Ok. Let's be honest. I need ALOT of help.
Getting organized, getting rid of clutter, streamlining things, keeping track of stuff, ending our packrat ways...however you want to phrase it, that's what we need. Ok we're not really "packrats" in the strongest sense of the word, but some days it feels that way. Papers, papers everywhere. Clothes always living in the laundry basket. Kids' toys that somehow work themselves out of the toy boxes and into every nook and cranny of my house -- as I'm typing this I can look around and see a Hot Wheels car on the kitchen table, 2 DVD cases (likely without the DVD's inside of them if I know J) on the floor next to the TV cabinet, various Mega Blocks peeking out from under the couch, a large bouncing ball that's supposed to stay in the yard chillaxin' inside next to the patio doors, broken sidewalk chalks also right inside the patio door, some kind of Fisher Price junk (I know it's FP by the distinctive yellow/purple/blue color scheme) peeking out from under the couch, refrigerator letter magnets in the corner of the bathroom, random preschool artwork on the counters....
I know the problem areas, and I try to stay on top of them, but I feel like this is a real losing battle. For about 6 months last year we had a cleaning service come in every other week, mostly to deal with the floors (curse you, wall-to-wall ceramic tile!!) and the bathrooms. It was HEAVEN. But then...well, then I lost my job so we had to do away with that. It doesn't help that TH has a *teeny tiny* hoarder-type personality and is loathe to throw things away.
Here's where I need your help. How do I get organized? What do you guys do with all the papers, the toys, the clothes, the clutter? How do people have neat, tidy, organized houses when they work full time and have 2 small yet very active children? Are you just cleaning/organizing ALL THE TIME? Please tell me that's not the secret.
Here's the rundown of my most problematic problems:
- No family room or separate living/formal area. This was the #1 mistake we made when we bought this house, buying into the whole "open floor plan" schtick. Never again. I hate hate hate that when you come in the front door you can look straight through into the kitchen and see if there are dirty dishes in the sink. Or toys everywhere. I would love to keep all of the kid stuff sequestered upstairs in their rooms, but that's just not realistic. Maybe when they're both old enough to play unsupervised, but for now Jr. at least has to be where I am - if I'm downstairs making dinner or on the computer or, well, cleaning, he has to be down here with me and thus we can't keep the toys out of the "formal" living space. We've got a couple of bookshelves with baskets and 2 storage ottomans, yet things seem to be overflowing all the time.
- The papers. Oy, the papers. There's 2 factors here. TH and I have been witness to a really horrifying case of identity theft in my immediate family involving someone lifting personal information from a discarded credit card statement. So now, I'll admit it, we're a little paranoid about what goes into the trash/recycling. Therefore there's always a stack of stuff "to go through" and a box of stuff waiting to be shredded. Always. We never seem to get to the bottom of that box! The other factor is that we try to recycle anything that's recyclable, so there's also always stuff needing to go into recycling, which is nice and green and everything but when I look at bundled up boxes and papers and plastic bottles by the door it just feels like a pile of trash to me and I hate looking at it.
- Toys. Short of going on a Throwing Things Out rampage, I really need a better way to keep these toys from overtaking our house. And I'm not talking about big bulky toys - it's those godforsaken little pieces that seem to be everywhere. There's only so many "storage solution" bins and containers and baskets you can have in a room before the boxes themselves start to look like clutter.
I really do need help. I'm embarassed to have people come to my house - I know it's not really that bad, but before I got married and had kids I was used to a much neater house. I know I shouldn't spend so much time worrying about a messy house but I'm one of those people who actually gets physically stressed when I feel like I'm surrounded by clutter and disorganization, and then when I don't have the time to really get it all done (or to get it done to my liking) I just get more stressed out.