It’s like magic.
You spend an hour or more, clearing off the table, putting stuff away. You get out a pretty tablecloth or place mats. Maybe you add a bowl of flowers, or candles for soft lighting during your next meal.
You leave the room, thinking how nice it is to have the table cleared off, finally. This time it’s going to stay that way!
Then, somehow, when you go back, there is a small pile of paper on the table, right next to the flowers. It’s the mail. Some of it is for you, some for other family members, and some are for that person who has never lived here but gets mail anyway- Occupant.
Okay. Not bad.
Next time you see the table, it has part of a craft project, some flyers that need to go into recycling, and a dog toy that needs mending. As well, there is a birthday card you meant to mail last week, and now it’s going to be late. More random papers, and a shirt missing a button.
Finally, you find several piles of paper, insurance reminders, tax information, printed out recipes, and several colouring pages to help you keep the stress away. You really need the last papers, as you are feeling very stressed.
Why does this clutter happen?
How can you find a way to keep the table clear?
First, most horizontal surfaces turn into collecting areas because we don’t have homes for things that we use all the time.
Second, we have many activities that require a flat surface. I can’t piece a puzzle on my lap, and I can’t use the floor, although I’m sure Mr. Puppy would love that.
My family enjoys game evenings, we laugh, share snacks, and move various tiny pieces around a board, trying to win, or at least, keep others from doing so.
I read, blog, drink tea, mend dog toys, sew buttons back on clothing, and sort the huge stacks of paper that seems to flood in each day.
We eat there, too.
You can start the clearing process by looking at what you and your family do on that table. List every activity, including the ones your kids do. How many of them are there?
You could get another table, and place it in another room. Many people don’t have large homes, so extra tables may not fit.
Parents often want their kids to be nearby while they work on homework, or crafts, so they can be there to help, and so they can watch as they get supper ready. The table needs to be near the kitchen.
Perhaps a sideboard near the table that can be used for storage.
Keep craft stuff, or projects you work on regularly in there.
Paper still needs to have a decision made as it comes in the door, as it piles up quickly.
Most paper, about 80% of it doesn’t need to be in your house at all.
The rest should be sorted into categories, such as insurance documents, tax information, and so on. Invitations should be entered onto a family calendar, or on your cell phone as soon as you decide what you want to do.
Flyers, catalogues, a random paper that comes in, needs to be quickly shuffled out to the recycle. Better yet, have your name removed from catalogue mailing lists.
In another blog, I talked about setting up homework stations. This is so important to keep kids and you on track. Make sure you always know about field trips, important school events, and never allow uneaten lunches to develop into alternate life forms, by taking everything out of the back packs each evening.
Repack them with most of the stuff they will need the next day, except the lunches.
Now all you have to do is light the candles, and enjoy a clutter-free table with your family!
Let me know how we could help you with your next project.