Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Organized Living

I know that everyone is probably getting really sick of hearing me talk about organizing my house and life. To be honest, I'm getting pretty sick of it, too. But I have to say, even though it seems like I'm having a semi-serious love affair with my label maker, that I'm feeling much less like pulling my hair out and much more like relaxing with a glass of wine in my mess-free home.

So, I thought I'd compile a list of the things that I'm doing, or at least trying to do, to keep me in that happy place.

1. Go to bed every night with a clean kitchen. This one can be a challenge. So many nights after cooking dinner and giving Anna a bath and putting her to bed, the last thing I want to do is head back into the kitchen to wash a bunch of dishes and wipe down counter tops. As tempting as it is to leave all that stuff for the morning, waking up to a messy kitchen seems to set the tone for my day. And since Anna's favorite game is "climb into the dishwasher and try to pull out knives", getting it all done when she's asleep just makes a lot more sense.

2. Don't let clean dishes sit out, waiting to be put away. I was a big-time abuser of my dish-drying rack. Like, if there was a game show to see who could stack the most dishes on one of those things without letting them all come crashing down, I would have won. I hate putting stuff away, so I didn't - I just kept adding to the pile. Finding the things I needed became like playing Jenga - can I pull this spatula out from underneath this frying pan and mixing bowl without collapsing everything? So my sister made me do a crazy thing. I threw away my dish-drying rack.  Instead, I have this new little absorbent mat. I can fit a couple of things on it, but it pretty much ensures that I'll put things in their proper places within a reasonable amount of time. Again, not having a huge mountain of clean dishes to look at sets the tone for the rest of the kitchen.

3. A place for everything, everything in its place. I didn't come up with this one - in fact, I think it's a pretty common expression, especially in the organizing world. My sister shared it with me, and she got it from her organizer friend Carol. (Side note - this woman is amazing. And if I had a lot more money, I would definitely hire her to come to my house instead of forcing my sister to do it all for free! In fact, I still might, since Kristin told me yesterday that some of my closets were a little "daunting" for her. Hmmphf.) I'm working really hard on putting things away, in the same spot, so I know where I can find them. Remember the pictures I posted of my bathroom closet? I can't tell you how amazing it is to think "Oh, I need a nail file" and instead of rummaging through eight different drawers and looking under the couch and rifling through my purse, I just walk over to the drawer that's labeled "Nails" and pull out what I need, and put it back when I'm finished. Genius!

4. Baby proof the crap out of your house. Obviously, if you don't have small, devilish children running around, you can skip this step. Up until a few weeks ago, I had done minimal baby proofing. I'm not saying my house was a death trap - I had locks on all the cabinets that contained chemicals to keep Anna from chugging bleach and gates up to prevent her from tumbling down the stairs.  But I had never bothered to install latches on all the drawers in my bathroom. So while hair clips and extra toothbrushes and tubes of lipstick don't pose an immediate threat to Anna's safety, they were definitely imposing on the neatness of my house. Because as quick as I could gather those things up and put them away, she was right back in there flinging them around. Same thing goes for my kitchen. Tupperware containers aren't necessarily dangerous, but having twelve of them strewn about the floor makes it a little difficult to keep up an organized appearance.  My awesome husband got out the power drill a few weeks ago and installed latches on our bathroom drawers and I locked up all the kitchen cupboards that Anna can reach. Even though I feel kind of bad for her when she's yanking in frustration on the drawers and cabinets that now won't open, it's pretty great that this won't be happening again...

Is there something on my face?

5. Make the bed every morning. Again, this one is all about setting the tone. A made bed just looks nicer, and it's much harder for me to justify flinging dirty clothes on the floor when our sheets and comforter aren't in a tangled mess and all the throw pillows are arranged neatly.

6. Put laundry away IMMEDIATELY! I think this one might be the toughest for me. I've written about it before. Like I said earlier, I hate putting things away. So often, I fold laundry and then just leave it sitting in the basket, thinking to myself that I'll put it all away before bed. And then bedtime comes and I'm exhausted so I put if off again and before I know it the clean laundry is mixed in the with the dirty and I have to start all over again. I've been trying really, really hard to stay on top of this one, even if it means putting Mike's laundry away for him too. Even though I don't like it, I know it's a necessary evil and in the long run will be totally worth it.

So there you have it. I still have a long way to go, but I think these things are definitely helping me conquer my inner messy demons.

Any tricks or tips you would recommend? 'Cause you know I still need all the help I can get...

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