Friday, October 10, 2008

Organization vs. Neatness EDITED

I feel the need to post about my "organizational" skills.

Let me preface this entire post by a few disclaimers:

I am organized. I am not neat. I will save that title for my mom and for my friend Karen (and Michelle, and Terri). They are psycho neat. Insanely so. I once spent an entire winter Sunday at Karen's house with all my kids and when we left after dinner it was still freaking spotless. I am constantly yelling nicely and patiently asking my lovely husband and children to CLEAN UP THEIR CRAP. I am constantly cleaning up crap and putting it back where it belongs. Nothing ever seems to get put back where it came from without me either threatening it to be thrown away or me doing it myself. Sometimes I just say that I wish I could toss everything and start fresh. But I love my house so that aint gonna happen. But can we just toss all the CRAP of life? But I digress (what else is new). Back to the organizing thing.

I am HIGHLY organized. I have 4 little kids and 1 big kid (whom I adore to pieces and is the best hubby in the universe...but he and I differ just a tad in what constitutes clean). I have the Dov-man. I work 25-30 hours per week and only have 4 hours of cleaning help per week-which is a heck of a lot more than some people have so I'm not complaining. But if I wasn't organized then I would drown, literally, in both the physical and emotional stuff of life. For me, and organized life=an organized mind. I cannot function without organization. As I tell people constantly, I can do anything with a plan. In one sentence, my friends, that is my secret. plan, plan, plan. lists, lists, lists. Plan ahead, reap the benefits.

So here are just a few of my ways I keep my life organized.

  • laundry every day. There is nothing more disheartening, in my opinion, than Mt. St. Laundry, as I call it. I hate laundry-I mean, you do it, put it all away, and then. there. is. more. It's like the laundry mommy and daddy made little laundry babies when you weren't looking. So every morning, even before my coffee, I run downstairs to the scary slasher film basement and toss the load in. The load is the clothing and pj's everyone wore yesterday, plus Dovi's sheets, plus the odd towel that might smell icky. Benjie's more concerned about icky towels than me-so there's usually one or two per day. So for my family of 6, that totals about one load. If I toss it in first thing in the morning, I can generally flip it to the drier right before I leave in the morning at 8, or immediately when I get home at 3:45. Then I fold it while the kids are taking their showers, upstairs in the hallway, and put it straight away. The folding/putting away of 1 load takes about 7-10 minutes. I'd MUCH rather spend 7 minutes every day than one or two hours on a Sunday. I DO do two or three loads on Sunday, because I'm doing Friday and Saturday plus linens. Which brings me to:
  • Linens. I change them every other week, not every week. (and don't tell, I just did not have the fortitude to do them last week, so, gasp, my kids are sleeping on three week old sheets. whatevs. they're fine). I despise shimmying up on the bunkbed and rearranging all the kids' crap stuffed animals, so I put it off as long as possible. But honestly, they're just fine.
  • Plan dinner in advance. I take ten minutes every Wednesday when I'm planning my Shabbos meals and plan my dinners for the next week. I only worry about Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because Thursday is hot dog night at Casa P (don't lecture me about nitrates. That's the least of our problems in life). So I decide what I'm making for dinner next week on Wednesday. So that way, when I shop, get this, everyone...I buy what I need for next week's dinners as well. That means that I don't need to run to the store every day to buy dinner ingredients. Shocking, I know. But it makes everything so much easier to not be like...hmmm....what's for dinner? At 3 pm. And it keeps us out of the noodles and fish sticks rut.
  • I try and not waste time. As in if I need to ________ (cook, clean, set the table, etc), I don't sit down/read a book/etc until I've done it. Because once my butt hits the couch, it's all over, folks. I like my chaise on my couch in my den with my laptop, looking up at my loverly pictures of my kids from Amy, over the mantle I made my myself and stained's my happy place, and darned if I'm going to get up from there once I sit down. So I don't. Until I've finished. Try it, it works.
  • I've said this before, and this only applies to my Shabbos-observant readers, but I set the table/set up the Shabbos candles on Thursday night. There is no better feeling than coming downstairs on Friday morning to a set table. I'm like "ooh I'm the best, look how geshickt I am!" Even if the rest of the house is a mess (which it often is) and the food is not yet cooked (which it often is not), I feel like a rock star with my set table and set up candles. I used to go to the house of a dear friend of mine on Friday afternoons. She is lucky enough to have almost daily housekeeping help. Her housekeeper would set the table every Thursday. I'd go home, feeling all upset that I didn't have a housekeeper to get my table ready on Thursday. But then I realized-I can set the table myself on Thursday! So I do. And I rock. Which brings me to:
  • Don't pile crap on your dining room table! You'll feel icky when someone walks into your house and sees a messy table. It's not a good feeling. Find another place to dump it. My crap pile of embarrassment is in my den, on my desk. Holy cow, that place is scary now. Must deal with it. But it's not the first thing people see when they come in my house. I can close it up and pretend it's not there. So also,
  • Keep the entry way clean. I have baskets for my kids' shoes. They are supposed to dump their shoes there when they come in. They often don't, but at least, when I yell tell them so patiently and nicely to put them away, they have an easy place to put them. Make the kids put away their backpacks. Often, my kids don't. But I aspire to it. They even have hooks on the basement stairs. With their initials on them. Which they generally ignore. Give them a place to put them, and try to enforce it. I need to get better at this one.
  • lists, lists, lists. If you have a lot to do, and are starting to get overwhelmed, STOP! Stop right there from the freaking, and make lists. Make as many lists as you need to until you've broken down your tasks into manageable bites. I break everything down. My mom and sister used to mock me, when Dovi was a baby, for my pre-Shabbos lists. Literally, I would write: Take food out of fridge. Put food in oven. Fill up hot water urn. Take shower. OK, I don't do that anymore, but you get the idea. It reminds me of this book. I've never read it, but that's the idea-break it down and it's SO much more doable. I also love the satisfaction of crossing things off. Whenever I get frazzled, I stop, and make a list. And then I don't sit down and relax until my task for that day is over. By following my lists, I managed to make Pesach for my family of 26 while still working a normal schedule. And without staying up until 2 am. Never did. At all. Can't remember the last time I did that.
  • HERE'S MY EDIT-I have one more pearl of wisdom (hardy har har): JUST DO IT. If you've got things to get done, don't sit around talking about how much you've got to do, how much it sucks, etc etc etc. Just get up and get it done. It's amazing how much time we can spend talking about what we have to do instead of just doing it. Get going, get moving, and finish it up.
  • This is my last one. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I like to do everything myself. But sometimes, it's just too much. Remember last Friday when the asbestos guy unplugged my fridge and ruined all my food for Shabbos and I found that out as I was walking out the door to work, and I had no extra chicken in my deep freeze? So when some people called me and offered me food and help, I took it. That's what friends are for. So I remember that concept when I'm feeling overwhelmed and someone offers to help. There's no shame in taking help. If my friend or relative was feeling overwhelmed, I'd want to help. Heck, I'd be offended if they wouldn't take my help. So when I need help and it's offered (or I need to ask for it!), I avail myself.

So that's it, my dears. Like it? All Sara's Great Organizational Secrets, spelled out. Enjoy.


Shosh said...

If i didnt believe in a religion that subscribed to the concept of only one god, you would definitely be my second

Galiah said...

I am duly impressed!!! In terms of my kids, I am very organized (they have their school supplies in on time, never a late HW, etc etc)-- but there is tons of clutter in my house. well, we try to relegate it to the basement so at least it's not all over. YOu are so right about not sitting down to read until e/t's done-- I am just the opposite of you in that sense-- I usually give in to a book calling my name...

WriterGrrl said...

Brilliant. Especially the part about accepting help. Which I am trying to get better at. And sometimes even succeeding. :-) Also love the lists. And mine still often say things like "drink water" and "shower" on them.

michelle prero said...

I think I'm gonna print out this blog entry and post it on my fridge!!
Did you ever watch the show "Jon & Kate Plus 8"? Its an awesome reality show about this mother of twins and sextuplets and she is super organized - I think you'd like it :)