Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Paper Chase - RePost!

While we're talking about recharging yourself by decluttering, we should re-visit "The Paper Chase."


Where is the school room in your house? Are you happy with it? Does it work well for all of the things you and your children do? Does it tend to be messy? Can you find things when you want them?

If you are like us and most of our friends, homeschooling is messy. We had a grandmother who would stop by for visits and poke her head into our school . . .

"Oh my, what a busy room," she would say, "What a busy room!"

Busy, it was. When my sons were learning at home, I felt like I was holding back a wall of clutter that might flood the house and cover everything. Some nights, I dreamed that the paper and books grew until there was no room for us, and we escaped through a window and ran down the street. But the next morning, it was clear that escape was not possible. I would not get out of this so easily. I had to make peace with our paper habit if I was going to keep my sanity.

We picked up after ourselves, mind you. I was constantly picking up and putting away. But the mess grew a little more every time I turned my back on it. I used to say that paper was our house weed. It was an unruly thing that popped up in every crack, every bare spot, every place where there was light and moisture.

I had shelves. We used them. There was a desk for each person with drawers to keep their personal effects out of the general fray. I had labeled boxes. Our school room had threetrashcans. Never mind. The paper still piled up under the windows, on the desk tops, over the couch in the living room, at the kitchen table on the family room coffee table, by the beds, and on the floor where the cats liked to claw at it and chew on it. Even our animals were paper-crazed. They thought every piece of paper was material for a paper ball to chase.

My sons would make stacks of paper balls and then toss them, one at the time, for each cat. Down the hall, bumping on the steps, through the foyer, under the furniture, into baskets and shoes, under tables, the paper wads went. Anywhere and everywhere, the cats chased their paper -- tumbling down the stairs, sliding across the wood floors when they couldn't stop in time, even crashing into walls and doors. As I watched their antics one evening, I realized that this was what I was doing, too. I was chasing paper!

In this kingdom of paper, with a paper-glaze over my eyes, stacks of paper around me, and paper-lovers in every room of the house, I slowly worked my way toward a sort of order that kept a lid on the chaos. What I am saying is -- over time, with practice, with trial and error, we did eventually put our problems with paper behind us.

How did we do it? What worked? What didn't?

Tomorrow, I will be sharing our secrets to winning the paper chase.


Where does the paper in your house pile up?

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