So… I’m not the most put-together person in the world. I did do seven loads of laundry today, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, helped my kids write books, made 3 meals (if opening cereal boxes counts as “making” for one of them), and began some make-ahead-meals as well, but I also stayed in my pajamas all day and never left the house. When I woke up this morning, I felt overwhelmed by a huge, existential to-do list floating around in my mind. I might need a little order in my life.
When I left for Women’s Conference last week, Matt made the fatal mistake of informing me of his grandiose plans in my absence. He said something like this (I can’t remember the details because I felt fire in my brain): “While you’re gone I’m going to go around and de-clutter this whole house. I’m sick of all the clutter. I’m going to go from room to room to room and go through all the piles of junk and throw stuff away and put things in the right place. Don’t worry, I won’t throw away anything that has writing on it.” I would like to add that this comment came after I spent most of the day trying to get everything picked up and ready for me to leave. Now, I need to confess that I know he was thinking he was saying something like “I’m going to try hard to do you a huge favor and you will be so proud of me,” but he didn’t understand that I heard, “I’m going to do everything you do everyday, plus oh so much more,” and that I wanted to shove Battleship game pieces under his toenails.
So I think you would have to concede that it took great introspection and humility for me to choose to attend a class at Women’s Conference called, “Let all these things be done in order: Creating a climate of joy and order,” taught by Marjean Weiler ans Sue Williams. If you will promise to NOT share this with Matt, I will tell you some of things I learned there.
- The temple is a model/shadow of how to run our home. Our covenants are instruction for success. (D&C 88:119)
- Break down projects into steps. Write each step down. Put the steps on your calendar. Approach each step with prayer.
- Write down promptings and inspiration, then do them.
- Establish routines/patterns. Tie a new routine to an established one. (For example, you already brush your teeth every night. Tie journal-writing to that routine and do one after the other until they are both a habit.)
- Set aside the same time everyday to deal with paperwork (kids’ school papers + mail, etc.). Have one place to collect ALL paperwork. Replace piles with files. (Use general category labels and then subdivide as necessary. Example: Medical. … may later become insurance, bills, prescriptions, etc.) Write action items on calendar and then throw papers away.
- Keep papers and pens (that work!) or a whiteboard near the phone. Transfer items to calendar.
- Use drawer dividers to organize junk or messy drawers. Even boxes from food, etc. can be used as drawer dividers.
- Finish tasks. Don’t “deal with it later.”
- In failing to plan, we lose sight of our eternal destiny.
- How to balance life’s demands (from Elder Ballard):
- Set your priorities. Keep covenants in mind as you make daily plans.
- Set short-term goals.
- Measure carefully your needs vs. your wants.
- Stay close to spouse, children.
- Study the scriptures.
- Make time for sufficient rest, exercise, and relaxation.
- Teach one another the gospel.
- Prayerfully pick ONE thing to work on.
- How to get started:
- Make a list of the things around your house that frustrate you the most (towels on floor, meal planning, etc.) Write it down, and start with the one that bugs you the most. The speaker mentioned meal planning and talked about a simple rule she follows: Know what you’re going to eat at ten. Dinner has to be planned out by 10:00 a.m. or 10:00 p.m. the previous night. Takes stress away from crazy afternoon time.
- Make the trash can your best friend. You won’t miss it. Put stuff in there and RUN before you children see their “favorite McDonald’s toy ever.”
- Use a calendar and always keep it in the same place. Go over the calendar each week, maybe at FHE with whole family.
- Start small, but start. If you want to declutter an area, use three bins: Trash, Keep, Donate. Run to trash. Put donate stuff in trunk right away. Organize “keep” stuff into right place.
- Make it a team effort. Get help from family.
Feel free to judge me because I mostly took notes on areas in which I need improvement. Those of you who do not have a D+ in home organization can just ignore this post and tune in tomorrow as we visit another chapter of “What Stephanie learned in Women’s Conference.” I apologize to those of you who find this kind of stuff tedious or completley uninteresting, but it does me good to review my notes and record what I learned in a “permanent” kind of way. Humor me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pile of about 7-days-worth of mail to tackle.
p.s. Matt did a great job with the kids and the house while I was gone, but I’m sure you’ll understand my secret joy that his “project” could not come to fruition with all the demands of the children and such.