I am a reformed slob. I made the decision to get organized on June 16, 1977. I was 35. I learned a lot through that transformation. The most important of which was to understand that before I did one thing to organize my chaotic life, I was alright just the way I was. That backed-up laundry didn’t make me a bad person. That an unmade bed and a sink full of dirty dishes didn’t mean I didn’t love my family or my home. That having to re-inoculate the children because I couldn’t find their medical records when we moved to a new town didn’t mean I was a bad mother.
My challenge to change my ways came from a deep desire to have more fun; to be able to play guilt-free and to feel the freedom of taking care of the routine and mundane tasks that make a household run smoothly, so my family and I could really enjoy this delicious thing called life. My motive to get organized was to have more free time to play.
I think being organized or disorganized is ultimately a choice but I also think we each have a natural proclivity to be either. My mom was born organized. My dad was the donor of my disorganized gene. I had three children and two received my penchant for mess and one was washing her toys when she was 18 months old. Once I asked her if she wanted a doll house for Christmas and she replied, “Oh Mom, it would just be one more thing to keep clean.”
You know where you fall on the scale of order: one is a Martha Stewart without a staff and ten is the person who can’t dust or vacuum because she doesn’t have surfaces.
I discovered a little organization goes a long way. My mom used a Girl Scout calendar that she looked at every day and a watch that she looked at every hour and a clean 8x11 inch sheet of paper daily for her “to do” list. Everything ran smoothly and I remember her saying, “If we get our chores done by 10:00 we can go play.” And play we did. Mom made being organized look so easy; which it was because she never let anything pile up. She had a natural ethic that she didn’t get to have fun until her work was done. She let the “carrot” of fun hang over her.
For me as a wife and mother I got overwhelmed and buried as the responsibilities of motherhood and a bad marriage sapped my energy. My husband (we divorced when I got organized) and I fought every day over the mess. I felt like a loser, a failure and an embarrassment to my family until it struck me that feeling like a failure was not the truth about me, and that until I turned that thought around I was stuck. I knew better, but in the chaos I had just forgotten. That was my turning point.
Don’t allow anyone to cause you to doubt your ability to succeed. If you’ve made a decision to get organized keep it a secret so you don’t get negative feedback you don’t need.
Get to know your inner child for she is that part of you that needs your love and attention. She’s the part of you that wants to play and if you can set a rule that you don’t get to play until _____________ is done and seek the cooperation of your inner child, you’ll find that you will make progress at being organized.
One of the beer commercials I just watched during the Super Bowl has a motto: Have fun, be responsible. I’d like to change that (since I don’t drink beer) to: Have fun being responsible.