I did not grow up as an organized person. Sure, I loved the idea of being organized and writing everything down; but in practice I just wasn’t good at it. It’s just not a skill that I learned growing up. And that’s ok. But it’s something that I have worked very hard in my adult life to change, and it’s made me a more mindful person. It’s proven to be helpful to our entire family in several different ways:
It’s no secret that my anxiety has been a struggle for me over the last few years. But one trigger that I noticed was clutter. When the house is untidy or I can’t find things because they don’t have a true home, it makes me anxious. And even more than that, I found that the times I got the most frustrated with Henry were when he was getting into something that I shouldn’t have had out in the first place. He’s a toddler and I can’t expect him to know that I don’t want the bills touched and why. So once I started organizing, my baseline anxiety went down tremendously and I no longer was getting upset with Henry for things that weren’t under his control.
Taking care of small children and a house is tough work. There’s no getting around that. We’ve lived in this house for a year, and most of our evenings used to be filled with tidying up, doing dishes, and attempting to put things away. And you know what? The job was never complete. There was always something else to do, making it difficult for us to simply enjoy the time we had in the evenings without kids. Now that most of the areas in our house are organized, we spend less time tidying and more time cultivating our relationship as a couple and as a family. It’s brought us all closer together. Will has more time to play with the kids before and after work, and I have more time to dream up new ways to pursue my passions and focus on how to make myself the best version of me that I can be.
At first, this may seem counterintuitive. After all, the items used to organize do cost money (although you can find many of them for very cheap – more on that soon). But hear me out. Since I organized our pantry, our weekly grocery bill has been cut by about $40 each week! That’s real dollars that we’re saving each and every week simply because I know what we have already and I’m not wasting food. For the sake of actual numbers, that’s more than $2000 for the entire year. When I cleaned out the pantry, I found five – yes, FIVE – open bags of Trader Joe’s Rainbow Trail Mix (because obviously it’s the best). I just kept buying them thinking that I needed more. And the same concept goes with bathroom items. I cannot tell you how many open containers of lotion and soap and hair products I found and subsequently I threw away. Knowing where everything goes has given me the freedom to utilize what I do have and not waste anything, therefore saving money.
This quest to organize hasn’t been a piece of cake. But it’s been completely and absolutely worth it. Will and I are both happier since making these changes; it’s made a great deal of difference throughout very chaotic times. And now that these systems are in place, they’re so much easier to maintain. These changes didn’t happen overnight. However, they’ve become instrumental in giving me back some of my most valuable resource: time.