Organization series: big impact moves & solutions to marital disagreements about cleaning

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Series Introduction & First Tip: "Don't be a basket-case, just get a basket"

I swear, baskets have done so much more to smooth out living together than any marriage advice book or column I've ever read.

When A and I moved in together, one of the first things I realized was, newsflash, we need different things out of our living space.  Organizing, cleaning, and decorating in a way we both love (or can live with) has been one of our biggest "everyday challenges" as a couple.  We both recognize that this is genuinely hard for us and, consequently, we have been able to step back from it, work with each other, tease each other, compromise a lot, and ultimately, we've found a way to actually have fun working on this challenge.

I'm going to write about some of the easiest, biggest impact things we've done.  But, since everything we've done has required us to make mental shifts and to think a lot, it just won't fit in one post.  I'm going to write in a series.  This is a series for everyone with any relationship conflict regarding shared living space, and just a few smart things I've learned on the continual journey toward a de-cluttered home.  Also, still learning, if anyone has anything they have done that's worked well, please let me know!

The first step toward creating a home we both love, was recognizing that A and I have different needs from space, and neither one of us is wrong.  We all need different things.  For some people, particularly women, clutter can add extra stress to your brain that prevents you from fully being able to let go.  I am in this category.  My husband is not.  In fact, to him, a completely de-cluttered spotless dwelling would not be a space, not a home.  Needless to say, we approach everything differently.  But, one thing that has helped us bridge our gaps is baskets.

One thing on which A and I initially agreed, was the appropriate function of a bedroom floor, particularly with respect to clothes.  I wanted a clear floor.  He wanted a functional floor.  Holding clothes is the function of a bedroom floor, he once advised.  For awhile, we just fought about it.  Then, finally, I had a break-through mental shift.

The first, and probably most important, step toward getting our home into a state I like was to recognize that neither A, nor his behaviors, nor any of my behaviors, are the problem.  The clothes, often clothes A wasn't quite ready to wash and planned to wear again soon, are the problem, not the behavior.  I wanted a solution that results in a clear floor.  A wanted a solution that pays tribute to the role of the bedroom floor in holding clothing.   We started looking at finding that solution as the challenge, not fixing the behavior.  We discovered baskets.  Everything changed after we discovered baskets.

Now, we have a large, pretty cute basket, that sits on the floor, and A tosses his clothes that aren't quite ready for the hamper into the basket.  It's amazing.  I'm happy.  A is happy.  The floor is mostly clear.  We never get upset about this.  If A forgets one day, or heck, if I'm lazy one day (yeah, I started using the basket too...) we can just toss the offending sweatshirt into the basket and it's over.

The basket solution was such a smashing success to the "clothes problem" that baskets have multiplied and migrated in our home.  We now have the newspaper basket, (pictured left, okay, so sometimes it overflows) which is the holding place for newspapers we haven't quite yet recycled, the bedroom dresser drawer basket (as you can see, things don't always quite make it in the basket, but it's still SO much better), and the kitchen-bar basket (mostly used by me for pieces of mail, keys, running pouch and headphones).

This is such an easy thing to implement--our baskets are all from Target--and it makes such a big difference.  Not only does our space look better, but we avoid so many of those little, tiny, "Did you really leave that out again?  Annoying," moments throughout the day.

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