Home Organization: A Pile For Everything, and Most Things In Their Piles

This could also be called, “Why it took me four babies to create a diaper basket” and falls under the “Behave So Your Children Will, Too” category. This would be the time for most of you (not only the super-organized ones) , to feel all superior and smug about your togetherness as I air my dirty laundry.

Why did it take me four babies?

First, because I’m a slow learner. I fail to understand that throwing all changing items–wipes, diapers, pull-ups, changing mats, in the same basket, and keeping that basket in the same place, would take me far less time than wandering the house, both hands full of a poopy, dripping baby, wondering where I left the wipes–every day for over eight years.

When it comes to organization, I am like a sweet, empty-headed, simpleton: I continually walk into a closed door, look confused, shake it off, and determinedly charge forward again into the door. Then the process repeats.

Second, because, if I believed in Adult ADD, I would have to tell you that I have it crazy-bad, but since I don’t believe in it, I guess we’re all good there.

Third, because I refuse to spend $5, let alone the $50+ it would probably take, to buy the needed organizing materials. I refuse to even set foot into a Container store. I don’t know where I’d even put the organizing stuff, for one, and I don’t need the organizing stuff to simply add to the piles of stuff around it that should have been organized and put in to the organizing equipment.

And, in the same vein, I am too lazy to scout yard sales, craigslist or freecycle for said equipment. Seriously, who has time? Oh, I’m sorry–you do, and I would too if I would quit blogging. Fine, my fault again.

But, at a recent Swap-n-Drop with my local mom’s group I was left with a large basket, and I was left with the choice to either walk it over to the Goodwill bin where we held it (a DI bin, really, for you who know what that means), or I could put it in my van, which was closer. Laziness, and therefore, organization, prevailed.

I put the big basket in my room. I threw everything baby-bum-related in the basket (even the Desitin, which I hid from prying eyes (mouths). Magically, I found I always knew where the changing stuff was. I also tended to change my babies in one place now, and used a mat more often (it’s right there, after all, how lazy am I!), limiting germs and accidental yuckiness to my bedspread, and not every flat surface in my home, as before. I felt so together, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve actually been in other mothers’ homes and knew that this was actually basic human mother behavior, I would have been even more impressed with myself.

I’ve given up on the idea that I’m going to have everything organized, and have instead settled on pile control. Can I just tell you how great this has been for me? Instead of papers all over the house, I have a mommy paper pile, and a kid’s current school paper pile. Sure, it takes some time to sift through and find something in all those bills, interesting unread articles, forms, avoided mail, and “will-do-when-I-have-time” paperwork that has been there for eight years, but I will find it.

Then I ran across these big envelopes in a drawer somewhere and put one for each kid on the bookshelf, where I can keep the endless supply of “treasures” from throughout the school year, then I’ll just stick it in a box and get a new envelope out for next year (What really happened: the bookshelf now has an envelope for each kid for both last year and for this year, but since I’m still finding art from last year under beds and in closets, it works out that I never boxed them up).

Then there were these little cubby shelves a friend offered me, and hey, I was at her house, the van was right there, so what the heck. Now we put all our shoes in them by the door. Then I added the job of organizing the area to my daughter’s daily chore chart, and viola! I’m that much closer to being up to (a well-handicapped) par.

See, as long as I just happen upon the organizational tool and have to put forth minimal effort, I’m not opposed to it. Laziness is a recurring theme here, so I guess the slow-learning, ADD, and cheapness reasons for my chaos may be secondary. I should write a book on lazy, scavenger organizing.

In the kids’ rooms, we have a “small toys” box and a “big toys” box. So, when I come across the millionth fast-food meal toy that China has so courteously imported over 6695 miles using our dwindling fuel resources so it could come get kicked around my floor, I can just put it it’s place. Which is, of course, the trash. But there is a bin, should I ever feel compassion on a poor toy.

On top of my bed, after it is neatly made, is the pile for everything that I haven’t figured out what pile it goes into yet, or if it even has a pile. It also is the repository for all stray items in the house if company is coming. TIP: If you want your youngish child to clean a random pile in your house, tell them to put each item on the bed of the person it belongs to. Yet, if you’re me, this may not work, as it will turn into it’s own entity to be gently lifted back and forth from floor to bed each evening and morning for at least a week, maybe much longer.

So, in narrowing the “place” that everything has and is in, to a general “region” of the house, I have somehow become more together and very slightly less crazy. As I thought about this post this morning, I was looking for my kitchen timer, which has it’s general “place” to be anywhere within the finite space of my kitchen counter. Not a large space, yet somehow I spend time every day looking for this dumb timer. And, like the sweet simpleton who has a flash of wisdom, I reached out and turned the knob of the door–I declared that I would narrow the designated place of the timer to the top of the juicer by the stove. Two more times that hour I found the timer without the bruised nose of my old, simpleton ways.

Do you see? Over time, “A Pile for Everything” may very well turn into “A Place for Everything.”

When my oldest was very young, about 3, I taught him the phrase, “I always put my things away so I can find them another day.” He is now old enough to recognize the agregious hypocrisy, if not yet the hilarity, of ME, me of all people, trying to teach this idea to him. But I try to explain that I only harass him endlessly to do things I hardly do myself because I want him to get it together and be better than me, and to not have to be an adult before learning basic civilized behavior. But the genes, alas, they are strong.

Regardless, it is very hard to teach kids to put away their things, or anything, if no one in the house really knows where it belongs. Thus, the beloved “pile for everything” was born.

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