I have eight boxes of calendars in my front room waiting for Howard to draw and me to ship. Next to those boxes is a stack of packages that I assembled this morning and are waiting for me to put on clothes so I can take them out to the mailbox. There is also a bag of garbage waiting to go out to the can. The area in front of the coat closet is in its usual jumble of discarded coats, shoes, papers, and toys. The cubbies next to it–which exist to hold all this stuff–are empty. Obviously there needs to either be a system overhaul or extensive re-training. The Christmas tree stands in the corner, lights off during the day, but still a lovely promise of holiday to come. There are no gifts under the tree and likely won’t be for weeks, though Howard and I have begun discussing what we want to do.
The kitchen table is littered with books, papers, and dirty dishes. All of these are freshly accumulated from last night’s homework time and this morning’s breakfast. The table can go from pristine to cluttered in less than five minutes–and it does on a daily basis. Kitchen counters, ditto, with the addition of crumbs, cutting boards, and other food preparation supplies and spills. The walls are dirty because some of them are fourteen feet up and we’ve never climbed up there to wash them. I shall not speak of the floor.
The family room is currently clean, but there is an unassuming file box sitting on the game table which heralds an imminent take over. Soon the couches will be shoved out of the way and shipping tables will be set up. The fireplace is covered in games and toys which don’t currently fit into the cabinets because the cabinets are jumbled rather than organized. The upstairs hallway needs to be vacuumed, but someone needs to put all the books back onto the shelf first. Picture books are prone to leaping off of the shelf and piling themselves onto the floor. The kids have once again taken to storing things on the floors of their bedrooms. They leave walking paths at least. I shall not speak of the bathrooms.
My office is fairly clear because it was used to house guests last week and will be put to similar use this weekend. I do need to do some careful putting away since this batch of guests includes one toddler, one preschooler, and two grade school children. Things will get touched. The laundry is actually contained in baskets rather than spilling forth to fill the entire laundry closet. That is likely to change in the next few days because I’m not going to spend much energy on laundry other than to make sure we don’t run out of clean underwear.
This is my house. It is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes I look around and think I’m doing okay. Other times I’m appalled at my housekeeping. Mostly though I call it good if the fluctuations pass through cleanliness often enough for us all to know what it looks like. I have a definite correlation between clean house and being less stressed, but the causality there can flow both directions. Sometimes I clean to become less stressed. Other times I’m less stressed therefore I have time to clean. It is the cluttery times which show me where to focus my attention when I have organizational energy. Like that front coat closet. I’m seriously considering tearing the front wall off of it and turning it into a nook instead of a closet with a door. In theory this would encourage people to hang their coats, but the reality might be mess visible all the time instead of some of the time. I’m still pondering ways to set it up so that the system still works when we’re not focused on it.
One of the most important organizational lessons I’ve learned is to think of my house as spaces instead of as rooms. The rooms have names, but each room has multiple purposes. The family room has a video game area, a computer area, storage cupboards, and an open space which sometimes is full of the game table. When we want to host a large gathering the game table gets stowed in the corner and the furniture slides around to create an open space in the middle of the room. Or if the event focuses around gaming, then the big table becomes the center of the room. My office serves as a storage space, library, craft space, guest room, work space, and quiet retreat. Things get pulled out and put away as they serve the purpose at hand. By thinking in spaces, I’m able to make the same desk serve three purposes depending upon how I set it up.
We are always tinkering with the way our household is arranged. I don’t know any other way to manage a house that contains six people who are always growing, taking up new hobbies, abandoning old interests, and pressing forward.
And now I should probably go get dressed to take out the garbage and those packages.