Words about contentment inspired this series that celebrates ingenuity, creativity, and resourcefulness. Join me in the comments and share what you've done with what you have!
When a 195 square foot loft space is shared by three big boys in a little house, there are bound to be some lumps and bumps along the way as very different personalities and tidiness tendencies learn to make the most of common ground. It's not so unlike the adjustments one faces with college roommates, or spouses, or co-workers. These sorts of get-along tactics are important tools to aquire, as nearly everything in life requires a bit of give and take in order to find a place of harmony with fellow humans. In the scope of existance, we all need space to call our very own, to do with what we like, while at the same time being thoughtful of those around us. We've had many a discussion in our house about how, when it come to keeping our personal space, perfection isn't the goal, but respecting the other people whose space you share, is.
Along with the words and the coaching, we've found that practical solutions seem to go a long way toward keeping peace in the loft. Years ago, I read Julie Morganstern's book Organizing From The Inside Out, and it hit all the notes for me. In it, she explained that in order for an organized space to remain tidy, the tidy-keeping has to be easy. Which is to say, everything not only needs a place, but a place that is easily accessible for the person who will be putting it there. This doesn't just mean easy physical accessibility, but it has to be mentally accessible as well. When you're working with other people and their spaces, this requires a bit of sleuthing to gain an understanding of what easily accessible means to them.
If you've viewed the loft tour in our house, you'll recall that in lieu of dressers, our boys have apple crate 'drawers' that slide under their beds; four for clothes, one for boy treasures. Easy to use, easy to see. Should be no problem. But, somehow, one of our three has never failed to have a huge pile (huge is relative, here, as none of us have very many clothes!) of clothes heaped on the floor beside his bed, much to the consternation of his adjacent brother. After a recent clean-up which was clearly not his favorite thing to do, I asked him if there was something different we could do that would help him keep his side of the loft in a better sense of order. He replied with exclamations, "But Mom, you have a tidy mind! I don't have a tidy mind!" Hmm. Not wanting to press an exasperated boy, I let the conversation drop.
But, the situation didn't drop from my mind. I continued to mull it over and ponder what might be, to him, the 'easy' for keeping things put away. I realized that the clothes on his floor were mostly clean, and that it did matter to him that his clean and dirty clothes were not together. I also realized that it didn't seem to matter to him that his clean clothes weren't separated into categories (e.g. shirts, pants, etc), nor did it matter to him that they weren't folded. Rifling through a pile of clean laundry to find clothes to wear didn't bother him in the least, but folding clothes and putting them in their 'right' crates did.
A lightbulb went on.
A couple days later, I asked him what he would think about having a big bin to put all his clean clothes in, together, not folded or anything. Just pull them off the clothes line or from the dryer and dump them in. He lit up like I'd offered him $1000. His crates, we decided, would catch all his dirty laundry, no sorting required.
So, this wicker chest that's been with us for 20+ years found its way to the loft this week, to the spot at the end of his bed where, fingers-crossed, it'll be a much-used recepticle for the pile that's been on the floor.
Do what you can with what you have.