly label the outside so that I am comfortable knowing what's on the inside.

Betty said...

Very good tips. I like the idea that if things pile up somewhere, maybe that's where they ought to be. Never thought of it that way.

the moose buyer said...

I absolutely cannot believe how organized you are and I am very very jealous. Even if I did most of what you suggest, everything would be in a disarray in a short time and I would have no one to blame. The kid is married!!!!

Kay Dennison said...

Oh my Gtod, Marty!!!! GREAT stuff!!! You are so seriously organized! Wanna come over nd redo my place? lol

MissKris said...

I guess you and I have common-sensical LEFT-HANDED brains that think quite a bit alike, Marty. Yes, I'm 100% 'lefty' except for being FORCED to learn 10-key on a right-handed keyboard at a job in the '80s. As to the dining room table, I have a basket on top of ours that's the catch-all...the mess is there, but somewhat concealed. I dunno...since our kids have grown up, I've relaxed sooooooooooooo much. We got rid of our larger table a few years back and replaced it with a much smaller one because no one ever eats in our dining room, and our 1912 Craftsman bungalow is small enough as it is. It's a lightweight table I can move out of the way by myself so I can push it off to the side and my grandson has plenty of room to haul out his ride-on car and Fisher Price garage, etc. Oh and I heartily agree about the little "eavesdroppers"...that's how I learned a LOT as a kid. Back in those days, women had time for coffee breaks during the day and my Mom always had a bunch of women gathered around our big kitchen table. Oh, the wonderful juicy tidbits I'd hear, quietly scrunched in under their feet! I think it was because of that I had a very practical sense of what real marriage was like by the time I was old enough to marry. Sure weren't very many "Knights in Armor" stories these ladies shared, hahaha! ;-P

Sandra Ferguson said...

Great post.

After surviving three children, or they survived me--never sure which--I've discovered the truth of your statements. Common sense organization is always the best way to go.

I finally broke down and bought the cheap variety of reading glasses for every room I read in, then found a spot to drop them in that room. Now, when I'm ready to read, there is no more endless search to find glasses.

Loved the laundry hamper revelation. I, too, discovered put the hamper where the clothes are and the clothes will be where expected.