I was busy cleaning out my car the other day, minding my own business, when my organized and perceptive husband came over to me and expressed shock. SHOCK that he caught me in the unusual act of cleaning it out. “Come on,” he said. “No offense, but your car is trash. You don’t take care of your things.”
What a rude and perfectionistic jerk, I thought. But then he pointed out that the dried globs of grape (I think?) jelly on my dashboard have been there for an estimated TWO YEARS. Which I realized was not… exactly... innacurate.
“Okay, well that jelly requires a SPECIAL type of cleaning fluid and maybe an exacto knife because I CANNOT get that off,” I reasoned.
“The good news,” he said, “is that if you ever break down in the desert, you can just eat all of the random food that’s under your seats!”
“Not true,” I said, and quickly plopped down the car seat I’d picked up a minute ago, revealing at least FIVE different types of Goldfish.
(Hmmm… he wasn’t wrong about the breaking-down-in-the-desert thing.)
But oh, crap. Could this be true???! I’d been looking at that jelly for two years (!) and now I didn’t even see it anymore!! What else was I missing about my “things?” How many more things of mine are covered in jelly?
And what does it mean to “take care of things,” anyway? Are things supposed to stay perfect, showroom-status, 24/7? Are you just supposed to hustle your way into a nervous breakdown by taking care of ALL of the THINGS, all of the time? How does one prioritize! Does anyone have any idea how many THINGS there are for a parent -- read, MOTHER -- to take care of??? ESPECIALLY when your actual household conversations go like this:
Child: “By the way, I still have a cheese stick in my pocket.” (Um, ‘Still…?’)
Me: “Ew why!?”
Child: “I’m waiting for it to turn into milk.”
Me: “What??! It’s not gonna turn into milk. It doesn’t work that way.”
Child: “Have YOU ever tried it?”
Child: “Then YOU don’t know!”
You see? This is why we go through two outfits a day around here. It is HARD to keep things tidy with kids.
The other morning, after breakfast on a school day, my inquisitive son took a package of ground meat from the fridge and asked “what’s this, Mommy?” and then later that afternoon I discovered the meat package resting on the patio of my daughter’s LOL-Doll-House, just CHILLIN in the hot tub!
“No,” my husband said. “This was true BEFORE we had kids. You have ALWAYS been this way.”
So rude. So true.
I decided to get on top of this, asap. I scrutinized the front porch. There were bath toys scattered to the right of the doorway. Those didn’t belong there. There were fallen leaves, blown into a sloppy pile that blocked half of our propped-up porch sign, which read either “Mahalo: Please Remove Your Shoes,” OR “Mahalo: Please Remove Your Clothes” -- depending on which word you envisioned behind the sloppy pile of leaves.
I walked inside the house like I were entering a hotel lobby; full of wonder and awe. I decided to examine all of my things to look for filthy or broken and missing pieces.
I noticed 12 pairs of shoes littering the foyer and thought about how some families only have TWO pairs of shoes, total. I bet if I only had two pairs of shoes, I would DEFINITELY store them properly. Tsk, tsk, I thought to myself -- right before I left the two dozen shoes just scattered there, stranded in the hallway, as I continued on my tour.
In my bedroom I noticed a robust pile of clothes flanking my side of the bed. “The better to cushion a fall!” I thought, optimistically.
In the bathroom I saw towels so frayed that the hanging tendrils could rescue Rapunzel.
This. Had to change. I needed a plan of action. So I made one, as follows:
Step one: Procure a time-freezing amulet that allows me to accomplish all-of-the-below while my children are frozen in space, mid-skip on the front lawn:
Step two: Marie-Kondo the place again. Marie-Kondo the place, continuously. Marie says that you should only keep in your house/car/purse the things you LOVE -- the possessions that bring you “JOY.” and to treat every object with respect and the ones you want to discard, you thank them for serving their purpose. (As in, “Thank you for teaching me I don’t like wearing sweaters like you, Cable Knit,” and “I appreciate all of the color that you brought to my closet, beloved Dress-From-6th-Grade-That-Is-Pretty-But-Will-Never-Fit-Right-No-Matter-How-Much-I-Weigh.” You get it? It’s a transformative brand of minimalism.
Step three: Decide what to do with the pieces I want to donate/discard. Create an “Out-Zone” with different bins/drawers/baskets that are assigned to different destinations, like “Thrift store,” “Veterinarian,” for used towels, etc.
Step four: Develop a new system for household (and car) management. Which is easy!
...you just develop your new system.
Um… I am going to consult a professional.
Meet, below, my friend, who has a full-time job and three boys who are somehow ALWAYS fed, showered and dressed. (Plus, on time to places!!! The travesty!!!)
Friend, thank you helping me. A few questions for you.
1) What is your secret to organizing three boys?
No secret really. I am very organized myself so that filters down to keeping their stuff organized within our home. We have cubbies for everything and their own place for everything. Shoes, sweatshirts, toys, Pokémon cards, etc. I also have school folders for each child to store all the school notices, class lists (I even keep the old ones) and upcoming events to look back on as needed. We have a calendar in our kitchen and a corkboard to hang up important papers regarding sports, themed days, birthday invitations and so forth. I then use the Cozi app in our iphones to store all calendar items that can be shared amongst 4 phones. Everything goes into this calendar or it does not exist. My husband can see it, can edit it, add to or delete so that we both are always on the same page. We put birthdays in it, sports games/practices, appointments and even which child has pizza day and when. Then we set up reminders to show up on our phones. With a husband who works rotating shifts, we need to always be on the same page and keep the other one informed.
2) You have a spreadsheet listing all of your children’s clothes. Are you out of your mind? Why would you do that??
Haha yes I do. Organization is key to having less chaos and therefore less stress. With 3 boys all born during different seasons, I found it was easiest to keep a spreadsheet of how much clothing I had in each size. Instead of spending a ton of extra money buying things for them that they might need or realizing too late, that they need more winter clothes, etc… I found it easiest to keep track to know for sure. All of their clothing is kept in bins in the attic, labeled by size of course. This way for #2 and #3, I knew exactly what would be needed for them, if anything. I also keep a spreadsheet for each Christmas for all the people we have to buy for, what we got them, how much we spent and how much we saved. I refuse to pay full price for anything. With all the teacher gifts, family gifts, our kid’s gifts and we adopt a family to buy for… it gets out of control. I budget the money for Christmas all year long so I try to stay within that budget. Each paycheck we put away xxx amount of dollars into a Christmas account so that when Christmas comes, everything is already paid for.
3) How do you keep your car organized? Do you clean it daily? Do you make the kids clean it?
Honestly I keep very minimal in my car. On purpose. The only things I keep in my car are a package of wipes, some plastic bags in my door, and maybe a pen. Oh and some reusable grocery bags in the trunk.
I do not clean it daily. Who has time for that?!?! Lol. To be honest, I do wash my car in the warmer weather quite often but I don't really get to vacuum it out as much as I'd like. Maybe 3-4 times a year.
I often ask for my birthday or Mother's Day for someone (aka my husband) to get my car washed for me. I don't mean a gift card; I mean physically take my car, bring it there, pay for it and drive it back. Although during desperate times, I have brought the kids with me, taken out their car seats and sat for an hour waiting.
4) Have you ever had grape jelly fused to your dashboard? If so, how did you clean it? Asking for a friend.
No I have never had jelly fused to my dashboard before. LOL. Not even sure how that happens exactly.
Haha me neither. That was just a hypothetical question.
But when in doubt... google. I google lots of things when I don't know the answer. You'd be surprised at how easily you can get the answer.
Step five: Google "How to get my shit together." And if that doesn't work then --
Step six: Kidnap my organized friend and make her live with me for as LONG as it takes to turn all of my STUFF from trash to treasure. Thank you friend. xox MOM