Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Tidy Fairy

I watched the Tidy Fairy come visit my kitchen last evening, and it was an inspiring sight, so I thought I'd share.  Maybe your untidy spaces could use some of the motivation that I received by being in Her Highness' presence for a few moments.

First of all, you must know that there is a Mess Fairy.  Of course you know this--things just tend to get messy over time, especially if children or hobbies are involved.  We have always blamed this on the Mess Fairy.  Many a time I have wished for the Tidy Fairy to come along (preferably overnight) and straighten things up.  Well... I just didn't know about the Tidy Fairy's habits.

Sweetie was cooking dinner last night.  One of those Rachel-Ray-30-minutes-or-less gourmet concoctions of hers, so she was efficiently zipping around the kitchen.  She went to reach for a baking sheet, opened the cupboard and said, "Oh my!  What happened here?"  Well, you know how it is when multiple people use a kitchen--things tend to get put away a bit willy-nilly.  And over time, that develops into an untidy cupboard.  I would have seen the mess and told myself, "I've got to set aside some time to get that straightened up."  It would have gone on my endless mental list of tidying tasks.  End of story.  But NO.  Here's where the wings and wand appeared: she bent over--with tofu still frying on the stove, mind you--and straightened up that cupboard in less than 60 seconds.  
Really.  60 seconds is all it took to put the muffin pans over there, place the strainers on the top shelf, banish the bundt pan to the back row, etc.

I never think that way.  It takes me 60 seconds to look at a "mess", do some deep breathing, chastise myself for being messy in the first place, and add that mess to my mental housecleaning burden.  I just don't think of, "Hey, let's just zip in there and tidy a bit."  (Of course, my ADD nature usually succumbs to mission-creep, and I am elbow deep in a major-strip-down-kitchen-overhaul when the smoke detector screams to let me know the tofu for dinner is burning on the stove.)

So I got to thinking about some areas the Mess Fairy has visited, and how I, being a person who tends to think in black-or-white, all-or-nothing terms, have avoided the small steps (baby steps, really) that could keep this mess under control.  Or at least put the muffin pans over there, metaphorically speaking.
The kitchen island: a mess that has been stubbornly persistent and slowly growing in this location.
And on the floor below in the corner: its sister mess.  The last two times the pile on the counter got too big (or company was coming over), I shoveled it into this bin on the floor, saying, "I need to get organized."  Which translates roughly to, "I'll need most of an afternoon to take care of this mess."  So there it sits, waiting for an empty afternoon.

Some optimism, please

Let's not be pessimistic.  There are areas of my life where I am the Tidy Fairy.  I keep on top of my messes in certain areas.  I have to remember to celebrate these.  And, in my uber-analytic way, look for patterns in the things that are working, so I can do more of that.

1.  I am the Laundry Fairy.  At my house, laundry is a source of pride for me.  It is one of those neverending chores that I think I do well at.  And enjoy.

2.  My bathroom sink (is cleaner than Sweetie's on most days). 
The between-cleanings tidying is taken care of thusly: when I am fixing my hair with appliances (about every other day), I end up with hair in the sink (horrors!)  When I am done, I use two squares of toilet paper to mop this hair out of the sink and go on to use the same tissue to wipe around the remaining sink and faucet surfaces.  See??  That tiny extra step of going beyond the task at hand of removing stray hairs and wiping a nearly-clean surface keeps it from getting lint, or dust, or glop.  Yes, the bathroom sink still needs regular cleaning, but it is more Tidy on a daily basis because the Tidy Fairy was involved on a small scale (baby steps).

3.  The bed gets made by one or two Tidy Fairies pretty much every day.
To me, this is the difference between just pulling the covers up, and the small extra step of adjusting the mattress pad, straightening the pillow cases, re-tucking the sheets, removing stray items from the bedside table, and dusting the table top with the pajamas that are on their way to the laundry hamper.

Gotta remember: it's the little things that build up over time to create "mess".  But it's also the little things I can do every day to keep that mess at bay.  Way to go, Tidy Fairy!

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