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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Organization Challenge - The Car

Last week my children started back to school, so I decided to jump right in to my Better Homes and Gardens decluttering challenge and maximize the manpower available to put into it.

I implemented Tip 12, which reads, Every time you arrive home, clear the car of anything that doesn't permanently belong in it. Keep a tote or basket in the car for this purpose, and draft your passengers to help - nobody leaves the car empty handed. Stay vigilant and it will become second nature.

My car has enough socks in it for every foot on a centipede. And the back seat passengers have stuffed cups into cup holders and then stuffed cups into those cups and cups into the cups stuffed in those cups. A variety of shoes, T-shirts, jeans, even underwear is scattered throughout, making my automobile look like a thrift store on wheels. We had plenty to work with in regard to Tip 12.

On Tuesday, when we pulled into our driveway after school, I said, "Everybody get your stuff and one other thing out of the car." I never guessed how confusing that single instruction would be. I faced blank stares in the rearview mirror. So I continued, "The one other thing could be anything, like trash, clothing, a toy, anything. Just get it out of my car and put it in its proper place."

Each child selected one item. Four bubblegum wrappers were taken from the car and dropped in the trashcan. At this rate it would take until January 2013 before I could see the floor of my car again. On top of that, I glanced in the backseat to see that some child had cleaned all of his December papers out of his backpack and thrown them down. But, he did remove the gum wrapper as requested.

On Wednesday, when we parked in the driveway after school, I announced, "Get your backpack, your school papers, plus one additional item and remove them from the car and put everything where it belongs."

They believe that everything belongs in the floor just inside the front door of the house. Here's the caveat to cleaning out the car: Yes, the car is tidier, but all that stuff that was in the car is now in the house. Is that any better?

One child retrieved all of the papers he had strewn the day before, but another child left the shoes he had worn on his feet to school.

By Friday, I was saying, through gritted teeth, "Get your backpack, anything that has ever been in your backpack, any clothing you wore on your body today, any hair accessory you wore in your hair today, the wrappers from your after-school snack, and take it all inside. This is your stuff. In addition to that, pick up something else that is in our car - whether it is yours or not, whether you left it in here or not, whether you think it has any value or not, whether it is gross or not - and take it and put it where it belongs. Absolutely nothing belongs in the floor just inside the front door. You may put your item in the trash or in the dirty clothes or in the kitchen or in the playroom or in your own room or in your brother's room or in your sister's room or in my room. Are we clear?"

"Yes, ma'am," they said, weary from my diatribe.

But I wasn't clear, because I found a bubblegum wrapper in the dirty clothes and a sock in the trashcan by the front door and I cussed vigilance.


Alice Masci said...

I think you've been spying on my house. I haven't found your hidden cameras yet, but one day I'll figure it out. ;-)

Alice Masci
Mom of 5 boys and a cat in GA

Lucy Adams said...

All I ask Alice is that you keep giving me material 8D