Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Systems Go

 Recently a friend and I were talking about ‘systems’ to manage kids’ paperwork, shoes, toys, etc. My friend, A,  is seven younger than I am, and her children are in the early elementary school years – otherwise known as the ‘plethora of paper’ years. Artwork, homework (yes, even in kindergarten), and forms stuffed into backpacks arrive each day with alarming regularity. 

 Sadly, I have never met a piece of paper I didn’t want to have a long-term relationship with.

 A and I swapped stories. Her dining room hutch is the repository for her children’s artwork. I offered how I have always favored a ‘shoe basket’ to keep footwear ‘confined.’

 Our conversation reminded me of another friend from more than 20 years ago.  H was the first to have children among our group and the first to  have ‘systems.’  She juggled kids, teaching parttime and a particularly stressful adoption process. Her lists of what household chores needed to be done what day and her typed grocery list enthralled me.

 I love organization and loathe clutter, but the former does not come naturally in my surroundings and the latter does. In addition, I married a man who is extraordinarily organized in his thinking BUT…  Let’s just leave it at that.

 My husband, however, does all the cooking and parenting has always been equally divided and when not, he’s the one who does more than me. I stopped being able to help both our sons with math homework about second grade.

 My mother raised four children with considerably less household help from my father, and I once accused her of making it look too easy. It wasn’t easy at all. She just was and is incredibly organized. Even when we were little, she  was always writing to earn a few extra dollars to supplement my father’s school administrator salary. 

So a few years ago my husband and I began talking about his seeking a job at a smaller university – maybe moving back ‘west’ to be closer to family and big sky country.  A job opened at a school of 6,500 students in his ‘dream town’ of Kearney, Nebraska. The university we both worked at was pushing 30,000 students. My husband applied, interviewed and accepted the new position.

 To sell our house, we called the realtor who had sold it to us nearly a decade before. She and I had taught Sunday School together, two of her children had babysat our younger son and she’s a good friend.

 When she and  her fellow realtors did their ‘walk through’ our house,  the consensus was my husband and I needed to ‘tidy’ up our home office more.  Actually, we needed a bulldozer to remove the papers, etc from the space.

 I blew up…but just to my husband. If we’d had time to clean out that room we wouldn’t be moving. It was a dubious monument to how busy and cluttered, and  not just physically, our lives had become over the years.

 We were ready for a lifestyle change, and, while not without challenges that come from uprooting after 15 years in one spot, change has been good.

 How do you deal with clutter?


1 comment:

  1. Lately I'm on a crusade against clutter. My main strategy for dealing with it is to get rid of stuff. Done with a paperback? Donate it to Goodwill. Never wear that shirt? Likewise, donate it. Finished with that magazine? Recycle it.

    It helped that we moved recently, gave us incentive to sort through everything, and we got rid of tons of stuff, I mean really, tons.

    Of course it's much easier for us now that my kids are grown. Back when we had three youngsters in the house, well, let's just say, the standards were much more relaxed. Oh, I tried, and they tried, and we usually managed to keep the mess and clutter down to a dull roar. But not always, and who cares? When you have kids at home, it shouldn't be a high priority to have a perfect house, in my opinion. That can wait. They will be gone soon enough.