I’ve always had this notion about housekeeping that if everything was not 100% put away, it was still a mess. I left little room for actually living in the house. It’s not to say my house was always well kempt by any means. I mean to say when I DID manage to pick up everything, if there were still items in process around then it still didn’t feel cleaned up.
In the book Home Comforts, I had a huge aha moment. Actually, I had several. I wrote about the first one in my post Neatening and the Broken Window theory. In the same chapter, Mendelson suggests trying to stay 100% neat all the time is not only unrealistic, but excessively compulsive. However, we can learn to keep things orderly AND allow for less than a perfectly picked up house. One of those secrets, she suggests, is to establish temporary holding stations. “Neat well-organized homes tend to have a variety of these temporary holding stations. Consider establishing one whenever you see an annoying pattern of mess developing.”
As the name implies, these are areas in the house that are designated for items before they are put away. Your dirty clothes, for example, live in hampers until they can be cleaned. Many families have a bin on their kitchen counter to hold bills until they are ready to be paid.
Hearing this was a total light bulb moment for me. I was given permission to let things be in process, but it also showed me how to contain the mess without breaking the proverbial window.
We always seemed to be collecting items on our kitchen counter that not only didn’t belong there, but didn’t belong in our house at all. Our parents are great about giving us leftovers, but we were always collecting all sorts of their Tupperware and dishes. My girls constantly have sleepovers with their friends and almost always toothbrushes, hair bows and shirts are left behind. Packages mounted, waiting to get to the post office. Bags of items that needed to be returned hung from door handles.
I remembered Home Comforts and realized we had a very “annoying pattern of mess developing.”
While we were Christmas shopping, I found a medium-sized basket on clearance at Target, I put it in the living room, close to our front door to act as our lost and found.
Now, when I’m cleaning up and I come upon something that doesn’t belong, I just stick it in the basket. When my mom drops by, I know to check the basket for anything that might be hers. When I’m headed out the door, I check for any returns to stores.
It’s really been one of the best things we’ve added to the house in quite some time.
Do you have a lost and found area or something similar?