Today, on a keeping in touch day at work, I got to do something I have been yearning…nay DESPERATE to do for a long, long time. I cleaned, tidied and organised the storage cupboard.
Here’s the thing, Art teachers such as myself are usually cast as flaky, untidy, tie-dye wearing, coffee loving weirdos who work in a mountain of unnamed work, empty mugs and unwashed paint palettes. However, for every rule there is an exception. In our art department, my boss, our lovely colleague Kate and myself are all neatness and organisation freaks. During a Health and Safety visit a few years ago, the inspector told us we had the tidiest Art department in the South West, and naturally we wear that like a badge of honour.
There’s just something lovely about knowing where stuff is. I can leave something in one place, come in the next day and know exactly where it is, and not in an ‘organised chaos’ kind of way but in a ‘it’s been meticulously placed there for a very good reason’ kind of way.
My house is not as tidy as it was before the girl descended on us with her bouncy chairs and 5 types of skin cream. But it’s a level of tidy that I can control and feel comfortable with because it’s organised. Her wipes, rash cream, nappies, nappy bags, muslins and change mat are all stored together because if a poonami happens, you can be sure as shit that I will not be stumbling around with crap on my hands, fumbling open a bag of nappies while she rolls her legs in a whole load of luminous yellow poop.
In her bedroom she has a trolley next to her bed with all of the changing paraphernalia stacked on it, I can see when we’re low on anything and I love restocking it. Hell, if shelf stacking paid a decent wage I’d be thrilled to do it full time for a living. There’s just something so satisfying and reassuring about refilling something and knowing you have plenty left. Unpacking the shopping is one of my most virtuous pleasures in life. If my poor husband starts to unpack he is hastily shunted out of the way so I can take control and work to my system. Bless him, he tries.
When we bought our current house, I busily set about planning how we could add built-in storage space, because I actually love storage more than life itself. Our new kitchen has a pull-out larder cupboard type thing, which is the best invention in the world ever. We had built-in wardrobes installed in our bedroom with shelves, hanging space and a chest of drawers. We are planning a bathroom remodel at the moment, and all I can think is ‘how can we add more storage space?’. I also have a Pinterest page just for clever storage solutions. Yes. I AM that sad.
The single most pleasurable thing about my small business (aside from helping poor babies soothe their gums with my beautiful teething creations…just a small plug, sorry not sorry) is that when an order comes in I get to unpack all the beads, sort them, organise them by colour or type and put them away in my little grey ombre storage trolley *sigh*.
I think the antithesis of my organisation addiction is the addiction of others to hoard things. I feel very sorry for them. Not just because they often live in such awful conditions but because something terrible has likely happened to them to make them feel like they have to hold on to every last little scrap of anything. I almost want to be the person that goes in and makes it all tidy again and I gain quite an immense pleasure from watching TV programmes of that ilk because I know that at the end of it, they almost always come out of it with a liveable space again, and that feels quite satisfying even if I haven’t done it myself.
I often wonder if my need to organise stuff is down to feeling a lack of control in other aspects of my life. I’m not a control freak, but some things that I can’t seem to change can get me down, and having total control over organisation allows me to gain back a sense of power.
So today, being back at work and knowing I’m back full time next week made me feel a little powerless because financially, like so many other families, we have no choice. So, in a small act of regaining control, tidying our scruffy cupboard was the best thing I could think of. And by gosh it worked. I had a sense of accomplishment, completion and felt good that I did something useful that would benefit others too.
I will return to work a little lighter in step next week and I’m really looking forward to working with my wonderful organisational comrades in arms once again.
This blog is dedicated to my wonderful art department colleagues, Claire and Kate, I don’t know what I’d do without your awesome support, sympathy and wicked-good organisational skills.