the details

Remember when I used to blog every day? Sigh. Moving on.

There is something you should know about me:
When I was a little girl I hated to clean my room, the bathroom, the living room, the stairs...okay. I hated to clean anything. This is probably true of most children. Yet my mom was persistent and I at least learned how to do the job well, even if I didn't like it. My parents were more lenient on my room [which I wrote a little about here], but every so often I'd get the edict to clean it.

I'm sure my mom was always afraid I would become like the girl that Ross dated on an episode of Friends once. You know, The One With the Dirty Girl? Ross is trying to explain to Joey how dirty this girl's apartment is and says, "You know how you throw your jacket on a chair at the end of the day? Well, like that, only that instead of a chair it's a pile of garbage. And instead of a jacket it's a pile of garbage. And instead of the end of the day it's the end of time, and garbage is all that has survived."

To everyone's surprise though, I've actually become quite the opposite. I like to keep things clean. Truth be told, I even enjoy the therapy of cleaning [I still hate dusting]. But more than that, I like organization: a place for everything and everything in its place. Am I the best at it? By all means no. If I had money to blow though, you better believe I would shop everyday at thecontainerstore.com.

It's just this: towards the end of college, though I was still sleeping with a pile of clothes at the end of my bed, I realized that everyday life was just easier and more enjoyable if I kept things semi-organized. I.E. if I knew where my folder of essays was and didn't have to dig through the coffee cabinet to find them in the five minutes I allowed myself to get ready before heading to class [time management? That's another post for another day… :/] .

When we moved into our house, I knew I wanted to keep things simple and organized. But here is the kicker: we went and had two babies and a system that worked for two adults, just didn't cut it for two kids [and all their crap necessities]. It's been a work in progress, but I feel like I've finally nailed down some "systems" that work for us.

// purge, purge, purge. I routinely get rid of stuff. I try to touch everything in every closet twice a year, which typically results in donating and throwing away a large amount and therefore freeing up space we need, or just freeing up space and helping me breathe a little easier. When there is an extra shelf open in your closet, it just makes you feel better, right? [Is there something wrong with me?]

//contain, contain, contain. I wrote a post awhile ago when I organized my kitchen again. I talked a lot about the need for containers…AND how those containers don't have to designated for JUST ONE PURPOSE. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with organization because they think they have to have a spice rack for spices, a magazine rack for magazines etc. etc. etc. [Right, Kali?] But really, you just need a container that fits your needs. I have baskets of all shapes and sizes all over my house for a variety of purposes. The key is: they each have a purpose. I only have one that is used as a catch all. When everyone in the family knows that basket's purpose, it's easy to keep the right things in it [and to know where to find them the next time you need them!] Some examples of containers in our house:
\I have two small baskets outside the girls rooms in the hallway. When they are napping or sleeping and I find something that belongs in their room, I put it in their basket. When they are awake, I can easily transfer things from their baskets to their rooms. 
\ I have a basket on the bathroom sink that holds lotion and washcloths and medicine we use frequently. I know if I didn't have this spot then that stuff would just get left all over the counter or thrown in a random drawer. 
a terrible iphone picture of my bathroom. 

\ I have a basket in the living room for Becks and Blythe's books. Otherwise they would get dragged into the living room and find a place somewhere they didn't belong, never to be returned to a bookshelf. 

//pictures and labels. I needed to make things simple enough that a two year old could do it. On all of the baskets that contain Blythe's toys, there are pictures and labels of what goes there. It took about a day of insisting she put things where their picture was…now it's just second nature to her. 

Nothing fancy, but labeled so Blythe can do it

And that's about it. We have found if there is a place for something, we tend to put it there. Of course, every few months there are certain baskets I have to go through [like the bathroom one, or our mail/bills one], but usually they stay pretty organized as is. Also, when it comes to Blythe's toys, I find that organizing them by type not only helps her, but it makes it easy to see when there is too much of something. Before I sorted things this way, I thought she needed more "cookware" and utensils, but now I can see she has a basket full, and that is more than enough. [This is the hardest thing for Blythe to sort and keep organized on her own: plates and pans and forks etc are in one basket, and her food is in a different one. She's catching on though.] 

Beyond organizing things though, it's important to me to keep things picked up and cleaned also. Here is my basic schedule I try and stick to:

Pick up
Clean Kitchen
* I load/unload dishwasher, wash dishes on counter, and wipe up all the counters and table. 

Meal planning 
*A lot of times I touch up bathrooms throughout week, but every Monday I try and deep clean them. 
*I usually meal plan for two or three weeks in advance, so usually this is an every other week item. [This is also something that, if you ask Brent, has been on the back burner since baby #2 until recently. Whew. Took me a bit to get back on this saddle. ]

Clean up Mudroom
*I TRYtryTRY to wash AND fold AND put away on this day, but I loathe folding laundry so much that this often gets pushed back. 

Empty all trashcans 
*I sweep the kitchen and mudroom [mop every other week], and vacuum other rooms. [I sweep around Blythe's spot daily… I should get a dog. And I often vacuum more often because I enjoy it.

*I hate dusting. That is why I leave it as the only thing for this day, thinking I'll actually get it done. 

Budget/Balance Checkbook

Saturday & Sunday:
What needs it
*I try to leave the weekends open to spend time with Brent or work on bigger projects I don't get to during the week

Usually one day I clean out our van too or it just implodes on itself [does anyone else have this problem?]. 

Why do I create a schedule and think organization is important?

Because I think there is freedom in boundaries. I was explaining to Brent the other day that I was so much more relaxed now that I was back on track with my cleaning schedule after softball. If I don't stick to a schedule, I jump from place to place and never fully clean anything and perpetually feel like there is something that has to be done. It stresses me out. The schedule gives me freedom because I know that if I have dusted today, that's all I have to do. I shouldn't feel like I need to clean the bathroom too. I don't need to throw in a load of laundry. Everything has its time.

I wrote in this post that I'm reading "The Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot. There is a chapter titled "A Habit of Order." She talks about how, growing up, her home was orderly and how she took for granted "the sense of things being placed." She went on to say "Our little world could be counted on to stay the way it was, safe, structured, and pretty much the same every day." To Elliot, an ordered home meant "not only acceptance of God's arrangement of authority,… but also making sure that there [was] a place for everything. If there [wasn't], it probably [meant] there [were] too many things."

This view of "uncluttered efficiency" struck me, because it wasn't something I had ever really put words to, but once I read her description I thought, Yes! That's it! 

And so, if I come over to your house and you don't live like me, that's totally fine. Seriously. It is. I love you and your dirty microwave. However, for me there is freedom in the schedule and less confusion in the sense of things being placed. So I will cling to my label makers and storage containers; I will cling to my uncluttered efficiency.

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*carrie* said...

Thanks for sharing, Kelsey. I love containers, too! I like things to be organized, but I've gotten way more relaxed (sometimes too much so!) as our family has grown.

There's that "freedom in boundaries" thing again!

I follow a daily task schedule, too. It helps me so much. Laundry is a little less exact, but usually MWF. I find that if I go more than 2-3 days without doing a load, it becomes overwhelming.

I hate dusting, too, and for me, it's (ahem) less than once a week. =)

tara // etsetara said...

i really appreciate this post, kelsey. seriously.

one thing i have going for me now is 400 square feet of living space. it's AMAZING how fast it can be cleaned up! ha!
putting laundry away = 3 square feet of floor space returned.
putting clean dishes away = a countertop again!

aaanyway. even though i live in 1/5 of the space i had in joplin i found things you wrote about that were helpful to me.

hope you're all well!