Cleaning and organization have never been my strengths. I have always prided myself on being “creative.” Every school assignment, ice-breaker, and the like, I never failed to use “creative” to describe myself. You know what they say about creative minds and working spaces? They go hand-in-hand: They’re — for lack of a better term — messy.
I, admittedly, am no exception to this rule.
I recall my first morning as a stay-at-home parent. The only thing bigger than my ambitions that morning was my appetite, and with the caffeine already settling in my system, I reached up for a mixing bowl to make some scrambled eggs. Before I knew it, I was swimming in a sea of random utensils, lid-less containers, and “As Seen on TV” culinary contraptions. Ever so calmly, I reacted with a simple “Hmm,” and a slight head nod.
Before I knew it, my daughter entertained herself with a confusing amount of spatulas, and I was tackling the cabinets in our kitchen. It didn’t take long for me to realize that organizing the kitchen was not an easy feat. Yet, look at me now: attempting to share my words of wisdom to you all in honor of “Get Organized Month.” (For some post-holiday organizational tips, check out this article from a fellow Indianapolis mom.)
Who am I kidding, though? Determined to make this post a reality, I sat down, months later, at my makeshift workspace in the basement and used my ENTIRE forearm to clear a spot clear and comfortable enough to write. Hello, Imposter Syndrome? It’s me, Samantha. Therefore, I deleted the lengthy list of organizational ideas I had brainstormed, scrolled through my social media feeds a few times (Erm, when is “Stop Procrastinating Month”?), and recollected my intentions for this blog.
Let’s look at the why. Why is organization so difficult for some? Why is it so hard to keep things organized? Why do we associate being organized with “having it together”? Why is there such an emphasis on organization that has led to countless TV shows, product lines, and How-To books being created? Organization is a complex process. It is contradictory. It is chaotic.
Lack of organization has always increased my anxiety. Sure, I can tell my husband that I want the pair of shorts that is three inches below the pair of pants I wore to our Thanksgiving celebration in 2017, which are hanging off of my vanity stool at a slight 38* angle and parallel to my smartwatch charger on the floor. One may think this skill of mine is impressive. However, my lack of “control,” or organization here, is actually quite a nuisance mentally.
When things are out of sorts, my mind constantly races to recall where everything is at all times. Never fails. My previously mentioned “talent” is nothing more than one more hamster on my brain’s giant wheel, which never stops turning. It is one less thing on my metaphorical plate by organizing and keeping up with said organization. Which parent doesn’t need that most of the time, am I right?
With that being said, though, it is important to understand that it is far too easy to overwhelm yourself with organizational tasks quickly. It took me weeks to get our tiny-house-sized kitchen into sorts. I started with two cabinets, and the next week, I tackled another two. So on, and so forth. Once the cabinets were done, I took some time to organize the drawers. The pattern continued, and every now and then, I circle back to the cabinets from Week 1, etc. I realize now how acceptable that is. Admirable, in fact! I frequently applauded myself for the seemingly trivial and clever steps I have taken in my organization journey.
My creativity does not go unused in this aspect of my life. Like most dogs in the 21st century, our dogs demand green beans atop their kibble *Insert pinky-up gesture here*. Well, it is hard to find “no sodium added” canned green beans, so when I find them, I stock up. Having 10+ cans of green beans on my countertop at all times became a balancing act of which I had had enough. Can holders seemed like a lot for our new one-salary budget, and I could not find one on a local thrift page. Until I found one, I used a box from a 12-pack of soda. Certainly not the prettiest item in my kitchen. It worked, though, and it felt like a small weight off my shoulders. That is all that mattered!
As previously mentioned, this process has been months long for me. It goes without saying that none of these revelations have come quick or easy; however, I have learned and grown throughout this time. One of the last tough lessons I will leave you with is that it is perfectly acceptable to admit it when an idea does not work. I cannot help but chuckle at how many times I so badly tried to get my husband to remember the “new home” for the toaster. “Why can’t he just remember this one spot?!” I kept thinking.
Well, because it did not work for him, and if it did not work for him, I realized it did not work for us. As parents, spouses, and humans, we need to acknowledge the needs of those loved ones around us. Just because I felt better did not mean that it did not still or freshly create frustrations for my partner. With a brief yet productive conversation, my husband explained that his brain did not connect the toaster’s new spot quite as mine did. Although it may seem tedious and silly, we found a spot that worked for both of us after a couple of trials. Hooray! All bagels in our home will now be toasted in a relaxed manner just as they had intended to be.
All jokes aside, organization is not easy, folks. If it were, it would not have its own month to celebrate. Streaming services would be a little short on viewing material, and I would not have semi-jokingly asked my husband if I could spend my holiday money entirely on plastic bins of various sizes. Organization is not a sprint. It’s not even a marathon. It’s a hobby – a lifestyle if you will. It takes phases, persistence, and practice. One could also say it takes a little creativity!