Yesterday I went into quite a bit of detail about how I’ve managed to almost conquer the clutter in my home. I say this as I eye a massive mound of magazines and catalogs, all of which arrived today or yesterday, heaped on my coffee table, demanding my attention. But mostly, I’ve got it down to a manageable level! And this is how. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I make sure the important things get done and then delegate, fudge, or otherwise curtail the rest of the things to make my life saner, and to give me more time for the things I love (my husband, my kids, writing!). Here’s what I consider the small stuff:
1. Baking: I don’t love to bake. I love the idea of baking, I love buying things to bake with, and I love the homey smell and the whole domestic-icity of baking, but I don’t love to bake. I like to cook so much more, because it’s less precise and less exacting. And when I do bake, I don’t have the patience to decorate things so that they look beautiful. And who has the time? I’ll tell you who. My sister, Nelly, who is a part-time dentist, a supermom of three beautiful little girls, and an amazing baker. For the rest of us, here’s what I suggest: bakeries. Much to my husband’s disappointment (his mom baked all of their cakes as kids), I buy my girls birthday cakes from great local bakeries, Not only do they taste better, but they are beautiful, which is very important to me. I have lots of pretty serving pieces, and I always take the cakes or whatever out of the boxes and present them beautifully. When I do “bake,” I use an organic baking mix and really good quality ingredients, and sometimes add my own touches. For instance, I usually add chocolate chips to a store bought chocolate cake mix, or almond extract to white cake mix. I discovered these amazing natural mixes by a company called Sofella at World Market, and I bought the whole line: monkey bread, red velvet cake with vanilla frosting, spice cake, even doughnut mix (which I plan to use in a princess mold baking thing that I just bought). I also love the Sticky Fingers scone mixes, which I make for family brunches and have become my signature. They are truly incredible.
2. Folding: Okay, this may be pushing it for some people, but I try to avoid folding clothing whenever possible. This is because I hate it and don’t have the patience for it. So for myself and my daughers, I do not fold underwear, bathing suits or pajamas. Underwear gets tossed in the underwear drawer, and pjs go into a decorative wooden trunk (Eva’s room), a pink leather bin with a lid (Lola’s room), a canvas bin on a lower closet shelf (my room). It works, and I get to avoid folding tons of tiny things. Another sneaky trick, which may or may not work for you, is that I don’t fold sheets? I simply ball them up and stuff them in the linen closet. Horrible, I know, but true. Sometimes I put them in one of the pillowcases, if they are sheets that we don’t use that often. Then they are easy to find and the whole set is together. But the master bedroom sheet sets, which get rotated every week, get balled up and shoved in there. I am not proud of it, but there it is! Fortunately my husband doesn’t mind wrinkled sheets!
3. Ironing: I loathe laundry, just like everyone in the world does. So I don’t add insult to injury by attempting to actually iron anything. I do everything I can to avoid ironing, from fluffing out clothes the second they leave the dryer to laying them flat to dry to sending them to the cleaners.
4. Worry about the unseen stuff: Unless it effects the quality of my life, or would drive me crazy otherwise, I try not to worry too much about what the insides of drawers and cabinets look like. For example, the regular dishes in my kitchen are neat, for the most part, but the girls’ dishes are thrown hodge-podge into a cabinet because they are a mess of assorted melamine pieces in different shapes and sizes. I like things to be easy to access but also easy to put away, so if it’s not easy, then I find another way to make it work. Other than that, I don’t worry myself about what can’t be seen. I have enough to worry about getting the surfaces in the house to look neat.
5. Doing it all myself: I know when to ask for help when I need it, most of the time, and I am blessed to be able to do so. I don’t take it for granted how lucky I am to have a cleaning service that comes in once a week, and I shudder to think what this house would look like without them. I was using a laundry delivery service for a little while, until it no longer worked for me. We also use a weekly lawn and plant maintenance service. These are all huge timesavers, of course, although they are expensive, but every little bit of extra help goes a long way. See if you can afford a cleaning service once a month, for the deep cleaning, or a lawn service once every season for maintenance. All the in-between stuff I do myself, and it’s a struggle to just get those day-to-day things taken care of. I also feel fortunate that both our dog groomer and our car washing/detailing service come to our house to do the work, so they can do their thing while we are all comfortably at home. These are not much more expensive than going somewhere else to have it done, but they are huge timesavers!