Every mother knows that staying on top of the daily mess is hard work. Exhausting work! Just when you think you have the house all organized, cleaned and looking good, the kids wake up. I’ve found that the more kids I have, the harder it is to stay on top of the mess. Now I don’t want to discourage you from having kids, but it’s true. In fact, there is a Bible verse that, oddly enough, speaks to this:
“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” Proverbs 14:4
In essence, if you don’t have kids, you won’t have a mess. But if you don’t have kids, you will be missing out on a harvest of love, joy, and slobbery kisses. 🙂
I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter if “everything has a place,” when “everything” is thrown all around the house. There are days when I feel like I’ll never get on top of it all, even though I have systems set up for keeping things organized and job assignments for all my “helpers” (they refer to themselves as “slaves” when the mess is really bad and they’ve been recruited to help beyond their normal scope of service). Inevitability, we can pool together and race around like crazy to pull the house together to make it look presentable for a guest.
However, these days it’s especially hard, since I have a toddler who doesn’t respect my “upstairs toys stay upstairs, and downstairs toys stay downstairs” rule. I seem to be regularly giving in to her with this rule when she bats her pretty, long lashes at me and asks to take her Bibles downstairs. Who can say “no” to a two-year-old who wants to take her Bible downstairs? The problem is that she regularly misplaces them. This leads to frantic searching for at least one of her story Bibles when it’s time for bed. Of course, it’s not just the Bibles that come down and go up, it’s everything — stuffed animals, BOOKS, toys, you name it, it’s gone up and down our stairs.
Her favorite game right now is “let’s dump out all the toys in mommy’s beautifully labeled bins and baskets.” No game seems to delight her more. What could possibly be better than to see just how many toys we have to pick from to play with. The worst is when I’m not paying attention, and several of our homeschool bins come out at once during this delightful “game.” I know it’s a matter of being consistent in training her how to play with things and how to clean up. But these days, I can’t always stay on top of it. I have to pick my battles, and this one seems to be a losing battle at this time.
A few years and three kids ago, I gave a series of talks on organization to a MOPS group at a local church. It was a lot of fun. Preparing for them helped me to think through what I was doing right and what I should be doing more of to bring more order into my home. I kind of laugh now when I think about those talks. In a way, I feel like I didn’t have a clue what was in store for me in a few short years. However, when I look over the Top Ten List I created so long ago, much of it stands true. It’s just my life is now full of more potential for messes.
Let me be very real with you here. I love to be organized. To me, getting organized is like working on a puzzle. It’s a challenge, and I love a good challenge. I can’t wait to get the edges done first. Then I move on to the guts of the puzzle. After lots of hard work trying different pieces in every possible combination, you have a finished product that you are proud to show off. That has been my experience with organizing my home.
First, I get some systems in place. Then it’s time for the really hard work of trying different things until I can finally find what works best for me. The difference between puzzles and getting organized is that there are different combinations for different people. Not everyone will end up with the same finished product. In other words, the same thing doesn’t work for everyone. What helps one person find success above the mayhem, may not work for someone else.
This is where my “glean and tweak technique” comes into place. I’ll talk about this more in-depth later, when I discuss my Rule #8. What you need to know now is that it’s great to get advice from different people — I call this “gleaning.” Then you take that information and “tweak it” to fit for your family. There is not always a cookie cutter answer for everyone when it comes to organizing. My brain may be wired differently than yours. So, what works for me, may not work for you. But you can take the “edges” — my rules and systems — and then create your own masterpiece.
Oh, I guess one more big difference in my puzzle analogy is that when you have kids, the “puzzle” doesn’t stay put together for very long. You will probably have to re-construct it again the next day, and the day after that.
With all that being said, I’m ready to look back over my Top Ten List again. I’m going to spend the some time outlining my Top Ten List for you. I hope it helps you as you endeavor to:
Master your Own Mayhem!
Coming Soon…Rule #1: Don’t Forget Your First Priorities!