The Distraction of Organizing Nothing

We are not a family that is booked to the hilt. We do not have something on the go every night of the week. We do not have copious amounts of gear lining the hallway or sport-specific shoes piled up at the back door.

And that is OK.

I have friends who go from one thing to the next, who have exploding calendars and much to remember, who have even recently “volunteered” to not only go to the sports, but coach them too.

That is also OK.

We all often dance along the line that borders too much and too little. But really, who is to say which is which? Too much for me might be just right for you. Too little for you might be holy crap no thanks for me. If someone looks at my world and thinks wow, how terrible, her kid is not enrolled in ANYTHING, well, I will refute that by saying maybe you should try it sometime.

McK has never been interested in many extra curricular activities. A session of ballet for four year olds which was more cute than plie-knowledge-building. A few rounds of tennis lessons after which she actually taught US how to serve. The odd art lessons which only seemed to frustrate her since all she really wanted was to just draw. And a season of tackle football (be still my heart) which was the most fun *I* have ever had watching her do anything.

All of these were good. They gave us something to plan around and work around and prepare both our week and meals around. So I one hundred percent get it. And I realize now that it is actually easier to organize yourself when there are a few things on your to-do list than when it is a blank space on the calendar.

When we have nothing at all on the go, it becomes incredibly easy to do just that. Nothing.

So I plan things that are your everyday run of the mill tasks. But I get them on the calendar. Otherwise, with the option of attacking the laundry or watching playoff game number 4, I will be couch bound at tip off.

It is very easy to be distracted by nothing.

Laundry. Groceries. Organize her t shirt drawer (yes, that is a thing). I add those to my calendar or I will succumb to the nothingness of an unplanned evening.

Don’t get me wrong. I value my nothingness. I long for it every Friday night and hold tight to it until Sunday. But having concrete tasks to accomplish when there are no extra to-do’s on the go is what motivates me to actually get stuff done. Everyone is different, every style of life planning is OK so long as it works for you, everyone has distinct levels of “things” they want to put on their calendars and different levels of acceptable nothingness.

I will organize my time to ensure the nothingness does not become so distracting that we reach the outskirts of lazy town.

When catching up on things dominates our weekends because we let our weekdays fall into the arms of nothing, we feel cheated of the days we actually hope to have not much on the go.

Don’t book your life up so much that you don’t have time to smell the roses. Just remember to schedule a few minutes on your calendar to trim the plant.

 

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Do what you plan, plan what you do.

 

Summer Days

As the temperature rises (and unexpectedly rapidly drops, as we have recently experienced), the pull to be out of doors rises equally. The annual poke through the dusty bins that hid from the wintry wind in the safety of the shed begins anew and we find treasures long forgotten.

Deflated balls representing all sports, jumpropes and skipballs that likely will remain untouched by the soon-to-be teen, bits and bobs of the bicycle-part variety, frisbees and kites destined to spend the next 6 months in the back of the car for the just in case moments and impromptu park stops.

The garage will be void of shovels and snowblowers, replaced with lawnmowers and gardening tools, and bicycles will once again make getting out of the car a little tricky on the left hand side.

A quick once-over of the current state of our patio set leaves something to be desired. Bird poop from overhead target practice and enough spider webs to make even Charlotte jealous can be cleaned off but the rust on the frame work from seasons spent under a blanket of snow call as loud as the geese flying by for a full replacement.

So the search is on. Chairs, ideally stack-able for winter storage and preferably without cushions that I have to remember to take off when it rains or go collect from about the yard when our summer winds pick up. Table, large enough for 6 without having to pull a lawn chair over to accommodate all of the food offerings that don’t fit on the tiny bits of available space on the table. Umbrella, nope. We spent more time trying to corral that bugger in the wind that we did enjoying its shade and thus, it spent more time on the floor beside the table than upright where it belonged.

And so I wait, flip flops at the ready, cold drink and a good book on standby. Dinner al fresco every weekend. Coffee in the morning sun. Serenaded into the evening by the frogs and other critters.

Deck life.

We are hearty enough to withstand our Winnipeg winters. And as such, we are rightfully rewarded with our Winnipeg summers.

Summertime

Summertime, and the livin’ gets decidedly easier!

Something In, Something Out

Last weekend we went to an antique store just outside of the city. It was not the typical antique store that we think of, filled to the rafters with things that look a little less like an antique and more like someones long-forgotten garage sale, where you spend most of the time searching out the hidden gem and wading through plastic-y odds and sods.

This place was different.

Bud, the owner, does his purchasing and selecting meticulously. He only buys what he would proudly want to place on his shelves. And the difference is measurable. Don’t get me wrong, the place has tons of items. But they are all there, visible, for you to pore over, run you finger across, stare at for a good long while. And they are all quality.

Bud also knows the full history of just about every single item in the joint. He knew when it was from, where it was from, what it was used for, if it still worked, when it last worked, what it needs to get it to work. He was a fountain.

It was superb.

So we came away with a box full of carefully wrapped goodies and found them new homes lickety split. The replacement of old items with our new old items was fairly simple as we purchased with these spots in mind. The best part? Convincing Pat that the items we took away did NOT need to find a new home.

One in, one out.

That is the rule he has for my shoes and my bags. Well guess what? If it applies there, it applies here.

So I happily took what we removed off our own shelves to make room for our new old items and placed them in my garage sale pile.

I have no doubt we will be regular visitors to the Lamplighter. Pat peppered Bud with endless questions and I think the level of fascination and  interest from Pat was equaled by the level of enthusiasm and pride from Bud who happily answered them all.

He told us next time we should call ahead so they know we’re coming. He would put out some special things for us.

Now THAT’S service.

 

You can find Bud and all of his amazing wares at the Lamplighter, Hwy 15 (Dugald Road) just before the turnoff to Oakbank. 

If You Do One Thing…

Making the bed. Emptying the dishwasher. Putting your lunch bag away at the end of each day.

We all have that one thing, that one little annoying task that we know, if we do it, we will feel a million times better than if we left it. There are things I have gotten in the habit of doing, things like making the bed, that I do daily because I like the way it looks and I like the way it feels when I get back into it at the end of each day.

But there is one thing that I negotiate with myself about week after week. I promise myself treats and good things if I just do it and do not procrastinate. I even use positive self talk to convince myself that doing said task now will save me precious time later and will send me into the week on a positive note. I tell myself if I DON’T do it, I will feel like there is always something left to be done, always this nagging little voice saying hey you, yeah you, you forgot about me, I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere.

I’m talking about the dreaded putting away of clean laundry.

Believe me, I can stare at that full basket of clothes for DAYS.

I can pick out just what is needed if anything is required from it.

I can live out of it like a freaking suitcase if I have to.

I start out with good intentions, doing all the laundry on a Sunday, load upon load. And typically, right up until that last basket, I get everything put away, ready for the week ahead.

Until that last basket.

My nemesis.

So my new promise to myself is this. Finish what you start. Don’t leave it for later. Save your precious “later” moments for things that count.

The odd dish or two? They can wait.

The messy blankets all over the couch? They can wait.

If you do one thing…make it something that will affect the rest of your week in a positive way.

Go put the laundry away.

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The dreaded laundry basket…just DO IT.

 

What is the one thing you know you should just do, and yet you still manage to talk yourself out of it week in and week out?

How do you get yourself in the mindset of just doing it and getting it over with? Tips and tricks to share? Comment above!

The Misconception of Clean

A clean house means a boring life.

That’s what a number of memes and other little quotes and sayings would have you believe. A clean house means you pay no attention to your kids or do not allow anyone to have any fun because you are too busy scrubbing and mopping.

I am here to challenge that.

My house is clean. It is always tidy. Our idea of messy is drastically different from others.

That does not mean we are neat freaks (ok maybe my husband is), or that our daughter is not allowed to be creative, or things do not get out of control.

Au contraire. These things happen. They just happen in certain areas and when they happen they are cleaned up before moving on to the next thing.

We have a craft area in the basement. We go nuts there with glue guns and paint mixes and creations of giant accessories like chainshaws and over-the-top signs for football games. We also tidy up when we are finished.

We have a well-used kitchen that sees chopping and dicing and experimenting and recipes gone bad. It also sees proper clean up and re-organization once we are done.

Is our house spotless? No.

Is our house always tidy? No.

But we do our best. We know where things are and where they belong. We put laundry away when it’s done (most times). We tidy up when we make a mess. We bring things upstairs instead of adding to the pile of items on stair number 3. It has become habit.

If I straighten up the blankets on the couch before I go to bed, do you care? If I wipe up any signs of crumbs on the counter or floor after preparing a meal, does it really affect you? If I tidy up the craft area when we are done with our latest masterpiece, does it matter?

Nope.

It only matters to me. And I would rather do little tidies throughout the week than dread a giant clean up on the weekend.

Clean does not mean spotless. It means maintaining a tidy existence that does not suit all, it just suits us. I don’t wipe the baseboards or wash every window or wipe out the fridge drawers. I put things away. I straighten. I organize.

McK is no less creative because she is expected to clean up after herself. She is no less expressive if tidying is an expectation. We are no less interesting.

A clean house is a contributor to an organized mind.

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I disagree.

Tie One On

Thought I’d share with you a slight obsession that I have. It is not one that I shy away from talking about, nor one that I hide from people. I know at least two of my favourite people suffer from the same obsession so at least I do not feel so alone. And no amount of talking will get me to ever change my ways.

I am a scarf-aholic.

You feel me ladies?

So I decided that figuring out how to store these beauties was going to be my first official Before & After.

Before and After

Transforming the Chaos

I have a set of three stackable baskets in my closet. The bottom two baskets are full of my football paraphernalia, which, if you know anything about me, is mucho-importanto. So it is not to be touched in this process.

The top basket, however, that beast needs some work. I made a most valiant effort to keep the contents of that top basket streamlined, organized, FOLDED even. Every. Single. Scarf. Folded and neatly put away at the end of each day. And it worked. For a couple of weeks.

And then suddenly, THIS happened…

scarf pile

Giant Pile ‘O Scarves

It was on a quick trip through Dollarama that I spotted something that I thought would a) work and b) not be too labour intensive that I might actually continue to use it well after the intial “wow” period had faded.

Scarf hangers! Likely been around forever but I had not seen them before. They were perfect. I grabbed a couple of colours and set off on my merry, organizing way.

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The adorable scarf hangers!

I dumped my basket and began to sort.

Rule number one of any kind of Before & After project…PURGE!

The best time to get rid of what you don’t use anymore is when it is all laid out in front of you. Be truthful when you do it. If you haven’t worn it in ages or heck, if you didn’t even remember that you OWNED it, get rid of it!!

I hung all of my regular scarves through the petals of my new scarf hangers and was left with a handful of infinity scarves. I opted to utilize an unused pant hanger to loop them on so that the clips at either end would stop them from sliding off.

And voila.

Off the floor. Out of the basket. Not a crumpled, wrinkly mess.

I can’t guarantee they will stay that way but when you find an item that eliminates a majority of the lazy-factor, it certainly keeps you on the right track.

What’s that? Why yes, I did notice there were a few empty spots. BRB. Gone shopping.

 

How about you? How do you keep things like scarves or accessories organized? I have used the compartments of a tackle/craft box to keep my earrings sorted for ages. An other ideas?

Calendar Girl

If it is on the calendar, consider it golden.

I track my day-to-day in a number of ways. As previously noted, I write myself short, little emails that outline what it was that I was thinking of at that very moment that was at risk of being forgotten if it was not jotted down at that precise time.

I keep an ever-changing, ever-growing to-do list in my work notebook and my home notebook that I often reflect upon at the end of the day. Sometimes the next day’s to-do list is a carbon copy of today’s but that’s just how life goes.

Most importantly, I keep a month-at-a-glance calendar on my fridge that gets updated every month to ensure we are where we are supposed to be at any given time. I learned my lesson the hard way.

I was that mom who pulled up into an empty school parking lot, wondering briefly where everyone was before realizing there was no school that day. I was that mom who got the call at 2:15 to remind her that school was out at 2 that day. I was that mom who stopped at the store on the way to the kids party to grab a gift card and pay way more than I should for a pretty, little gift bag.

No more.

Once McK entered grade 7, knowing what “school day” it was became paramount to knowing where we were meant to be each day. You see, previously it did not affect us one way or the other, knowing what the school day was. But now, on every Day 1, she gets to sleep in a little later but more importantly, I have to remember to drive her to an entirely different school!

It took just one panicked text saying “MOM COME BACK I HAVE TO BE AT SHOPS NOT SCHOOL!” for us to start to really pay attention and get our collective calendar butts in gear.

She actually checks the calendar daily, just like I do, and adds her little comments here and there. Mostly it is the birthday’s of her favourite musicians or an outing she is particularly looking forward to/hoping we will go on.

I have, however, since decided that along with the month-at-a-glance, I could benefit from a weekly planner. I used to buy planners but wound up not using them to the fullest, skipping entire months, or getting bored by them. But I have made myself a worksheet that is a week-at-a-time printable that I can fill in with things that are important and specific to me.

Knowing what is going on each day gives me a sense of organization and calm and replaces the frazzled nerves that pop up when I realize I have forgotten things. So if you want to know what’s what….

“Check the calendar!!”

calendar

Our fridge calendar is a life saver!!

 

Don’t forget to download your own copy of the A Peek at the Week worksheet printable!

How do you remember special dates and weekly items? Are you strictly electronic? Calendar reminders pop up? Do you have a calendar actually hanging on your wall? Share in the comments near the top of this post.