I was watching the Today Show earlier this week and they had a professional organizer showing Carson and Hoda some approaches to maintaining an orderly space. They were showed this one snack drawer that was to die for. Really? A snack drawer, you ask? Yes. It was magnificent. I could have sat with that drawer open and stared at it for hours. The rectangular shaped snacks on one side of the drawer, circular on another, and individual chip bags standing up, lining the back. This is something that could never be consistent in my home. I have two of my own wonderful children in addition to a bunch of awesome neighborhood kids in and out of the house regularly. Can I really expect a crew of about seven teenage boys and a gaggle of tweens to calmly peruse the snack drawer after school, neatly making choices, and putting the remainder of the snacks back in their proper place? I simply cannot see this happening and seriously, I do not want to be the mom who nags about things like this. There are too many other things I need to be picky about. “Put that rectangular granola bar back on the left side of the drawer!” is not something I want to be yelling about. Yes, sometimes that pesky perfectionism thing wants to rear it’s ugly head, so I can have an impeccably organized drawer and feel like a success of a mother and homemaker, especially when I see such shining examples of what is possible, on the Today Show. But it’s not where I want to put my energy. Some of you mentioned perfectionism in your comments on the first blog, and we will get to that. But first, I’m going to show you how I keep things looking neat, and all of us sane. Well, sane is a relative term, right?
I use these clear plastic bins to house an abundance of individual snacks. I think bins are great for many reasons, and they work really well, especially because my snacks are kept in a cabinet as opposed to a drawer. This method does work in both places.
First of all, the front area/first row of a cabinet is prime real estate! Everyone loves looking for things in the front row, but God forbid the search for an item requires the bending of knees or the shuffling of a box or two…forget it! Not worth the five second effort. You will for sure hear a “Mom, I can’t find the Cheez Its,” right after that quick glance at the first row has occurred. With a bin, you can pull it right out of the cabinet, not have to bend, shuffle items, or tilt your head to see what’s in the back. It requires minimal effort. You look in the bin, rummage around, find what you need, and viola! Put the bin right back on the shelf. Everything stays in one place, not strewn all over the cabinet. It is contained and neat. The kids can for sure, keep up with this. There is also a bin for larger snack and chip packages and as you can see from the pictures, it just looks neater as opposed to haphazardly placed in the cupboard. I like to use clear bins, so that I can see through the sides and bottom, a better indication of what snacks are inside without having to rummage so much. Maybe the chaos of those snacks is something you want to hide? Use colored or opaque bins. Then when you look into your pantry, all you see are two nice bins sitting there.
Again, that theme of an organized mess comes up. This bin method is a standard that can be maintained and it still looks nice. Perfection is not something constant. Perfection is for moments, not maintenance. On a gorgeous day, you look at your lawn that was just mowed, edges trimmed, and you are filled with a satisfaction like no other. It is perfection. But sure enough, that grass is going to grow, and leaves and branches are bound to fall. It’s temporarily perfect. When I clean my basement, sometimes I just sit on the steps, staring at the finished room. It is so rewarding and freak that I am, I’m filled with joy. Soon enough though, I will be receiving bags of hand-me-downs that will sit there until I can look through them, or holiday bins will be pulled out for decoration. In fact, as I type this, my husband just came in the house with the Christmas lights from the bushes. “I’m just going to put these in the basement!” When I have a moment, they will go into the proper bin, but they will sit in the “transition area” until I do. The basement perfection truly does happen, but it is not permanent. Organization is a process.
Oooooh, want to know what perfect is? My Thanksgiving table setting. It is a source of great joy for me. However, this kind of perfection, (the special tablecloths, ironed cloth napkins, handmade name cards, dishes, matching glasses, and floral centerpiece), happens once a year. At no other time does such care go into all these tiny details, yet on the other occasions I am entertaining, no one ever complains that things are not flawlessly done. People are simply happy to be gathering. Connecting with others should never be deterred because our houses aren’t perfect. I, too, have to make sure I don’t fall into that trap, but really, life is too short for that.
Believe me, I am not recommending a life of mediocrity, with high standards never being the goal. Quite the opposite. What I truly believe in is doing your best in the moment, with a result that gets the job done while bringing satisfaction, and at the same time, can be maintained. Think about what can bring you joy and satisfaction as opposed to thinking about a crazy Martha Stewart or Today Show standard that is just going to stress you out.
Remember, perfection is for moments. Satisfaction and joy are for maintaining.