It all started when the Middle of the Darling Daughters and I were sitting companionably watching morning television the other day - our attention grabbed by an expert on bringing order to chaos. I was particularly fascinated
by her suggestion that I pack all the sheets, duvet cover, pillow cases etc for each bed into a single pillow case, forming what she described as a “pillow parcel.” I immediately determined to try this just as soon as my laundry escaped from
the tumble drier.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters saw my obvious interest in pillow parcels as a way into a conversation she was longing to have with
me - about the myriad ways I seem to make life for myself far, far harder than it needs to be, given a few obvious and simple improvements to the way I organise my cupboards.
For example - why is my “Pots and Pans cupboard” (to give it an appropriate name) full to cramming with saucepans that are too heavy for me to lift? My explanation - that I need larger pots and pans for when visitors arrive - doesn’t
cut it with my daughter who says, quite correctly, that I can find another place for them, out of sight and out of mind till needed. I have to concede that this suggestion would prevent three saucepans, four lids, two baking trays, and a casserole dish toppling
out of the cupboard and onto the floor every time I try to retrieve the small milk saucepan to heat up my breakfast milk. “Are you okay?!” Mr B yells from the inner depths of the living room every time he hears the crash.
Then there is the fact that I keep the broom and the floor mop in the boiler cupboard - which is almost inaccessible on account of passage being blocked by the small step-ladder,
a kitchen stool and a bowl full of Vital Equipment required by Mr B’s carers. Why? Just, why? my daughter asks. There is more of the same, but I’m sure you get the message…
After she had left for home, and to console myself in her absence, I started putting her suggestions into action, enlisting the help of the Lovely Kay who came to keep Mr B company for a couple of hours while I took myself off for
a Bit of a Break. Kay loves a challenge - among many other achievements over the lunchtime period she managed to rid me of my ancient Steaming Monster of an ironing board by putting it outside with a “free to a good home” notice affixed. It was
gone within the hour, presumably to a “good home” but neither of us felt the need to ask for references. Clearing space in the cupboard where the ironing board previously lived made space for the District Nurses’ large cardboard box of dressings,
which in turn released room in the cupboard under the stairs … and so on and so on….
The one major problem with this kind of reorganisation is the
sheer chaos created before order is restored. It isn’t possible to repurpose a cupboard without completely clearing it of its original contents. It isn’t possible to find a new home for the shredder without first shredding all the dozens of documents
awaiting its attention - which in turn leads to the kitchen floor being covered in tiny scraps of shredded paper. It’s rather like that glittery birthday / wedding confetti which well-wishers enjoy enclosing in greetings cards and which keep turning
up months later - only less, well, celebratory. I will be sweeping up shredded paper up for days…
Still, I am doing pretty well (though I say so myself
as shouldn’t, as my dear mum would doubtless chide me.) I turn my attention, as a change of emphasis, to another of the suggestions from the expert on morning TV - that of labelling. She illustrated the value of labelling by showing us the boxes in which
her children’s toys are stored. There was a whole box labelled “Nerf guns” for example. I can’t help but think that my labels will be much more boring….
Several happy hours later when I have labelled everything in sight, I send the Middle of the Darling Daughters a photo of my labelled baskets and boxes. “I am SO proud!” comes her response.
Mr B isn’t so sure about my Labelling Mania. I think he is afraid I might start sticking labels on him.
Now there’s an interesting thought…