This post is not about looking one’s responsibilities straight in the eye, although that is a good subject to cover!
No, this post will be all about creating a “neat” out of a mess!
It’s obvious that, no matter how we try and keep a lid on clutter, large families still need a lot of “stuff” to survive each day. Minimalists may get away with keeping only one pair of shoes by the door, but maximalists (big families) need to have a number of pairs handy; in our home that currently means 11, and at one time it meant 15!
We have to have 11 glasses, 11 plates, 11 forks and spoons, for each dinner. We need 11 coats, 11 pairs of mittens, 11 caps whenever it’s cold and we want to go out. Our eight beds need sheets and pillowcases, blankets and pillows. There are 11 towels that are used daily for personal hygiene, 11 toothbrushes that are (hopefully) used.
So, even though it is important to get rid of unwanted items in order to simplify and create ease in cleaning and maintaining a home, mothers of many still have to find ways to deal with loads of important, even essential, items everyday in such a way that the family can still enjoy peace and comfort.
When I was a young girl I worked in a retail store in the shoes and men’s-wear departments. It was eye-opening to see just how quickly everything became messy, especially if there was a terrific sale going on. If men’s jeans were discounted, at the end of the night we would enter into the dressing room and find unwanted pants piled three feet high in some places! Of course, a big portion of my job was to keep things neat and tidy, because everyone knows that potential customers are turned off by chaos and mess. In fact, we were reminded to “face” the shelves and the racks on a regular basis throughout the day.
Here’s a definition of “facing” from Wikipedia:
Facing (also known as blocking, zoning, straightening, or conditioning) is a common tool in the retail industry to create the look of a perfectly stocked store (even when it is not) by pulling all of the products on a display or shelf to the front, as well as down stacking all the canned and stacked items. It is also done to keep the store appearing neat and organized.
Did you catch all of that? “Facing” keeps things “appearing neat and organized.” Retailers have always known that shoppers will come by more often, stay longer, and purchase more if stores are neat and clean.
I believe families need to think this way, too. Consider the following photo of a hotel room:
It is not only the colors and furnishings that make this room inviting, but the fact that the surfaces are clean, the bed is neatly made, and there is an absence of clutter.
There is just something restful about neatness. I believe it is because we are made in the image of God.
And I believe that if we strive to keep things looking neat our families will feel better and there will be less stress. As the mother of 15 children I can tell you that keeping things orderly has often helped me to have a better attitude, to feel more at peace. It has not just been a neat idea, it has been part of our survival.
Now, of course there will be times daily when there will be messes, especially when Mom is the chief cook and bottle-washer, but if we have been doing those other things I have been talking about (such as getting ahead and streamlining), then it won’t take much time to get things back in alignment.
Here are some ways to try and keep all of the flotsam and jetsam of life in order:
*“Ease of use” means most used items in the front, on the top, etc. to keep everything from being disheveled every time someone has to rummage for something.
Things that need to be “faced”:
- Toothbrushes and paste and other personal care items (such as brushes and combs, barrettes, make-up and perfumes, etc.)
- Towels and linens
- Canned and dry goods
- Homeschool supplies
Of course, it is not just Mother who needs to keep things orderly, it is the job of the entire household. And while it would be ideal to have children who automatically understand how to make things look “neat,” and I have actually had a few of those, every family has a few who were unable, or unwilling, to catch on. Just what do you do with a child (children) like this? Here are a few ideas:
- Minimize the possible messy items for this person. Don’t allow him/her to keep four toothbrushes, or sixteen tubs of Lego’s. Be brutal and bring things to a minimum; it will mean a better relationship for the both of you!
- Take the time and/or expense to have some cheap bins available which are clearly labeled according to their expected contents, then make sure you inspect regularly to make sure they are placed correctly (nothing more disgusting than to find a molded apple or orange in the bin of socks!).
- Take a closet or cupboard, organize and face it, then take a picture of it, print it out, and post it inside so that a young (or old) learner will see what it should look like.
- Take a cue from retailers and have regular “facing” times, then offer a reward for neatness!
- Have the children do a “general” job, then go in and finesse it yourself (I do this as therapy some days–I do not consider it a sickness!).
Some sites that will help and inspire:
Organizing Junkie–this one is so much fun–I salivate just looking at the photos!
Among others, here is a very interesting post from iheart Organizing that discusses taking what you already have and making it look more appealing.
Now, why do we spend time organizing and making things neat and tidy?
Why, so that we can have more time to do things like this, of course!
In case you missed the other recent posts in this same vein, try Large family mtress reduction: streamlining, and Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead, part 1 and part 2.