I find it ironic that my husband will drive around, lost, for ages without stopping to ask for directions but will not stray from a recipe calling for a dried herb we don't have. Conclusion: Most men are good at following specific instructions as long as they don't have to ask for them.
So when it comes to keeping the house organized, assign a home for everything, make it easily accessible ('cause you know nothing will get put away if something else has to be moved first), and label, label, label! Whatever you do, don't require him to figure out where to store something unless you're okay with it left on the floor at the foot of the bed.
Granted, there are some men who are very organized by nature, and if you're lucky enough to have one of them at home, you should be out buying him a GPS instead of wasting your time reading this post!
You'd think her stint in the big house might have put the domestic goddess back in touch with mere mortals like us, but a quick perusal of organizing tips on her website indicates otherwise. So I've taken the liberty of modifying some of her ideas to appeal to people like me who have limited time, money, and--to put it bluntly--patience for her hoity-toity bullcrap.
Martha says: Make a handy canvas tote with lots of pockets by sewing a carpenter's nail apron... (she lost me at "sewing")
EasyPeasyLiving says: Buy a gardening tote. They have lots of pockets and often come in cute patterns.
Martha says: Create cute little calendar labels for your freezer bags out of my adorable clip-art files that will use up most of the ink in your printer cartridge. This way you will know by when you must consume the contents.
EasyPeasyLiving says: Write the date by when you should consume the contents right on the bag with a sharpie.
Martha says: Laminate a "To Do Before I Go On Vacation" list on card stock, punch with eyelet puncher and attach with decorative ribbon to your luggage so you don't forget to do anything before you go away. Laminating means you can re-use the card next time you go on vacation.
EasyPeasyLiving says: Tape your handwritten "To Do" list to the front door so that you see it before you walk out the door instead of when you are checking your luggage at the airport. By the next time you are lucky enough to get away, you are sure to have a completely different set of tasks to do before you go.
Martha says: Spend a little time creating stylish organizing tools that you can show off to all your friends. All those superficial little details will let them know you care about impressing them. It's a good thing.
EasyPeasyLiving says: Spend the time and mental energy you save by being more organized on enjoying and laughing with your friends. It lets them know you care about them. It's the real thing.
Ever since my kids' last embarrassing dental appointment I've been making a point of following behind their evening brushing job to make sure they are being thorough. They resisted at first, but I keep telling them it's just one more little way for me to show my love for them. So when I overheard this conversation between my husband and son at tuck-in time the other night, I had to chuckle.
Hubby: "Mother's Day is coming up this weekend, so we have to think of something nice we can do for Mummy."
Son: " I know! Maybe we can brush her teeth for her!"
My heart still does a little dance every time I think of that!
I've never been a jewelry-and-roses kind of mom and would much prefer to receive a lumpy clay paperweight clumsily wrapped in newspaper or a macaroni necklace that's been colored with magic marker. And while brushing my teeth for me may be more than he bargained for, I'll bet no fancy salon pedicure could ever feel so good.
But my favorite Mother's Day gift of all comes when I observe my offspring exhibiting their loving care for each other. These precious moments pop up from time to time throughout the year, not just on the second Sunday in May, and they always bring a smile to my face. Their cooperative teamwork in carrying a laundry basket upstairs, the sweet notes of comfort they write to one another to help sooth away disappointed tears, celebrating each others' successes and mourning each others' losses, sharing a favorite toy, and compromising on an activity as they play together. I even love to hear them echoing my advice. "When you are feeling frustrated, take a deep breath, relax and count to ten."
Sure, it isn't all sunshine and roses, and there is an equal amount of arguing, but I cling to these gifts as proof that they really are listening and all my efforts are not in vain. I believe that a mother is not someone who has borne or raised a child but someone who plants seeds of love and kindness and patiently tends the shoots until they blossom and make the world more beautiful. Happy Mother's Day to all you "gardeners" out there.
What's the best/funniest/sweetest/most memorable Mother's Day gift you've ever given or received?
Okay, I will admit that there are days when living does not feel so easy peasy. You know the ones I mean...where the simplest tasks just seem to take so much extra effort, and worries about work, family, money, health or the future weigh on your soul, threatening to pull you under the current of daily life. I'm having one of those days today, in fact.
Sometimes we are so busy swimming as fast as we can to keep up that we forget to enjoy the water. We allow our fears of encountering a big shark to prevent us from noticing all the tiny colorful fish and the playful dolphins. Okay, I think you get the picture. Corny ocean metaphors aside, the point is that life's beauty is mostly found in the details. Sure, it's important to have big picture goals and dreams, but that picture will be pretty bland and boring if you omit the fine points.
It is on those dark days, when I feel like I'm drowning and despair starts to take hold, that I find myself desperately searching for the tiniest clues that life really is worth the effort of living. It is then that I become more keenly aware of the awesomeness of the nature that surrounds me and begin to appreciate the small kindnesses of the strangers I encounter which would normally go unnoticed. I become more grateful for even the littlest gestures by friends and family that allow me to really feel their unconditional love.
That friendly store clerk who goes the extra mile to help you, the neighbor who cuts your grass for you unasked, the child who draws you a picture, the sister who calls you to share a cute story about her grandchild just to brighten your day without even realizing how dark it was, the beautiful flowering bush in your front yard that reminds you of a lost loved one...I prefer to think of each of these as little love notes from God. But whatever your beliefs, these little details are not just clues that life is worth living...they are the point of living at all. A stable job, good health, a firm financial foundation, a solid future, and yes--even organization and efficiency-- are not the point of life...they are but tools to help you enjoy the real thing and the vehicle by which you can help others enjoy theirs. Remember that each of us has the opportunity to play the role of lifeguard for someone else when we become the store clerk, the neighbor, the child, the sister, and even the flowering bush that elicits beautiful memories, if we just take the time out of our busy day to do it.
So next time you're having a not-so-easy peasy day, slow down a bit and just enjoy the water...you just may find that it feels pretty good in here!
I try to make a point of going through my storage area at least once or twice a year to pare down things I no longer need and to stem the tide of the post-Christmas or post-party chaos that sometimes creeps in and threatens to take hold in there. I have a couple of "memorabilia" bins that had been added to quite a bit since the kids started school and had not been looked through in quite a few years, so I decided it was time to take a look and pare down the contents to just the items that were really worthy of taking up that valuable space.
One of the things I found in there was my old "idea folder" of holiday crafts, kid activities and recipes that I had begun collecting back when I was single and bored and hoping to someday have a family, which would naturally come with oodles and oodles of time and energy for executing all these brilliant ideas. It was pretty amusing to realize that there had once been a time when I actually thought I'd someday master the culinary expertise required for making individual edible violin desserts out of a pear half with chocolate frets and spun sugar strings like the one featured on the cover of a Harry & David catalogue. Seriously, Valerie?!!!
Clearly I was living in a fantasy world where work, laundry, grocery shopping, menu planning, homework tutoring and ironing do not exist and motherhood is all about making homemade herb and cheese crackers, cupcakes that look like Sesame Street characters, and hand printed wrapping paper. I obviously didn't count on having children who were picky eaters with little desire to decorate sugar cookies and with more interest in finger painting outside in the mud and acting out a pretend episode of Scooby Doo Meets Darth Vader than creating faux stained glass Christmas tree ornaments out of tissue paper. If you had told me this cold, hard truth back then, I would have been devastated, but life has a funny way of changing your priorities. Sure, there are moments when I wish my kids shared my love of crafts and baking, but I wouldn't trade my little actress and Picasso for anything in the world. I delight in watching them show their creativity in a million different ways that are uniquely their own and take pleasure in surprising them with mine on special occasions. The truth is that now that I am a wife and mother, I would rather spend my time cuddled up with my kids watching The Lion King or using my imagination to come up with creative ways to teach them their table manners.
Easy peasy living isn't just about getting organized and managing your time more efficiently. It's about keeping your goals in sync with your priorities and adapting them to life's ever-changing perspectives. I thought about keeping the "idea folder" for a time in the future when the kids are grown and I once again have time to indulge in learning how to make individual edible violin desserts, but I quickly realized that I would prefer to keep that space available for remembering what my children and I actually did do together instead of what I might (or, more likely, might not) do someday in the future by myself.
How often do we hold onto things that might benefit us someday and by doing so give up something that most definitely will benefit us today? Throwing out the idea folder not only freed up about 6 inches of space in that bin, it freed me from my regrets at not having accomplished my outdated, unrealistic goals of yesteryear. And most importantly, it gave me permission to move onto new goals, to collect new memories, and to rid myself of all the "someday" stuff hogging up valuable space in my brain as well as my storage area. If you are storing materials for use in projects from your old someday idea folder, ask yourself these questions:
Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.