Friday, January 04, 2008

Getting Organized

Ok, I have a confession to make. I am a bit of a neat freak. I am a firm believer in the notion that everything should have its own little home, and as soon as things are finished serving their purpose, they ought to be returned to their home. I think I have always been this way, but the first time I remember realizing that I place a high value on neatness and orderliness was when I went off to college and had to live with a complete stranger who was also a complete slob. Let's just say that the arrangement didn't go well for either of us.

(A side note: Oddly, this impulse to keep things neat and orderly does not extend to my car. My car is a perpetual mess--Aaron loves to marvel at how I am so anal about the house yet have a really messy car. My dad affectionately refers to it as "The Camper" because it has enough stuff piled in it that he thinks we could probably live in there. At times, it seems that I ought to petition the government for some disaster relief to clean it up.)

Naturally, having a child has forced me to relax my standards of neatness a bit. I read a quote once that said something like, "Cleaning up after a child is like trying to dust in a windstorm." How true. I've given up trying to clean up while Grace is awake or at home. I usually just attempt to do laundry or dishes when the little one is around. I must say, though, that Gracie has gotten pretty darn good at picking up after herself when I ask her to. A lovely development, that.

Living with Aaron has forced me to relax my standards a bit as well. He has lived on his own for years and is used to living the way he wants to, and if that means leaving folded laundry on the living room floor for a week, then so be it. (If I, on the other hand, don't put laundry away on the day it's done, I go berserk.) Ah's great fun reconciling those huge differences.

Anyway, this week I have decided to tackle the daunting task of finding new homes all of our new Christmas gifts. Grace got an abundance of new (and large) toys this year and Aaron and I made pretty decent hauls ourselves. Figuring out how to cram this extra stuff into a house that is already bursting at the seams has not been easy. We have a great house but it is seriously deficient in storage space. We have four closets in the whole house (five if I count the pantry) and those closets are all pretty small. Aaron and Grace have to share a closet upstairs while I have another (mostly) to myself, and the other two closets are full enough that I wouldn't want to try to pack anything else into them. Simply put, we have far too much stuff and not enough room for it all. And, to top it off, our spacious basement is still full of boxes that I have yet to unpack from my move to Milwaukee in August. I think I haven't bothered to unpack them because I have no clue what to do with all of the stuff and frankly, if I haven't needed this stuff since August, I'm wondering if I need it at all. Knowing that there is so much disorganization in the house has been stressing me out.

After removing all of our gifts from their packaging (which was a task in itself), I set out in search for places to put the new stuff. Three days later, I am finally finished. It came down to me versus a stack of three sweaters that I got as gifts...I had absolutely no more room in my closet for even one more sweater, so I rolled up my sleeves, dumped out my dresser drawers, and forced myself to purge clothes until it hurt. At the end, I had several paper grocery bags full of stuff ready to take to the thrift store and plenty of space for my new sweaters.

This left me feeling inspired and so I'm adding another resolution to my New Year's list. I will get this house organized and under control and, since I hear a resolution won't work out unless there is a goal date attached to it, I will accomplish this by my birthday, which is March 1. (Ok, I didn't arbitrarily pick my b-day...we are planning a party for that day and I know I can force myself to do this if I know we're gonna be having guests.) I find myself feeling incredibly excited--yes, excited--at the idea of rifling through Grace's and Aaron's clothes and through Grace's toys and being able to give away enough stuff to actually have room what's left over. My local Value Village will soon have an influx of new inventory straight from our house.

Maybe next I will tackle our shoe storage program...we have a back entry way with beautiful wainscoting that Aaron painstakingly cut and hung by himself last year, and it's littered with our shoes. It's a sad state of affairs.