My aunt has been visiting, and she and my mom were going to cook dinner and serve it for everyone yesterday. I suggested my house instead of mom’s small apartment, since it’s bigger and more room for everyone to move around and the kids could swim while they cook and play instead of getting fussed at. So the two women came with food in hand and I took the 8 and almost two year old and we went to play.
Mom came out and asked “where are your pans?” “Face the stove, on your left.”
“Where is the “aluminum foil?” “Face the sink, second drawer down.”
This went on all afternoon, as she needed various items in my kitchen and pantry. I was able to not only tell her they were in the pantry, but what shelf and what side of the pantry. My mom and my aunt are not organized women. I love both of them, but they would have had to hunt in their own kitchens for those items before they could have told me where they were. Because I keep my kitchen well organized, I was able to continue playing with my two little cousins and didn’t have to go into the kitchen to find a single thing all afternoon. It felt really good.
Now sure, keeping a house well organized is work. I’ll be the first to admit it takes work, time, and attention. But it does have payoffs.
1) It saves time and money: I only own 1 of each item, because each item in my house has a place and it stays in it’s place. So I don’t need several versions of that item, because I can never find it. This not only saves me money, it saves me time, because I am not always looking for the item.
2) It eliminates stress. Instead of searching and searching for an item and then giving up and sending a teenager to the store to buy it, I knew where the item was. (Yes, even my egg plate. LOL) It’s stressful to always be searching for items you can’t find.
3) It eliminates clutter. If I only have one of each item and they each have a place, then I have less items, hence less clutter. I live in a large house. I have plenty of room. But I have very little stuff. I have plenty of furniture for each room, but not a lot of clutter. My office probably is the most cluttered, because it houses my genealogy books, and photocopies, plus all the guinea pig stuff.
4) It eliminates debt. Purchasing something you already own, because you can’t find it, causes debt. When my mother moved she had 4 copies of the same CD, all still in the shrink wrap. She’d never listened to it at all, because she could not find it and she kept forgetting she owned it. Having a place for it would have meant that she would have listened to it and not repurchased it. It would have meant about $40 in her pocket too.
5) It eliminates anger. Not only does the person who lives with too much stuff stay angry, because they can’t deal with the frustration of never finding anything, but the people who eventually have to deal with the stuff when they die or go into a nursing home, or a small living space have to deal with a lot of anger. It’s a life wasted on stuff. Purchasing stuff instead of living life.
I am not opposed to owning things. I own beautiful things. My great grandmother’s platter hangs on my kitchen wall. It has all the scratches from numerous meals she served her family. My husband’s grandmother’s corn bowl is in my cabinet. I serve corn in it almost every night, just like she did. My mother’s beautiful quilts adorn my children’s beds every holiday, a reminder of a time when she had too much time on her hands and a lot of stress to deal with and she sewed to deal with it. The antique sewing machine my dad redid just for me, because he knew I loved beautiful things. It’s a trestle sewing machine and it still works. A beautiful dresser I bought at a consignment shop to store the kids school supplies in. It’s absolutely gorgeous. You see each of those things have meaning to me and they take up room in my house.
But what doesn’t take up room are clothes that no longer make me look nice. If they don’t fit or are torn, I get rid of them, they may look nice on someone else. Toys the kids no longer play with go as well. Some other child may play with them. I did keep some special toys, legos, a dollhouse, hotwheels, for my grandkids and for when I have kids come to visit. They’ve come in handy this week.
Once you get rid of the things that you don’t need and that aren’t beautiful any more, then you can make room for the things in your life that are. My house is very sparsely decorated. On the walls are ancestors pictures, and a few clocks that I grew up hearing cuckoo. They don’t work anymore, but are still gorgeous works of art.
Yup, it’s nice to be able to tell exactly where everything in your house is. Yes, I have three kids, so sometimes they aren’t there when I go looking. I admit, sometimes I have to holler and say, “Who has my scissors!” But at least I know they are missing. And it feels good to put the item back in its place…
It also feels good to be able to get up in the middle of the night and walk around in the total darkness of my house without tripping. I know where all the furniture is and there’s nothing in the floor to fall over. Because the rooms are mostly open spaces, I can walk freely, even in the middle of the night. That feels really good and safe.