Trying to sort out my house after years of neglect, pushing, shoving, piling stuff everywhere in every room makes me think of those little slider puzzles I used to start when I was little. Notice I said start, not do, not finish, as I rarely finished anything like this. I would get it close enough to see that I was a few steps from the end, and would be satisfied to complete it mentally. It was good enough for me to know I could do it, I didn’t have to prove it to myself.
But now I apply this theory to my house, and it is not a pretty sight. I know I could spend all day sorting out these boxes and piles and bins, but I just don’t want to finish.
My house is tiny. Each room about 10 x 12 feet. Each wall lined with bins full of our hobbies – paints, papers, musical instruments, tools, computer parts, random odd gadgets, books, toys,etc. Each room has a walkable path from doorway to doorway, no other clear space. It’s not like hoarding, we actually use all of the various items, and we are all terrible at organizing them once we use them and just throw things towards the bins as we fly out the door. And the piles don’t reach the ceiling, just a few bins stacked up. So it is bad – but nothing like you see on TLC.
Anyways, I had a specific goal of getting out the doormat from beneath the baskets we use to hold our shoes/boots. Baskets were too heavy to pick up full. So options here are to empty the baskets. I enlist the kids to start this task, knowing they are experts at emptying bins. Yup, in just a minute, the entire floor of the mudroom (I am only stroking the mudroom’s ego to call it a room, or mine, as I like to think I have a mudroom, it is really just an entryway off the side of the kitchen about 4 x 6 ft.) is covered with shoes/boots. So we can now pick up the baskets, but can not set the doormat onto the floor until the shoes are replaced into the baskets. And the baskets now can’t go back on the floor either as the shoes have expanded somehow. Daughter will not allow the boy shoes into her basket, even if just for a minute, so we stack baskets. Picture me, not a huge woman, but still adult sized, and several small helpers all in this “mudroom” with a now wobbly floor because we’re all standing on shoes. I tell everyone to freeze, then start directing kids to take 1 step left, 1 step back, 1 step right, until we all maneuver into position.
Another example, this goal was to sweep and mop the dining room/office/music room/art studio. It has a piano (upright-not grand!) a dining table that is meant for 1 less person than we routinely have dining there, a kid’s computer desk, my office/art studio/music room (ego stroking again, it is just another computer desk) and a pie safe used as a pantry. Each of these objects are surrounded by art boxes, file boxes, hobby boxes. So we push these boxes under the table to sweep/ mop 1 corner. Then push boxes back, and push another stack under computer desk to sweep mop there. We keep pushing boxes into the one empty space, trying not to trap ourselves. It is quite challenging. And usually right when we are 2 steps from done, something happens. A kid gets hurt (he kicked me Mom!), sick; the phone rings; a toddler needs to potty; the stove timer beeps, time to go to scouts/rehearsal/friends etc. So we learn to live with the boxes in the new location for a few days(weeks, months) until we can get back to that project.
I am stuck with these items in the main house since they would freeze or get too hot in garage, and basement is too damp.
It is endless and exhausting.
One day I fear I will forget to leave that one open spot, and my slider puzzle room will be stuck, unable to slide, and we will all be trapped. Boxed and binned into a corner until hubby comes home and can dig us out from his side.