This post is dedicated to my dear friend Gentle, who inspires me to strive for excellence as a wife and mother. A few months ago, when Allyson and I went over for a play date with her son Liam, Gentle happened to show me their master bathroom.
I commented at how clean her vanity was, and she gestured to the hanging shoe organizer on the back of the bathroom door. She had all of her bathroom supplies neatly tucked into the pockets, which were labeled with little typed cards. There was a place for everything, and everything was in its place!
Gentle confessed that her bathroom counter used to be a jumbled mess, and she just couldn't seem to keep it neat. But ever since she'd hung the shoe organizer, she had never backslid into her old haphazard ways. "You should get one, too!" she suggested.
"Maybe I'll do it," I said halfheartedly.
I was skeptical. For one thing, I secretly doubted that Gentle could EVER have been messy, let alone as messy as me. Her entire house is always impeccably clean even though she's busy chasing after a toddler all day (and now a new baby, too).
Secondly, I just couldn't imagine letting go of my slovenly habits. On the whole, I try to keep our house presentable, and there are certain things that I won't tolerate, like pee on or around the toilet. (Keeping up with the pee has been a daily chore ever since Ethan started standing up to pee. Before I married Bill, I let Ethan believe that everyone peed sitting down, but when Bill joined the household, he said it was just WRONG to make a 5-year-old sit down to pee. Now, I think he regrets saying anything.)
Anyway, I try to be a good housekeeper, but our gargantuan bathroom counter is the one area that I completely ignore unless we're having overnight company--to whom we usually relinquish the master suite while we sleep on the pull-out couch that used to be remarkably comfortable but now is remarkably lumpy. Here's what our vanity usually looks like (if not worse):
What you can't see in the photo--because the digital camera was dead and I had to use the video camera--is the hair all over the place. The reason I never clean it is that it's too much trouble to put away/move all the junk on the counter so that I can wipe it all off. So the hair builds up, along with the paraphernalia, until I either can't stand to look at it another minute or until we have company coming.
Ever since I'd seen Gentle's sparkling vanity, I'd been hearing her voice in my head each time I looked in disgust at my own bathroom. She actually asked me a couple of times whether I'd bought my shoe organizer yet, but I told her I hadn't gotten around to looking, and then I guess we both thought I'd never follow through.
A couple of weeks ago, Bill's parents came for a visit, and the vanity stayed clean for ten whole days (because I wasn't using it)! "Man, it would be nice if it was clean like this all the time," I thought.
So I decided that my Memorial Day weekend project would be to buy a shoe organizer and get rid of all the clutter. I found a natural colored canvas one at Bed Bath and Beyond for $14.95. First, I hung it on the bathroom door and put all the items that I use frequently into the slots. I tried to put the dangerous stuff like hairspray at the top, and the most frequently used stuff in the middle. The more obscure objects, like band-aids, went on the bottom.
Next, I typed up labels on business card paper using a large font. I laid the organizer out on the floor and pinned each label, from the back, with a safety pin. That was a little tricky until I figured out the right angle. I only stuck myself once, and I managed to avoid getting a blood stain on the crisp new fabric.
This is how it looked after Bill helped me hang it back up:
And here's how the vanity looked after I polished the counters and washed the mirrors:
Now if we could just replace the giant mirrors with three smaller, ornate mirrors and get rid of the 90s garden wallpaper, I would actually like the bathroom! In any case, it's a vast improvement.
I proudly showed Bill how to use the new system. He eyed the clean counter dubiously. "It might work," he offered.
It's now been four days, and I'm proud to report that the counter still looks as clean as it did on Sunday. Each time I drop the brush or contact solution or moisturizer into its pouch, I mentally pat myself on the back. Who knew that keeping the counter clean could be so fun?
The best part is that, because everything I use regularly is readily accessible, I almost never have to venture into this dark cavern any more:
You may recall that this cabinet was part of a recent misadventure--I was looking for sanitary supplies, which were the only things NOT in this cabinet. Incidentally, guess what I found in my laptop case yesterday when I was frantically searching for my cell phone charger? Yep, the mother lode of pads and tampons. Now why didn't I think to look in the laptop case?
As I rummaged through this scandalously messy cabinet on Sunday, I contemplated buying the canvas totes that match the shoe organizer. I could type up some more labels and.... Ugh. Maybe next month!