Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The messy family reforms: Project One

The kitchen table. Note I did not say kitchen. Project One is just the table. I told you the projects would be small, and asked you not to laugh.

I am not sure I know anyone who doesn't complain about the kitchen table. It's always covered in stuff. Yesterday morning I hit the wall with it: there was no room to set breakfast plates down. I wish now that I'd taken a picture but some of the things on the table were: 6 or 7 books, 3 or 4 water glasses left from last night, 2 days' worth of mail, some crumpled-up napkins, a pair of nail clippers, a piece of sandpaper, some tupperware set on a rack to dry, numerous pens and pencils, the dog page-a-day calendar, a soil test kit, the salt and pepper shaker, an empty napkin holder, a half-roll of paper towels, and a lot of crumbs.

I'm just being honest here. And that doesn't include the stuff under the table (footwear related).

I wavered between crying and yelling at everyone. (Including myself because some of that stuff was mine. Not the nail clippers, I want you to know). The seminarian was particularly concerned about sandpaper on our nice wood table. Oh yeah.

So after breakfast (mostly eaten standing up) the kids and I worked on the table. We took everything off and cleaned it well. We put away everything that didn't belong - not just on the nearest horizontal surface because there aren't any - but away. (Well, mostly. There was a pile of mail and other papers on the hearth so...) Then we put back the essentials. I refilled the napkin holder and set it, along with the salt and pepper shaker and the doggie calendar on a small tray at one end. A bowl of ripening avocados at the other end. Fresh placements at each place. The my girl went out and cut some hydrangea blooms for a vase in the middle. It looked nice. So much nicer!

The kitchen table is the place we spend most of our time. We eat there, and do schoolwork, and work on our projects. In our small house, it's not a table, it's the table for working. All the other tables are either small side tables, or permanent resting places for things like desktop computers. So the kitchen table is it. It is nearly impossible to keep it clear.

So Project One is the kitchen table. For as long as it takes - 21 days, isn't that way "they" say? - we are going to build the habit of clearing off the table whenever we are finished with what we are doing at it. We're not going to wait for company to come; we're doing to do it every day. Couple of times a day. At least.

I won't wait till we've mastered the table to start on Project Two. It's not like it takes all day to keep the table clear. Well, it might, if we have a lot of days like yesterday. My girl made confections by melting chocolate chips and spreading them over marshmallows, chex cereal, graham crackers... My boy worked on a model plane. I did some homeschool planning and messing about in my binder. All at that table. It will be a challenge.

What small project could you start today?

What area of your house really irritates you?

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