Sunday, September 4, 2011

Organizing the "School Year"

Just when I've been trying to hold on to summer and ignore the cooler nights and the bombardment of activities that fall brings, I remember the charter school will want me to start keeping track of what my kids are learning again. It's actually a small price for all the enriching things our family gets access too, but it can put a damper on my eternal summer lounging dreams.

I figured that getting organized for our "school year" will be helpful for me in getting in the swing of things. I really have trouble with the "school year" concept because learning seems to occur fairly naturally and year round when I don't push it, and a part of me just has an inherent resistance to outside forces that want me to do things at certain times "just because." But, rather than being ruffled over my inability to conform easily, and the silliness of it all, I'm focusing on the fact that external forces aside- this place is a mess, and a little organization could benefit us all.

So, I started with some book shelves that we keep a lot of "educational" things on. About midway through I began to question what on earth I had started.

First, the incredible quantity of dust hit me. Literally. In the face. So, now I have itchy eyes and am sneezing and amazed at what can hide on the back side of bookshelves. It's not like we don't dust either. I mean, I pay my kids to do it weekly, but this is the behind the scenes action, and it's not pretty. I am convinced it would not be this bad if there were pavement withing a quarter mile of my house, but who knows. It might be anyway. We're really not that great at housework.

Anyway, next, I was taken aback by the sheer volume of stuff. Where did all this stuff come from, and why do I have it? Some of it's good, and has just been hidden. It's like a surprise holiday with presents. Some of it consists of things we just never got around to doing and probably never will. Some is stuff that I can't imagine why I hung on to in the first place. I pulled it all off the shelves, sneezing and whining and making a huge and overwhelming mess. I was tempted at this point to just head out to the pool with my book and a glass of wine, but had a sneaking suspicion that this disaster would still be waiting for me when I returned. On rare occasions, one of my children will spontaneously clean something up, but this calamity was beyond their skill level.

So, I buckled down and got to work. I sat for what felt like days, but was probably hours, creating piles around me- to keep, to give away, to recycle, to throw out. The keeping stuff got further broken down- science, math, history, art. It all was shelved neatly, arranged by subject, then within that, arranged aesthetically by size and shape. I'm quite proud of my effort, and excited about all the fun things we have to choose from. We are blessed indeed.

The give away pile got further sorted as well- stuff that goes to friends and stuff that goes to the thrift store. So far, it's only made it to the garage, but I'll be glad to see it go for good. The mini mountains of trash and recycling have been hauled away.

There was also a decent sized pile at the end consisting of stuff I didn't quite know what to do with. For now, its sitting on the other side of the room so it doesn't ugly up the view of the pretty shelves I have carefully organized. I guess the job isn't completely finished, but I don't really have it in me to deal with that last bit today, and why not celebrate what I did accomplish?

I wonder how long this will last though? Maintenance is a trick unto itself. Do any of you well organized people have secrets about keeping things orderly? I am just not naturally inclined that way, but I really do appreciate the beauty of it.

For now, I think I've earned my poolside lounging. I'm even bringing a few books I found during my hard work with me.