One Job and One Gift to Yourself (and some rules)

We are decluttering, refreshing, and cleaning our houses as we start the new year. Here are the rules:

1. It is your house. You are in charge. You choose how to apply (or ignore) what we talk about here. There is no test at the end.
2. I agree to share what works for me and others I have worked with in the past. I agree to be transparent with you.
3. You agree that I am not:

  • a guru — I cannot and will not tell you how to run your life. I am not omniscient. Somebody Else has that job.
  • perfect. This one is the most important thing you just must get. The not getting it is what bothers me the most about blogging. You see, if I write here about how I have a laundry routine that works well or post a photo of my orderly kitchen cabinet contents, you, the reader, have this natural but erroneous tendency to leap to a bunch of conclusions, the kind that turn me into some sort of Uberhuman whose feet don’t stink and whose bed has never been unmade a day in her life. That would be fine if it was true, but it is not. In fact, I am a rather lazy person by nature and the very reason I spend time thinking and writing about home management is because I have spent most of my life trying, frankly, to make things easier for myself. Most of the good practices I recommend are mine because I have lived the opposite way and did not enjoy myself. And, further, there are times when that lazy girl who lives inside me refuses to follow my own advice and the consequences get paid in this house just like they do in any other.
Here is the job for today:
Clean out the freezer attached to your refrigerator. Toss out all the baked items that are more than a month or two old. Into the trash with the mystery leftovers (or thaw and eat for lunch TODAY). Shock your kids and give them the last popsicles in the box for an impromptu snack.
Wipe up smears and gunkiness with a very hot dishcloth.
Identify your assets — if you are an overachiever you can make a quick written inventory (or if you aren’t just make a mental one) of the kinds of meat you have in there and how many packages of green beans, corn, and, oh, is that a bag of pearl onions you meant to use in that new Thanksgiving side dish? Why not make that this week and use it up? Identify your deficits — are you low on something your family really likes?
How to organize what stays? Freezer cavities have different shapes. If yours is on top of the fridge, you might like to use some shoe boxes (cardboard or plastic) to hold categories of foods — veggies in one, ground meat in another, and so on. For the last few years, we have had a fridge with a bottom freezer, and I find it hard to organize. I just saw an idea the other day for using magazine holders (the kind that sit on shelves) to stand upright in the deep space. I don’t have any of those, but I have some old tall oval Tupperware Modular Mates meant for pantry storage that I think I will try. Cereal boxes would be another idea.
While you do this job, you will naturally work fast because you don’t want the food to thaw! Working fast is a good thing when decluttering — you don’t want to get bogged down with decision making. Don’t overthink. Make it a game to see how quickly you can set things to rights in this one small space. Once you’ve finished, take a good long look at the results. Isn’t it satisfying to see everything all happy and tidy?
A gift to yourself — the “h” word:
Now that your freezer is organized, you want to keep it that way as well as you can for as long as you can. (Of course, you will need to do this job again eventually — we live in a world where things and systems break down.) Make a new habit to put things away in the places you have assigned to them. Train your children, too! Every time you do that, you give an investment gift to yourself for the future. The gift is time. It is order. It is peaceful living. 
Leave a comment below to tell the rest of us what’s happening at your place today. 
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  1. Anonymous
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the spurring on to do a dreaded job. Not sure why the freezer is such a dreaded job. But there it is.

  2. Posted January 4, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I basically did this one on Monday evening except for the wiping it out part. I need to do that. I’ll do my Christmas undecorating today and will be on track with the “homework”.

  3. Posted January 4, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Well, the house is now officially “un-decorated.” You know my refrigerator freezer ALWAYS needs cleaning out – I’m putting it on my “to do” list for today!! Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. A
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure that if I had a freezer of my own that I’d be currently busy doing mine, but I have to say that I am enjoying ours. It’s awesome mom! Thanks!

  5. Posted January 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Anonymous, I don’t know why the freezer is a dreaded job, either, but I tend to feel the same way. One thing I don’t like it trying to wipe up with a hot enough cloth and still stay ahead of the the moisture freezing before I can get all cleaned. Another is admitting that I wasted food if I have to throw something out. 🙁 It DOES feel good to get it done, however, so it is usually the first decluttering job I do when I am going through the house.

  6. Posted January 5, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Hope to do this one tomorrow. It is actually pretty empty right now, so a good time to spruce it up! Thanks for the motivation.

  • Your comment is the best part of this blog! Share what’s on your mind here.

  • In My Kitchen, In My Life is a place where women (and the odd male) can be encouraged, nudged, and occasionally kicked in the pants toward living their lives on a higher plane. Oh, and readers get plenty of chances to laugh at the author's foibles, which is always worth a click.

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