In the interest of starting my year off on a truly new leaf, I made a commitment to be more organized when it comes to the paper that enters my home. You know - the receipts, papers from the kids’ schools, sports registrations, coupons and sales ads, magazines and catalogs, not to mention the clipped articles and recipes and financial paperwork.
I’m a folder/boxer type of girl, meaning there’s some semblance of order to my paper chaos. Whenever I have a bunch of papers and bills and flyers, it’s sorted into labeled folders which are then piled until they threaten an avalanche. Then they’re put in a file box. Then the same labels are put on a new bunch of folders, and the process repeats itself. It creates clutter and also lends itself to a mad scramble to find the appropriate folders to do our taxes at 11:30 p.m. on April 15th.
Not this time. Beginning New Year’s Eve, I brought all the boxes, fifteen in all, into the TV room along with a long plastic banquet table for sorting. That’s right. One-Five Boxes of paper. Rental records and mortgages for a house we haven’t owned in 10 years. Tax forms from my first paid job in high school. Auto accidents and insurance appeals and roommate disputes over unpaid bills. Packing lists from vacations taken, kept to make packing for the next trip easier. The demise of my last job and the issues that led to my resignation, and the emails from the Mean Moms who ran our PTO last year and put me through Hell. Registration forms for summer camps kept as references for “next year”.
Why did I keep so much? Lots of reasons. Hubby was audited before we were married, so much of the financial records have been kept longer than needed out of fear. But honestly, do I need a car insurance policy from 2001? The pile of non-financial stuff made me take a long look in the mirror. To everyone outside my home, I’m known as the Organized Mom, the one who always knew when the games were and the registration deadlines and what books the kids should have read over the summer, because I had it printed out in front of me. But I’ve learned, mostly over the last two years since the Baby was born, there’s no thanks in that - it just makes other people lazy. Why should they remember the deadline for ordering a new uniform when they have me? The straw was when another mom not-so-jokingly scolded me for not reminding her about a particular school deadline. That’s not who I want to be, or the type of friends I need. My friends should be my friends because they like me. The ones who are just friends because of what I can do for them can go out with the shredded paper; I don’t have the time or get paid to be their own personal secretary. So I guess I’m decluttering and simplifying my life in more ways than one.
As I went through everything piece by piece, what could be recycled was. What contained personal information was put into, you guessed it, the now empty boxes, and put aside for shredding. Our town has fundraisers every year where you pay to have a huge truck shred your stuff on the spot. But quickly approaching six boxes meant I was going to have to shell out $$$ to get rid of this stuff, and find a place for it until the next event.
Then Hubby did me the greatest favor of all. Thrilled that I was finally attacking the boxes that were overtaking our home, he brought home the commercial shredder from his office. This thing is the size of an apartment-sized refrigerator (or for those of you who’ve been to Walt Disney World, the size of the frigs in the Moderate resorts). He also went to the hardware store and bought three five-packs of large paper bags, the kind you put your leaves in. And the party began.
I sat Saturday and yesterday going through everything while watching whatever Bravo and Lifetime could throw my way, and filled…NINE large bags with shredded materials. Hubby even joked about it, answering the phone all weekend with “Good morning, you’ve reached the offices of Enron.”
The demons have been exorcised. The past is shredded. I am down to 1 ½ boxes of recipes, 1 box per kid of school paperwork, handmade Mother’s Day cards, and newspaper clippings of honor rolls and team recaps, and 1 box of miscellaneous “stuff” – genealogy notes, addresses to update my address book with. Whatever else I uncover in these boxes, my little home shredder can handle.
I can breathe again. And get to work on folding the eight baskets of laundry that haven’t been touched while I’ve been cleaning out the files. Did I mention what my second New Year’s commitment is?