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Mom's Time Out


Mary Angel

(9/2012) Organize, de-clutter and purge are considered curse words around me. Alright it isn’t quite that bad. I am however a lost cause. I have spent many hours, days and it even feels like years trying to get organized. It is most likely never going to happen. I have even enlisted the help of friends and family to no avail. I have however discovered many interesting tidbits of information about organizing that I wouldn’t have necessarily known without my constant struggle with chaos.

The first of these is that there is no sense in trying to organize if you have way too much stuff. Let’s face it; unless you are a minimalist if you have kids you have too much stuff. Whether it be the kids clothes or toys (or my crafts…ugh!) if you have too much then there is no way to organize it and in many cases you do not have the room to store it all. That being said I am a sentimentalist and a hoarder which is a very bad combination. So this is definitely a case of do as I say, not as I do. Recently I have gotten better at purging clothes if I take a picture of those favorite outfits the kids have worn. This handy little photography trick also works for school art work and projects as well. I have found that the toys and baby items are easier to part with if I have a friend who can use them or a charity to donate them to.

So once you have gotten rid of about half of the chaos, it is now time to begin organizing. Keep in mind that your organization system has to work for you. Also remember it isn’t always about buying new organizational tools but about working with what you have. Speaking from experience I have about ten different containers for filing or sorting papers/bills. Yet I never use any of them. This tidbit carries over to the kids’ toys and how you organize them. If your child can’t reach the upper shelves do not put their favorite toys (or any heavy ones) up there. If they can’t read label their toy bins with photographs of what is in the bin. The most difficult thing for me to wrap myself around, because I am a sentimentalist, is if the kids have outgrown a toy, even if it is your favorite for them, get rid of it! This also means that you do not need to keep every piece of art work, every math test, and every science project they do. Again, keep your favorites and take pictures of the rest. We have friends that have framed their favorite art pieces over the years and their guest bath is like a gallery. With four kids my guest bath would have to be wallpapered in my favorites, from floor to ceiling. As I stated earlier I am a big proponent of taking pictures of the art work and maybe even making a scrapbook of just those. Another tip that worked great for my mother was bagging up half the toys and placing them in the attic. Every six months or so she would rotate the toy stock and bring out "new" toys. My brother and I would think they were new and play like crazy until the next rotation.

My next tip is to enlist the help of a friend (although most of my friends would tell you I am a lost cause). Choose which friend wisely could be yet another tidbit. I have one friend that is just as sentimental as I am and also believes that if the kids have gotten a toy out in the last year or so why get rid of it. In her defense she feels kids only stay young for a very short amount of time and are forced to grow up too fast, so why rush it. Needless to say she wasn’t a big help at purging the kids toys. I have another friend who is a little OCD and a complete neat freak. You would think she is an excellent choice for any purging job, not exactly. One look at my chaos and she ran screaming from the room. So just make sure you are enlisting someone who will be helpful and someone who you will not end up with hurt feelings from when they tell you to suck it up and just let go. Alright maybe that is a little harsh but you get the point, purging can be a little stressful.

Lastly I can say every organizing book I have read, and there have been a lot, has said to take one room at a time. If one room is too much, they suggest a closet, or a dresser, or a shelf to get started. This is great advice that I would add to. I have started a lot of purging/organization projects only to run out of time and when I get back to it (especially the kids toys) they have destroyed what I have accomplished. So set attainable goals that cannot be waylaid by other people. And by all means be realistic with those goals, after all there are other people living in the house with you.

In closing I would like to say good luck and remember that purging and organization are the opposite of chaos, at least in my house. Someday I will find that happy medium between living life to its fullest and still being organized. That place where you are leaving the house to go out with your girlfriends and you don’t have to lose your mind trying to find your keys, and your wallet, and your purse, and your…

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