Isn’t there a game yooou need to watch? Or doesn’t your toothpick collection need organizing? I said to my husband as he declares “tomorrow, we’re cleaning the basement!” I suddenly feel like a kid. Tears are welling up in my eyes, and a meltdown is about to happen at the mere thought of having to spend a day in the BASEMENT! NOOO!
To hide my repulsion, I quickly turn leaving the room and hear him call after me “And you’re not getting out of it this time! It has to be done; it’s a mess down there.” I moan as I slip out of site avoiding anymore discussion on the matter.
The Organizing Craze:
Have you heard about Marie Kondo? She’s all the rage in organizing one’s life these days. I’ve never watched her show or read her books, but I saw her interviewed on Steven Colbert – and I’m wondering if she’s too good to be true. I have some questions for her. Has she road tested her own advice on her family?
I want to know what her background is? Is she lived enough to accumulate a house full of family’s life?
Is she living with anyone? Does she know, they come with stuff she may or not like?
Does she have kids? Does she know they come with stuff too? – Lots of stuff! And the more she has the more stuff there is!
Has she taken care of several elderly or disabled family members in her home? Those elderly relatives come with decades of stuff.
How many relatives belongings has she inherited over the years that never lived with her and feel somewhat obligated to keep their stuff out of respect?
I chuckle at her style of discarding. I want to ask her this…forget about whether an item brings me “joy” what do I do if ditching the stuff it could cause a World War III?
I’ve already experienced the anger of a family member when they found out I didn’t keep their prized item(s) after they so graciously gave them to me. Yes, I am grateful they thought of me. I did use them a few times, but honestly, I needed the room and a decision had to be made. So now I just lie about whether I have it or not.
My point is, Marie’s popularity isn’t helping my life at the moment. Even my husband knows who she is – and is a fan! My issue is getting rid of stuff can be a little more complicated when it’s not (or wasn’t) your stuff in the first place. It’s not as easy as she makes it seem. And what does one do if its the other person’s stuff you would rather see go than your own?
Since my husband and I married 25 years ago, every damn quarter, hubby gets this purging itch. Honest to God! Sometimes, he makes me crazy with his frequent purging’s. Besides, we’ve had this ongoing debate on the definition of what organized looks like and at this point I’m done with his version.
Yes, he’s right, our home needs frequent organizing. It’s a fact of life around here. Those of you who have a home-based business, or hobby(s), understand it can take over the whole house if not properly managed. I get it.
In our case, we have extras to deal with. We have a child with a severe disability, and there are medical supplies and equipment to keep track of. Add in a nurse with her own style of organizing (and yes, she comes with stuff too!). Plus our regular life stuff, like sporting activities we enjoy, (equipment, special shoes, clothes, helmets, accessories, etc.) and before long, things are out of control. Where do you put it all?
During the fair/craft show season, our basement ends up being the dump site for my products and supplies when I need to reclaim the living space quickly.
And, yes, if I can, I avoid or delay “organizing day” as much as possible – I will! I hate cleaning and organizing – yes, I admit it freely. I’d rather weed an overgrown flowerbed than face any dump site in my home. Especially the basement!
Opposite Points of View:
If you ask my husband if I’m organized, he’ll paint an extremely exaggerated picture of a hoarder that’s buried alive by her “stuff.” He sees little value in family heirlooms, antiques or a personal library of books and “periodicals” (aka magazines/catalogs).
I admit, my “library” is housed in the entire house, on every floor in just about every room (yes, I’m working on consolidating…) To him its all clutter. But if you ask me for something, I know where almost everything is, or at least the room I zoned for that category, and I can retrieve it fairly quickly. I call it “loosely” organized.
If you ask me if my husband is organized. I’ll laugh and tell you there is a whole lot of work to be done. What he considers treasure, I think trash. He loves to collect his “trophies” which are useless trinkets of his present and past stuffed in closets, boxes, drawers, corners of rooms, basement, or garage.
Things like large rubber bugs, a set of boob implants (don’t ask…), miscellaneous 40-year-old yellowed hand typed papers from a job he once had. Ugly as hell faded old pictures that previously hung in his office for decades, old ticket stubs, statutes, and strange pictures of various people.
He’s got a home video collection of sporting events that can be found on a classic sports channel or Youtube at any time. He’s never watched them since he taped them. Why do we need our own crappy copy? I ask him. The best part is if you ask him what or where something is, I’m not sure he could remember he has it, or where to find it.
Our Organizational Styles:
In previous cleanings, I’ve left him standing in the mess, angry and frustrated because I felt he was making a bigger mess than what we started with. My point has always been his idea of “organized” was making more work for me in the end.
My Style: I prefer things grouped in “like” categories. Everything has its own permanent place. I want segregated identified space for my business equipment/supplies, our food, and our daughter’s medical supplies etc.
For example, a shelving unit for all my kitchen equipment. Things like oversized pots. Electric skillets, mixers, large commercial containers, oversized cookie sheets, and cast iron Dutch ovens, canning jars, etc.
I like things in boxes labeled with the list of items on the outside. I also want to use vertical space to hang things from hooks and nails so when I’m looking for something I can freaking find it!
His Style: Throw everything in a bag or box then toss it in a closet, drawer, any shelf, garage, including the rafters, shed or under a bed or couch. Its the PFS way – the Perpetual Find System – out of sight out of mind – therefore organized. The reality is nothing gets organized or purged and hours are wasted looking for that one thing I need.
What really makes me crazy is when I decide to toss (or donate) something, I find it months later in a bag or box in the garage. It never made it out of the house! AHHHH! Why did I clean in the first place when it was only moved from one spot to another! And that my friends is our organizing dilemma.
I warned my daughter’s nurse she may come to work on Monday with me still locked in the basement clawing at the door like a crazed cat howling. Please recuse me. But be warned there may be a body down there with me.
She’s on my side (if there is a side to be on…) she’s worked here long enough and experienced “PFS Operation Organize Day!”
One year he organized her supplies and messed up her counting and product expiration system. OMG! That wasn’t pretty – that was years ago, and I’m still hearing about it! Message receive LOUD AND CLEAR! Don’t mess with the nurse’s supplies!
Her parting words out the door on Friday, chuckling of course, (I’m sure she’s thanking God she off for the weekend), “Good luck you two! And don’t touch my supplies!”
It’s not that I don’t agree we need to get organized – it’s essential for a healthy life and, like my husband, I hate living in clutter too. Its how we find the right space for the supplies is the problem. How do we find the middle ground to make it work? Blowing up a room and starting over, in my opinion, makes the job much more difficult and stressful than it needs to be.
When it comes to my business and kitchen stuff – it’s now organized by my rules period. I’m done hunting for my stuff. When I say throw something out I mean toss (donate) whatever, but it has to physically leave the house in a timely manner!
I insist things be categorized by “like” things. Kitchen stuff will remain separated from my business supplies. Medical supplies will be separated from food etc. My stuff will not be mixed together on shelves, closets or packed off to the shed.
Once a spot has been designated for a grouping, it stays that way. No more moving things around and changing locations every time we organize, unless it makes sense to move it.
Making Decisions – Keep or Toss:
I don’t have a problem getting rid of stuff. I’ll frequently walk through the house looking around asking myself…have I used or worn this in the last year or two? Do I need this to further my business/life in the future and make a mental note?
Once I’ve made a decision, I can quickly go through a room and say keep, toss, donate; which sometimes freaks my husband (and nurse) out because it appears I’m making a hasty decision.
For me, its pretty cut and dry by that time. If I’m not ready to get rid of it because of sentimental reasons (or fear a backlash from a family member); or I think I’ll need it at some point. Then it stays for another year and I’ll re-evaluate the next time we organize.
Yes, I’ve tossed things I’ve regretted and had to replace them, and I’m okay with that. I think its better to replace something than hang on to that “thing” for fear I may need it someday and never do.
For this organizing session, I’m reviewing some of the family heirlooms. Is it time to let them go? I have 5 sets of fine china. One set was wedding china from an old relationship over 35 years ago. Its never been used and never will be. The rest I inherited.
I once had a dream of opening a tea house, or have garden tea parties in our backyard or even open a bed and breakfast. I planned to use those beautiful dishes.
Well, to be honest, life has a funny way of happening, and those dreams evaporated long ago. So this year, (regardless of family feelings), I think it’s time to eliminate some of the china and downsize the dishes. I kept the 2 prettiest sets and got rid of the rest.
I also decided to ditch my everyday plates and replace them with one of the two sets I kept. Auntie Max’s pretty rose china won the upgrade to the kitchen. What the hell right? I might as well use them. As long as no one puts them in the microwave, they should survive for a while.
By the way, never put good china in the microwave. It cracks the glaze and plates. Washing them in the dishwasher seems to be ok, but I won’t be surprised if the gold trim eventually gets worn off.
The other set is Grandma Davis’s flower china. It’s a pretty set. It has a creamy off white, yellowish color with little pink and blue flowers with gold trim. I’m proud to say I’m the 3rd generation to receive them. Many years ago, I suggested my Mother give her wedding china to someone else and that I’d take Grandma’s china. She was a bit surprised and said it wasn’t worth anything. Why would I want them? I replied, they have value to me, and I’m thrilled to have them.
So, Grandma’s china stays on its special shelf in the basement where they’ve been for the last 25 years. The plan is when Auntie Max’s china gets broken I’ll dig Grandma’s out and use them. I might as well enjoy using my stuff and not feel guilty if things get chipped or broken.
Besides, part of living a healthy life is creating moments of happiness. Happiness doesn’t happen in a vacuum you have to make it happen. Small things like eating a meal on a pretty dish can really make the difference. It just makes me happy.
And so on the eve of another major snowstorm here in New England, we were able to relax by a beautiful crackling fire after emerging from the basement intact – happy, kissing and hugging each other in triumph we survived another purging without bloodshed or tears.
No, things aren’t perfect by my husband’s standards. But things are organized enough that he says he’s not overwhelmed and doesn’t feel like he’s buried alive (he’s such a Drama Queen…).
I’m satisfied I can find my supplies by scanning boxes on shelves and seeing what I need fairly quickly.
My dried herbs are in glass jars properly labeled, neatly organized by groups. My bottles of essential oils are grouped alphabetically (that was a huge and significant project!) And my extra packaging supplies are in boxes and labeled accurately.
I’m ready for the new season! Everything has a place and marked. Yes, I’m grateful for my husband’s help and couldn’t have done it without him. Thank you Sweetie – you are the best! I love you!
But Not Done:
There is still a great deal more purging/downsizing to be done. There is a spare room that has boxes with thousands of pictures that need to be sorted and either scanned onto a computer or tossed.
Then there is all those drawers and closets filled with my husbands hidden “treasures” that needs addressing. I’ve mentioned to him more than once its TIME to deal with your stuff instead of just focusing on mine. The rubber bugs and boobs implants really need to go!
But I’ll leave that to him and him alone to deal with. The last thing I want to do is organize someone else’s crap when I still have plenty of my own, plus our daughter’s to deal with.
Those sets of china I inherited also came with the previous owners family pictures…I cringe at the thought of more organizing….but someone has to sort them and decide to keep or toss. I’m the designated family historian, and eventually, a book will be written on our family history. My goal is to create a digital filing system (or library) so I can retrieve information more efficiently and ditch the physical picture or paper.
Another Day Is On the Horizon:
I’m safe for now, but I know another organizing day is in my near future. I see my husband eyeing the greenhouse, and his fingers are starting twitch. He can’t help himself. Ugh! Maybe I should rent him out? Anyone? This organizing stuff never ends…I think I see another flowerbed that needs weeding…
I’m curious, do you think Marie Kondo will still appear to have everything all neat and tidy in her life in 25 – 30 years?…
If you’re interested (or must face) your own Organizing Day, here are some great organizing books I found helpful over the years. I own these books (or at least used to – maybe one or two may have been purged from my library) in any event, I highly recommend them.
- Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House, by Cheryl Mendelson
- Laundry: The Home Comforts Book of Caring for Clothes & Linens, by, Cheryl Mendelson
- The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, 2nd Edition (A Gardener’s Supply Book), by Eliot Coleman. Note: This book has a section on organizing garden supplies and equipment which I found helpful.
Purchased but haven’t read yet…
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo
Please note: these books are affiliate links to Amazon. I participate in their affiliate program and earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to purchase the books using these links.
Update: 2 trips to the donation center have been made so far, and hubby tells me he as a few more car loads to go! And a dump run is being discussed for the rest. YeeHaw! We’re making progress!