We live in a cottage (not in a wood, unfortunately). It’s quaint. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Apart from a suffusion of yellow, it’s fairly featureless. However, it meets our needs (close to amenities and affordable), and it’s home. For now.
When we moved here, we were in the middle of an economic crisis. Our kids were in school all day. We spent all day in an office. All we needed a house for was a place to cook meals once in a while, and a place to sleep.
Then things changed.
“School” became the dining room table. “The Office” became our bedroom. Our bedroom moved into the en suite bathroom space, and our lives became compressed. As our business has grown, we’ve taken on staff, as one does. First we had a flexible and understanding lady two days a week. Then three. Finally, five. Then another lady – also flexible and understanding. Also two days a week, then three … Pretty soon she’ll be full time, too. I work with freelancers, who come in to the “office” from time to time to work – often with home schooled kids in tow. Friends come over for play dates with my children. And we still need a PFY (pimply-faced youth, aka tech assistant) for Papa Bear!
In other words, our cottage’s ability to meet our space requirements is being tried. Sorely.
A side effect of this is that we occasionally devolve into chaos. In theory, a small space is easier to maintain, but in practice, sometimes there just isn’t a place to put stuff! We’ve debated various options (moving, storage, rearranging), and finally settled on a combination of a space rearrangement, and a brutal clean up. Then we spent about a month psyching ourselves up for the task at hand. For some reason, yesterday, Papa Bear and I both woke up raring to go. There was nothing for it but to get stuck in. We gave our staff the day off, loaded the station wagon to the gills with junk, and moved things around. We raised a lot of dust, and we all still feel as if we’re encased in a light coat of cement. Not to mention the hayfever everyone is battling. But that’ll be over soon, and for now we seem to have a working solution. We have also managed to achieve a modicum of privacy (did I mention that until yesterday the office was in our bedroom – and we have no interior doors?).
So, to the title. It seems that I manage to instill and maintain order relatively well in my space. I have a sense of peace as things find and stay in (or return to) their places easily and regularly. Timetables are established and maintained. Dishes are done – all the time. I feel good about myself as domestic diva, and happy to entertain stragglers.
Then I get busy. I finally realise that I need to actually work for a living. I get involved in clients and meetings and deadlines and late nights and early mornings. Before I know it, it’s been a week since the girls received focused education. The dishes are done on an “as needed” basis, and meals consist of frying whatever happens to be closest to the door of the fridge. Papers pile up, toys accumulate in flotsam eddies around the driftwood of disorganised furniture, and it’s hard to believe we haven’t just been the victims of a robbery. (Actually, I’m sure this acts as a deterrent to would-be thieves. They think we’ve already been hit!).
At the back of my mind is a persistent belief that there is some kind of balance to be found here. I am sure that it must be possible to achieve a reasonable degree of personal organisation AND a reasonable degree of business organisation at the same time. Surely I can do half as much of each as I ever do of just the one or the other, on an ongoing basis, and manage to maintain an orderly home and an efficient business, with happy, educated, adjusted kids? Is there anyone out there who is doing this successfully? Or do we all do what I do, swinging from one extreme to the other, with only intermittent applications of peace in isolated areas of our lives?
I’d love to know. But in the mean time, I am putting off the billing so that I can tackle this severely overdue pile of filing. Wish me luck!