Wouldn’t it be nice to come home from work one day and find your living space as calm, neat and uncluttered as all the home magazine photos gazing back at you from the grocery store check-out line?
I’m not sure why I get a primal urge to purge my household in January, but obviously, magazine editors believe most American women get the same impulse.
Pick up any women’s publication and you will be bombarded with “10 easy tips” to organize your space so it will look like a photographer’s dream shot.
Pristine counters. Neatly organized desk. Uncluttered family room. Carefully cleaned closets where everything is perfectly poised on shelves. Supposedly.
Organizing your home takes time. I wonder how many women have time to properly clean their houses, let alone time to stash everything in neat little rows of containers. And that’s another thing. Who can afford all of those nifty, spiffy bins, boxes and binders that perfectly match your décor?
I recently read an article in Better Homes and Gardens entitled, “25 Ways to Declutter for the New Year.” Organizing experts provided the tips; some were useful, some I thought lacked practicality (my middle name!).
One guru suggested setting up a bookshelf perched by your front door with labeled pails (yes, buckets!) “for each family member’s shoes and other equipment.” Hmm, ever tried getting pairs of size 11 men’s sneakers and soccer cleats in a bucket?
Do you know how many buckets – excuse me – pails it would take to store shoes for a family of five? And might I add, that’s certainly what I want guests arriving at my front door to notice – buckets of smelly shoes. Here’s a novel idea instead. How about everyone pick up their own shoes and take them to their respective closets?
Is it me or is this idea just plain kooky? Another expert suggested you arrange two coffee dates with a good friend, apparently one at her house, then one at yours. Forget about a relaxing moment of peace with your friend and your favorite beverage.
Nope, on this visit, you should clean out her kitchen cabinets and get rid of her clutter. Then on the next “date,” your friend should clean out yours. Yeah, that sounds like (major sarcasm here) fun. I don’t know about you, but I’m not up for snooping in my friends’ kitchen cupboards nor am I crazy about them checking out mine either!
To be fair, some ideas proved winners. If toys threaten to overtake your house, “quietly tuck a few of them away in a box. If kids ask for a specific item, retrieve it. After a month, donate what’s left in the box.” When three rambunctious young children squandered their toys all over Mama’s Empty Nest back in the day, hubby and I employed this technique…sort of.
Of course, we didn’t do it quietly. When our kids delayed picking up their toys, we yelled, grabbed up all the toys and dumped them into a garbage bag which was deposited in the garage. And it stayed there, promptly forgotten, until we found the “lost” toys when we prepared to move a couple of years later.
I don’t have to contend with toys any more, but a stockpile of too much stuff still overloads our basement. How pleasant it would look organized in tidy fashion with shelves and color-coded storage containers like all of these pretty magazine pictures. Oh well….no photographer will be taking pictures of my basement anyway! At least I hope not!
So in Chapter 1, Page 7 (January 7th) of my book of Opportunity, guess where I spent a good portion of the day? You guessed it, cleaning out the basement. Hey, I can walk through it now!