SQUEAKING ALONG

Your home is a complex machine that requires regular oiling for optimum performance.

As a homemaker, I’ve squeaked along for over 40 years.

Like a Farmers Insurance agent, “I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.”

Allow me to share a bit of my knowledge.

This piece is practical, not fanciful or filled with sentiment. I will not advise you to hug your kids every day and tell your husband every morning you love him. I assume you do those things.

Suggestion 1

When you buy totes for storage, buy transparent ones. You can tell at a glance what is inside those totes.

Yes, you can label nontransparent totes and cardboard boxes. At this moment, millions of such mystery containers sit on closet shelves and garage floors with their labels turned stubbornly toward the wall.

Suggestion 2

Buy gasoline and toilet paper before you need them. You cannot go without these essentials.

Suggestion 3

Decide early in the day what your dinner plans are. Deciding early prevents last-minute panic and gives you time to go to the store or thaw frozen foods.

Don’t subject yourself and your family to uninterrupted nights of fast-food dinners or Stouffers’ frozen ziti.

Suggestion 4

When you and the family go out to eat, decide before you leave the house where you will go. Don’t drive three miles south and realize you crave cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, which requires driving north.

Suggestion 5

Don’t lie to yourself. If you have forever put off doing a task, admit you will not do it.

Then either resolve to live with the grimy windows and dusty bookshelves OR hire someone to do the job.

Choose the second option only if you can afford it. Don’t use the kids’ school lunch money to pay a gutter cleaner.

Suggestion 6

Clean up your own messes but do not presume to clean up messes left by other adults.

A few months ago, I tidied up Dan’s workspace around his computer. I threw away out-of-date tool catalogs, old maps from the late 1990s, and junk mail advertising special offers whose end dates had come and gone.

Dan had wanted to keep these things for reasons he stated but I can’t now remember.

One woman’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Suggestion 7

Always carry cash. Coins and bills are convenient when paying for small purchases such as a cup of frozen custard at Ritter’s or a 50-cent library fine.

Several years ago, my daughter (name withheld) paid for everything with her debit card. She then stuffed dozens of receipts into her wallet. Her wallet no longer zipped and became the size and shape of a boxing glove. Balancing her checkbook was a nightmare.

Carry twenty dollars, more or less.

Suggestion 8

Give yourself permission not to finish everything you start. If at one time you wanted to knit and now have a bathtub-size container filled with yarn, needles and patterns you will never use, get rid of them.

You’re too smart to hang on to useless things.

Suggestion 9

Open your mail while standing beside a trash can or recycling bin. That is where most of the pieces will go, so save yourself some steps.

Suggestion 10

This suggestion is based upon something my wise father-in-law said: Some decisions need to be made only once.

Here are four of my once-and-forever decisions:

  • I will go to church every week.
  • I and everyone else in my vehicle will wear a seatbelt.
  • I will not dogear a page in a book.
  • I will not give unsolicited advice.

Oops.

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8 thoughts on “SQUEAKING ALONG”

  1. I need to heed #3, but deciding at the last minute makes me so appreciative of my microwave. I’m good at thawing meat quickly!

    Reading #8 reminds me that I either need to finish the cross-stitch project I started 9 years ago or throw it out. If I could see the tiny squares and find my place, finishing it would be a cinch!

    Finally, #6 reminds me of a phrase I heard years ago. It shouldn’t be true, but it occasionally is. “No good deed goes unpunished.” Sometimes I hit my head against that one!!!

    Thanks for the lovely suggestions! You always make me smile!

  2. I can add if stuff in a box is still in a box untouched, after a year, then you can or should toss it. Why do we keep stuff? Maybe it’s guilt or maybe we can’t let go because to let go means letting go and that pain is far too hard to bear.

    1. Sometimes the job of going through a box of stuff is either too daunting or too emotionally charged. What do people do, for instance, with mementos from the past- old cards, children’s drawings, etc. Should we just throw the box out without going through the contents? I have similiar problems with junk drawers; I want to organize and get rid of things but the job is overwhelming.

      1. Surely the toughest area when it comes to storing vs tossing.

        I kept two under-the-bed storage boxes filled with mementos of my two kids’ childhoods to give to them when they were adults. When they both were in their 20’s, I finally tackled the job of organizing, scrapbooking, and otherwise “dealing with” the contents of those boxes. The task took me almost a full week. My husband was out of town so I chose that time to tackle this task.

        I created and then organized stacks and stacks of items throughout my kitchen, dining room, family room, etc. I put into scrapbooks what I could and bought attractive storage boxes for things like trophies and t-shirts that couldn’t be scrapbooked. It was gut-wrenching.

        Here is the kicker. When I presented these “treasures” to my kids, their responses were along the line of, “What am I supposed to do with all this stuff, Mom?”

        But, that had been a goal of mine, and it felt good to accomplish it.

        As for other momentos like cards from grandparents, old caps my dad wore, and crocheted items my mom made, I carefully store these things in drawers and resist opening those drawers unless I have a full day to spend crying my eyes out.

        As for junk drawers, I toss with abandon. I’ve thrown away good ink pens because I couldn’t see the need of having 60 of them. I don’t keep more than one melon baller, cheese shredder, manual can opener, and rubbery, meshy thing that helps me open tight jar lids. Tossing is cathartic for me.

        The key, of course, is not to let this stuff accumulate, but most of us missed that deadline.

        This is important! Don’t get rid of anything you want to keep. Organize those things inside dresser drawers or clear plastic totes and store them neatly. You don’t have to go about this the way I do. If excess doesn’t bother you the way it bothers me, keep it all. AND DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT!

        Readers are welcome to chime in with suggestions.

    2. We could keep psychologists busy for days answering the question, “Why do we keep this stuff?” Stuff in boxes you haven’t looked at or needed for a year probably can be safely tossed. Being attached to sentimental items is normal. Being attached to every empty Cool Whip container is not.

      Thanks, Sherry, And, by the way, if you still have the old sewing machine I gave you and you no longer need it, you will not hurt my feelings if you get rid of it. 🙂

  3. 🙂 Excellent post, funny and thoughtful, and we can all use some unsolicited advice every once in a while! It’s what we do with it that counts. Clutter, you are my eternal nemesis….someday I will conquer you…then again, maybe not! 😉 God Bless!

    1. Thank you for reading and responding! Clutter is the enemy of all of us. I remember reading a book years ago titled “Clutter’s Last Stand” by Don Aslett. I remember it had good advice, but, as you said, it’s what we do with advice that counts!

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