“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Okay, so last week, we shoved the clutter in all the places and cleared all the spaces. The week before, we determined roles and responsibilities of all the housemates. At this point, we have a clean slate and no questions about who is keeping what clean and how.

Now it’s time to dive deep, room per room, cupboard per cupboard, drawer per drawer, and make life easier. It’s time to give yourself permission to change what’s not working. If we don’t like what we are doing; if it is not easy or fun to accomplish, then we won’t keep it up. It would be insane to continue this way, and still hold the expectation that it will eventually result in a happy, orderly, kept up home.

Let’s get the picture with a story…(swipe left)

On a dark and stormy night, with wind howling and branches rustling, I unsuspectingly opened my kitchen cupboard and was trampled!! (By containers!) I barely survived the chaos and mayhem taking over...I let out a scream in fright!! 

Okay, drama aside, my container cupboard was a nightmare.

I hated putting my containers away because they were in constant disarray, falling out of the cupboard, and in a backbreaking bottom corner cupboard in my kitchen. The container situation was so out of control that whenever I had a clean dishwasher full of containers, I swear to you, I did everything and anything else but put that load of dishes away. Why? Because it both physically and mentally hurt me to put those dang containers away. I felt actual pain bending down to put them in the cupboard and frustration tossing them all back in as they fell over each other. This situation disrupted my peace and caused me action paralysis; it was not sustainable.

Then one day, I saw a Rubbermaid Container Set on sale, and something clicked in me. My current process wasn’t working and I needed to do something different! So, I bought 3 of those Rubbermaid Container Sets.

Shortly after, I donated all of my old containers, rearranged my kitchen cupboards, and put my shiny, new containers in an easy to reach upper cupboard. I made a mental boundary that day, telling myself I would never accept random containers into my collection, opting to donate them instead. And here we are, over 5 years later, and my collection has remained! And, yes, my dishwasher gets emptied without physical or emotional delay. The only change is that my containers now live on the top shelf of my Lazy Susan, conveniently located to the right of my dishwasher.

Easy to sort, easy to get to, easy to put away and organize. Keep it fun and easy, not perfect.

As I write this, I caught myself wondering, why did it take so long for me to give myself that permission to change what wasn’t working.

And after staring off into introspective space a few minutes, I realized that in order to give myself permission to change what wasn’t working, I needed to first be aware of the fact that it was, indeed, not working for me.

Change is good. Awareness is hard. But your life will transform when you become aware of what you need to change to make it better, easier, more fun, and sustainable.

But who am I kidding, containers are easy!! What about organizing the innards of an entire room? I spent my weekend doing just that (after weeks of mental meditation, taking note of what I like to do, what I actually do, and how I can make it easy to ask my toddler for help).

Here are some photos of the evolution of the internal organization of my childrens’ playroom:

The left side shows my before: I thought having the toys in the drawers would be easier for my daughter to access and put back, but she ended up paying no attention and would get frustrated when the drawer didn’t close easily. The right shows my after: I decided the drawers would hold baby blankets. I purposely DID NOT fold the blankets because I use them so often and decided that clothes deserved my folding time & effort, but baby blankets do not.
I have rearranged my childrens’ playroom several times. I had toys in bins, then blankets in bins, and now toys are back in bins. I was experimenting to discover what worked best. My daughter, who is 2, will help me pick up when I pull out a bin and sing the cleanup song, so that is how I will keep the toys. I also have an extra storage unit for toys that I will spend some time organizing by category, but only when I am motivated to. Bottom line: I am not going to stress about what goes in what bins or drawers. I have designated the “hard to reach” bin for dirty clothes/blankets, and the rest for just “toys,” so I can worry less and inspire my children to help me keep up more.
Above, I used to have some toys in my couch storage compartment, but they were never used, so I opted to store blankets in there now that it’s summer. Item use should always dictate item location The lower left image shows my playroom a year ago, and the bottom right shows it now. The space will continue to change as my children change & grow. We have added a reading tent, an easel, a small table (not shown), and all the awkward-sized toys are out on display. It’s not perfect, but it stays picked up. And that is key. We are going for what flow naturally results in effortless order.

These pictures show you that constant change is necessary to finding what works best. You must experiment, change up your environment, and not only work with yourself, but with those you live with. And when you embrace that, you will find your peace.

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