I used to get so stressed out trying to work and juggle the house and the kids. As a creative person a house full of clutter is like building a dam between me and my ideas, but here’s the rub as a creative person, organization for me is something I have to work at…daily.
I love the look of a well organized space, but I need to constantly tweak my surroundings which makes me a personal organizers worst nightmare. I can wander through IKEA for hours, completely mesmerized about the beautifully organized small spaces.
I remember after a visit to my sister’s house. A look into her linen closet made me just stop and stare. How in the world did it get this organized and stay this way? It was like a mini drugstore in a closet, that could rival any of the concierges at the best hotels. Staying at her house is like that. If you forget something, you can be sure she has it neatly tucked away to make you feel right at home.
After that visit, I mentioned to my father in a conversation about the concierge closet. He said, “Just be careful not to get too organized, it will make you less interesting.” I just love that. He gets me. Disorganized and all.
Back at my own house I decided to try to get organized, again. My neighbor at the green monster was a physical therapist by training, and an organizer at heart. She and her husband only lived next door for less than a year while he was between completing a job waiting for his new fellowship program to begin. We became the kind of friends you can admit that you have no idea what you are doing, without having to say a word or being embarrassed about it.
I remember one day when her daughter wanted to go upstairs to play, and I cringed at the idea of her seeing our playroom…ground zero for a littering of toy bombs that I had not picked up. I was deep in my denial mode of being distracted by using all my free time trying to think of ways to make money, which made picking up toys upstairs seem like an insurmountable task. It was not like me to just leave it that way, not that we cannot make a mess. Normally that would bother me way before the need to admit to others that I was struggling with something.
I felt comfortable enough to just let her daughter and by extension my friend venture upstairs. All the way apologizing for my mess. As we sat there on the floor, my friend says, “ I can help you with this if you want.” and then of course I said, “I would feel terrible – I just don’t know where to start.” She said, “Let me, and you go down to your office and get some work done. I can watch the kids. E loves being with the boys and that gives me a break, plus I love this kind of stuff.” Next, I did something completely out of character and said – “okay be back in a while.”
When I did return, she had turned the ruin which was our playroom into an organized space. Piles of toys that belonged together were sorted and the kids were playing with things that had been buried in the rubble. I saw her tossing things around like a Harlem Globetrotter – if she would have taken a ball to spin on her finger I would not have been surprised.
I felt such a deep breath of fresh air, and just stood there at the top of the stairs so grateful she was my friend and had the nerve to offer to help me. The funny thing is our downstairs looked great. I had sewn slipcovers for the couches, antique accessories abound, and had flowers growing in the yard. You would never have known the lurking mess that was just up the stairs. I did and felt it like a storm cloud over my head, until that day.
Today, as I am getting ready to head out to my MIL’s to help her with her downsizing project I wanted to clean and pick up the house before we left. I would be back tomorrow sans kids, and wanted to hang out with the Mad Scientist and grill at the pool. I did not want to come back and spend my no kid time cleaning. Do you know what happened? It is getting to the point of being so organized (well, some days anyway) that it is a simple process and not stressful. I would not say I love cleaning and organizing, but I do love the feeling of regaining control of our life.
Downsizing has helped me stop the energy draining distractions and get to work. It is not about becoming organized, rather figuring out what you need around you to make you happy. Labels not necessary.