How to Organise a House in Ten Easy Steps

We have carpet!!

Life has returned to something vaguely resembling normal (almost), thank God, because it’s Monday, and I have to work again this week and that always throws my organisational syatems up in the air. But my house looks (mostly) LOVELY, and it’s warm, even in this near-winter, and, yes, quiet too. I love it. I’m incredibly grateful, and yes, all the enormous stress was worth it.

Not only that, my house is CLEAN. And, with a few exceptions (there are still two piles of stuff left to sort out – we used this as an opportunity to do a major purge, and part of that was getting rid of some old and useless furniture that just happened to be sitting around gathering dust, and not necessarily putting back every single thing we owned, but going through it slowly and deciding whether or not it was actually still wanted), organised. Now “clean” and “organised” have been my unattainable goals for a long time now; things I strive for desperately, desperate to have one of those beautiful house-and-garden houses that my friends seem to have. And now I’m doing it! I’m living the DREAM! And there’s not even an Ikea in sight. I know. Crazy, right?

So today, my friends, for all of you who have ever, like me, wanted to live in a perfectly organised home, I’m gonna tell you how I did it. Here goes:

Carpet in my son's room. Isn't it lovely!

Carpet in my son’s room. Isn’t it lovely!

1. Save your money. This is possibly quite obvious, although yes, it’s really REALLY hard. We always put away a small amount of our income, and then we spend it on bills. It’s not quite the same. Eventually I used my tax return money to…

2. Go to America. You heard me. Although, granted, if you actually LIVE in America, you probably need to go somewhere else. But travel. Go stay with a friend you haven’t seen in years. Although…here’s the trick…make sure they’re great housekeepers. I’m serious! See, you can have friends (as I do) who are great housekeepers when you’re at home, but when you visit them you see them sitting drinking coffee at the kitchen table, or relaxing on their couch. When you actually go stay with people you get to see how they do life on a larger scale. And what I learned was this: they clean their houses every morning. Seriously! I KNOW! But you know what? It works! Because the house is already clean, it only takes a few minutes to run through and do it, and then it’s not dirty for the next day when they clean it. Cool, eh? I’ve been trying this. Sometimes I’ve even been succeeding.

3. Kill off your parents. Oh OKAY, I’m not really serious. Winning the lotto will also do it. And NO, before you start wondering, I DID NOT kill my dad. He just up and died, all by himself, heartless thing. BUT, he did leave me all his money (I’m an only child. If you’re not, and you take the title of step number 3 literally you may also need to bump off your siblings. Although if you took me literally you’ve probably not got any kind of sense of humour and it’s not a how-to-clean-your-house blog you need, it’s serious therapy). But Dad died, we inherited more money than we needed to just pay the electricity bill and buy our kids a Happy Meal to celebrate, so we bought carpet. See? Onya Dad. We’d probably still be dreaming about it if it wasn’t for you.

4. Put down carpet. Or, if you’ve already got carpet, put down new carpet. Carpet is great! I haven’t lived in a carpeted house for nearly fifteen years, and I’ve never ever lived in a house with new carpet, so I pretty much think I’m in Heaven right now. Carpeted Heaven. But before we put down the carpet we first needed to…

Lounge room carpet, but the lighting isn't that great. Just ignore the walls.

Lounge room carpet, but the lighting isn’t that great. Just ignore the walls.

5. Get rid of everything in your house. Yes, and I mean EVERYTHING. Putting down carpet is like moving…like moving house and staying in the same spot. It’s win, kinda. My friend Annie who has moved a LOT of times has the most organised house, and she tells me it’s because every time you move house you chuck out the random stuff you accumulate and don’t think about. Moving house makes you ruthless. It made me think “I wish we could move”, even though I like our house, I like where we live, and didn’t want to.  But tada! Carpet is moving-wish granted. And you can’t fudge it with carpet like you do with general cleaning…you know, just kind of pack up around the stuff you’d rather not deal with. You just can’t carpet over old furniture or kids’ puzzles with pieces missing. You either have to chuck them out or store them. And when you’re storing them you think “WHY am I storing this?” and then you chuck it. Or you leave it on the floor to be carpeted over so the new owners can discover it in twenty years’ time…but that’s just weird.

6. Bring back inside only the stuff you need or desperately want to keep. Yes! Leave out all the kids’ kindergarten craft (unless they’re still in kindergarten and they love them). Leave out the ugly bookshelf with the books the kids no longer read. Leave out the mangy wardrobe with the stuff piled on top. Leave out the stuff. Even better, make sure (as we did) that you store everything in SOMEBODY ELSE’S SPACE so you can’t simply leave it in the garage for the next twenty years. Hire a shipping container. Borrow your neighbour’s garage. Just. Don’t. Forget. To. Sort. It.

7. Turn around. Look how nice your house is without all that extra stuff! Roll on the new carpet. Offer up a silent prayer of thanks. Think about your dead parent, and how much they would have loved to see it. Yell at the kids to get their food off the precious new flooring. Roll around some more. Do a cartwheel. Don’t tell anyone, because you’re nearly 40 and you’re really bad at doing cartwheels.

8. Go to America. Okay, that bit doesn’t have much at all to do with keeping your house clean, but gosh it’s a cool place. And you get to hug your friends who taught you how to clean up every morning, but it sure is fun. And, face it, America is awesome. Almost as awesome as carpet.

My 7yo watching TV in our lounge room. See? This is the pile of stuff we still need to sort out. It happens. We'll get there.

My 7yo watching TV in our lounge room. See? This is the pile of stuff we still need to sort out. It happens. We’ll get there.

How about you? Any awesome tips on how to keep a house organized…especially after the novelty of new carpet wears off? I know. It’ll happen eventually. Give me your best tips now, so I can stay organised when it does!

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blog post? What blog post?

Arrrrgghh…

There’s carpet going down! My study is empty. My lounge room and bedroom are so full I can’t even get into them.

I’m so tired I can’t even remember basic words like…like…oh you know what I mean.

See ya Monday folks. In the mean time, go be nice to someone who looks stressed and grumpy. If they ask why, tell them you’re doing it for your Tasmanian friend!

“That”: or Why Change is The Most Important Thing of All

People often say that change is hard, and it’s true. The things is though, change starts in your mind. The thing is, once you’ve walked something out in your mind it’s easy to do in your body. Once you start thinking something it naturally starts slipping out of your mouth. And the more you talk about a thing, particularly to other people, the more natural it sounds, and the easier it is to then go and do.

This works for both good and bad. I’ve seen people slip, through the babiest of baby steps, into life on the streets, hear stories of people slipping into drugs, into prostitution, into obesity, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, bad relationships, bad choices. It’s like you choose a path, and the only choice you get after that is how far down it you want to go. That’s a scary thought.

Now don’t get me wrong, staying on that path is never a given. I’m a born-again bible-bashing Jesus-loving proof that lives can change – but that kind of change takes a lot, sometimes nothing short of a miracle. Me, I was on a path once, and not a very nice one. Maybe we all have. Maybe we can all point to the time, the memory, and think “oh yeah. That”. That relationship. That decision. That job. That place. That. I tend not to think about it much, mostly because there’s no time to and no need to, and That is so far removed from my current reality that I don’t have to, for which I am deeply and eternally grateful. It’s come up a lot recently though, and the smack of it, of those memories, against the direction I’m walking stings.

I’m on a new path now, and those baby steps we all take every day, of choosing to buy a better microwave or deciding to throw out the odd socks in the laundry basket, those baby steps have become circular-legged sprinting strides for me, or so it feels. I don’t know, many people might look at them and say “oh hon, they’re just baby steps”. I’ve had a professional photo taken (see? All that stress about my hair going fluffy, and…four or five different products later, bingo!), started a Facebook “author page” (oh HECK, I’m calling myself a WHAT??), and am about to send my first novel off to an enormous writing competition (the ACFW Genesis competition, for anyone who’s wondering) and prepare myself to go meet agents and editors and sell-sell-sell myself to them in six months.

Megan Sayer: professional woman without fluffy hair.

Deep breath, Megan.

People do these things all the time.

Yesterday a man from the carpet shop came through my house to measure up for new carpets. Well, for carpets. We don’t have any. Today I’m going to buy paint for the walls, and fix the holes in the plaster that have been there for years. My husband is encouraging me to go to the computer shop in town and look at new laptops tomorrow.

People do these things all the time. Deep breath, Megan. It’s okay.

Once and for all, it’s time for me to let go of That. I’m not That person any more, and I haven’t been for a very long time. I don’t need to let That define me. I need to let it go once and for all, to cut it loose, before I find myself pulled out of new-carpet-author-photo-novel-writing land and plonked right again in the middle of That. Not physically, but in the limitations of my mind.

Because that’s exactly what happens. That’s why today That has to go. And if you see me crying in the carpet shop today then you’ll know why. Be nice, okay? Change is harder than it looks.