Friday, November 14, 2008

Week I -- Day VI -- Laying the Foundation -- Our purse

Let's organize our purses...

(Please note that in this course, I will be linking to many Internet resources. If I include a link, that does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything on that site.)

I'm still working on my home office/desk/sewing area/extra bedroom, but I won't hold y'all back to my schedule. This is a work at your own pace project, with each person setting their own priorities and their own pace. So, if you're ready to move on, the next step in our fundamentals week is to check your purse organization.

The naturally organized among us have already taken out and thrown away the one crumpled receipt at the bottom of their very neat bag. Others of us have a lot of work to do! I include myself in the second category.

One reason why I'm starting with our desk and our purse is that organization begins in the heart and mind and moves outward from there. In a way, our most personal tools -- our desk, our purse, and our to-do list or calendar -- make up the first circle of organization around us. (We could also extend that to the master bedroom, our closet, and our bathroom space. ) If we keep the areas and tools which we use on a daily, personal level neat and pretty, it will do wonders for our effectiveness and our attitude as keepers at home.

Warning: Don't get on a guilt trip here. Carrying a chronically messy purse isn't the end of the world. Neither God nor the people we love will judge us by the neatness or messiness of our bags. Organizing our purses is to help us be peaceful rather than frazzled. Also, if we aspire to a feminine presentation, keeping a neat purse will help us there, as well. We need to keep matters like this in their proper proportion, however, so that we don't create an artificial standard to judge ourselves by. That only leads to guilt, rather than peace, and it thus defeats the purpose of being organized.

Every woman will have different needs and preferences when it comes to her purse. Some women like smaller purses, some bigger. Some prefer one type of wallet to slip inside of their purse, and some prefer another. Some may need to carry more items, while others can get by with a very streamlined purse. Some women change purses with their outfits; others use one basic handbag for all occasions. The mother of infants may not even carry a purse, but might stick her wallet and her calendar in a diaper bag.

There is no one right way to organize a purse or handbag, so choose what works for you. Just commit to periodic (weekly) upkeep, so that whatever items you do choose to carry in your purse stay organized. If you can easily put your hands on an item in your purse when you need it, it will save you time and frustration. I have found out the hard way that it's not fun to have tired children at your feet and an impatient cashier looking on while you dig in the bottom of a jumbled bag for your checkbook. Nor, is it fun to disturb everyone at church while you bring out your wallet, your keys, and your cell phone in an attempt to find your reading glasses.

Here's a wonderful article that Meredith of Like Merchant Ships did for our Ladies Finishing School about purse organization as it relates to budgeting and thrift. Many of you may have already read this, but I don't think we can improve on Meredith's wisdom.

Here's an idea that was popular for a while: a make your own purse organizer.

I may try this one day, but, if I do, I think I will make a smaller one. Of course, if you carry purses with organizer pockets built in, you wouldn't need this.

Another way to corral items inside your purse is to place them in two or three different cosmetic bags. Clear ones allow you to see exactly where each item in the cosmetic bag is so that you don't have to fumble around for something.

One way to cut down on purse clutter is to keep some necessities in a cosmetic bag in the glove compartment of your car (or one in each car if you are a two car family). For example, you could keep an extra pair of hose in case you snag the ones you're wearing, a comb or brush, feminine supplies, a nail file, baby wipes for baby and for grown-ups who eat chocolate :), a few Kleenex, a couple of band-aids, and safety pins or even a travel sewing kit for emergencies. Because glove compartments are subject to wide swings in temperature from hot to col, I wouldn't include any perishables, such as medicines or food. If you do keep non-perishable necessities in your glove compartment(s), you won't feel that you need to cram them all into your purse or diaper bag. Leave the cosmetic bag in your glove compartment at all times, and up-date it periodically.

Remember, doctors and physical therapists warn us not to carry handbags that are too heavy. How much does your purse and its contents weigh? I've heard various figures from 1 pound to 3 pounds being the upper limit that is good for your joints. I don't know how realistic that is, especially for mothers who are carrying diaper bags. I don't think we should fret about it, but I do think it's wise to ask ourselves if we really need each item that we're carting around.

If you are young and strong, you probably wonder why this matters. Trust me. There will come a day when your joints talk back to you if you haven't treated them well through the decades. The joints that speak most loudly to me are my neck and my shoulders. Hmm...I think I should weigh my handbag, though I am not too keen on finding out that I'm over the limit. LOL.

I personally have found that no matter how large a handbag I carry, I will fill it up. So, one way to control purse clutter is to carry a purse that is no larger than medium sized.

Cleaning out a purse should take less than five minutes. Dump all of the contents onto an easily cleanable surface or a towel. Immediately throw away trash, such as empty wrappers, receipts that are of no value any longer, etc. Throw any loose change into a jar or put it back in your wallet. Place the contents you want to keep neatly back in place.

If you carry a purse comb or brush or make up brushes in your purse, when was the last time you cleaned them? You probably remember to wash the makeup items and hair items you use in your home, but you may not think about the ones in your purse. Keep them fresh.

Also keep your purses clean and in good repair. Remember, our handbags get carried into very germy places, including public restrooms. We also carry them with our hands, which are also germ magnets and a means of transferring germs from our handbag's surface to our mouth, nose, or eyes. We don't need to be germ-a-phobic about this, but it does pay to give our purses a little cleaning from time to time. Leather can be cleaned from time to time with mink oil or a leather cleaner, and vinyl can be wiped with a damp cloth. Sometimes, vinyl can even be cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner -- Check a small part of the surface to make sure it doesn't harm the dye.

If you are really serious about keeping your purse for a lifetime of good wear, stuff it with tissue paper when you aren't using it. Never stack it sideways or hang it up, but store it upright. You can even store purses you aren't using in felt dust bags or in breathable cotton pillowcases. To be honest, I haven't been serious enough about my purses to stuff them with tissue paper or place them in protective coverings. But, I do have a leather handbag that I should store in this way.

If you choose wisely, you really only need one handbag. Choose something that is neither too dressy nor too casual in a neutral that's just right for you. If you have a coat and shoes in the same neutral, you will always look coordinated.

If you have room in your budget for other bags, you might consider a summer handbag, a summer carryall, and/or a dressy purse or small evening bag. After that, you can think about fun bags in different colors to add variety to your wardrobe.

For Your Home Economics Notebook:

Read Genesis Chapter I and jot down your thoughts about God's wonderful creation. God could have made it all happen in one instant. Why do you think He created the earth in stages? What did He do after each stage? What does creation tell us about how God does things? What about order, function, and beauty as elements of creation?



Pauline said...

Hello Elizabeth

Another day done for me "O) Here is my link and thank you for a really great post. I got a lot out of this one to think about and work on!

Blessings in Christ

Mrs. U said...

Wonderful post!! I'm just a wee bit behind in reading your course but LOVE everything I read and learn!!!

Oh I had a good laugh about cleaning our purses!! Yes, it does only take about 5 minutes for me to clean it out, but boy do I procrastinate doing it!! LOL!! I'm heading off right now to do that just now! Thank you!

Mrs. U