Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Vital Skill: Organizing

"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness..."


Yesterday I was reminded of a certain home-making skill that I hadn't used in awhile. It's a skill that's VERY important to the function of a home.


I'm very thrilled about discussing the topic today. I feel as if this is an area in which I have made a little progress.

Never mind the fact that my bedroom looks as if I just drop things in there and go. I know where everything is. That's being organized, right? :)

Actually, I think organizing things is one of the most enjoyable parts of homemaking. I love to have everything I need at my fingertips - in any room. Mom says I was "neat" even when I was a little girl. ...I think she might mean organized, because I'm not exactly neat.

I'm not really messy, either. ...But my bedroom does look lived in. If being neat means being sparse and empty, I'm not there. (though that looks really cool in magazines!)

I could discuss why organization is important, and how it is vital if you're going to have a pleasant home, and how it forces us to weed through our possessions and keep only what we need...but most people already know all that. Instead, let me list a few tips. (Not that I'm an expert, or anything - but just for fun. Like I said, I enjoy organization.)

~ First, I think I'll focus on bedrooms today, because that's what I've just finished organizing. I volunteered to help one of my younger sisters clean the bedroom she shares with our littlest sister. She was saying that the bedroom was too small, and I told her that all she needed was some organization.

~ The bedroom is small. But I'm learning that many times, there's just too much stuff in one place. (Did she really need all those pencils and crayons? And every envelope she's ever gotten in the mail?)

~ So we sorted through every single solitary item in that room, and decided what she could do without. We had a huge trash bag to fill up, and two big Rubbermaid tubs. One tub was for things that belonged in another room in our house, and the other was for things she wanted to sell at a yard sale. We ended up using both tubs for items that belonged elsewhere in the house.

~ Then - and this is my favorite part - we divided the room into "zones." I got this idea from a library book, and it really works great. I asked my sister what she does in their bedroom. Playing, getting dressed, writing, drawing, sewing, etc. From there, we set aside one wall (the one with the closet) for dressing. We took a little bookshelf that was being used in another part of the room, moved it next to the closet, and turned it into a vanity of sorts. All the hair items, purses, hats, and such went there.

~ We also sorted through the closet. I think this went so well that it's a pity to shut the door and hide the beautiful shelves away! They have two shelves above the rod in the closet, and neither was being used for clothing. I think they had toy boxes or something up there. Anyway, we took the clothes that weren't on hangers, which were being stored elsewhere in the room, and placed them in pink baskets on the first shelf. (Everything in this room is pink!)

~ The remaining shelf was saved to store sewing items, because the closet is right beside the sewing zone.

~ Do you see how the idea of "zones" works? Now my sisters have everything they use for one activity (dressing) in one place. The dirty laundry basket and the shoe basket are sitting on the floor of the closet. Everything they need is right there, in the closet and on the little bookshelf.

Now it will be much easier to keep the room neat, because it's not work to put things away. The baskets for clean clothes are easier to access than what they were using before. The hair stuff isn't being stored on the other side of the room.

That's the difference between cleaning a room and organizing it. If you clean it, you'll have to do the job again in about two weeks (or two days!). But if a room is organized, it practically keeps itself clean.

~ We proceeded around the room, creating the other four zones. Three to four zones is about all one room can handle. We were pushing it to do four zones in this little bedroom, but it worked. The trick was getting rid of everything that didn't fit in those four zones.

~ My sisters think it's the greatest thing, that all their toys are in one place, in the part of the room that has the most floor space to play on. They're already talking about how easy it will be to put the toys away. (Something they've never said before!)

Creating this much order, in a room that had a bunch of extra stuff in it (a lot of that got thrown away) was a huge job. I read somewhere that most organization jobs are a 1 to 1 and 1/2 day job. It took my sister and I five hours.

At about 3 hours, Tiffany looked at me and said "you know what, Amber? I'm actually having fun!"

We did have fun. We hadn't spent much time alone together lately, and there we were, shut away in that bedroom for 5 hours. It was a time for me to see how much my sister is growing up. She impressed me with her mature attitude about throwing things away, and sticking with a job. She's only 10 years old, after all. I could hardly believe she was handling this massive sorting project. She must have really been enjoying herself.

But so much organization has its affects. Last night I dreamed that I was still cleaning that room. I was sorting through tiny little toys, and there was no end to the job. It kept going...and going...and going...'til I thought I would go crazy. I was glad to wake up.

When I told Tiffany good morning today, I also told her about my dream.

She laughed, and said "I dreamed that I was swimming in toys!"

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