Yesterday morning, I suffered a Clutter Conniption. It was an episode of pure frustration in which I grabbed a contractor-size trash bag and stormed each room in our house in search of headless dolls, broken crayons, dried out markers, and empty Play-doh containers. Clutching a stray piece of doll furniture, I declared, “NO MORE PLASTIC TOYS…EVER!”
I call these my Mommie Dearest Moments.
Please join me in confession and admit that you, too, have experienced them.
I sweat the small stuff. The Candy Land gingerbread markers stuck in a box of magnetic doll clothes. The runaway Thomas the Train cars. The Hello Kitty stickers that won’t peel off the hardwood floor without the help of an X-Acto Knife. The rubber Polly Pocket pieces…350 of them…trapped between the couch cushions. And the Cheerios. Little life preservers of toasted oat, crushed to dust under the pressure of Twinkle Toes.
Let me be perfectly clear: I am not the obsessive-compulsive type who insists that toys be categorized in bins. (OK, I tried it, but my girls scraped off the identification labels). I don’t demand an immaculate dwelling that suggests guests could eat off the floor, but as a ranking member of this family, I DO deserve to live in a peaceful home.
I’m not mad at my children, but I am irritated with myself for letting the house get away from us. I surrendered to the holiday mayhem so I could spend time with my family, but now that it’s April, I can’t get away with it any longer. It’s time for me to clean house, and in more ways than one.
While I probably should have turned to The Good Book for encouragement, I chose Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller, “The Happiness Project” instead. Rubin gave up a stellar career in law to become a writer in hopes that it would make her a more pleasant person, one that her husband and two daughters would enjoy living with, too. Feeling this was a page ripped from my very own life, I decided to give Rubin’s advice a try, starting with Chapter One — Boosting Energy.
To regain vitality, Rubin suggests that everyone should go to bed earlier, exercise regularly, tackle a nagging task, and toss, restore and organize our disheveled lives. Household disorder is an energy drainer — the culprit that robs mothers, in particular, of the inner serenity we crave.
Before running to Target for bins and boxes to house that which we’ve decided to keep, Rubin reminds us that we need to identify the underlying problem. What triggers our tantrums?
Rubin discovered that she didn’t hate her clothes, but clothes hangers (Joan Crawford would have agreed). Therefore, she never hung anything up. After installing hooks on the backs of closet doors, she found herself putting things away more frequently. As a result, her irritations eased.
So what’s my problem?
I’m still trying to figure it out, but I think we run around too much. Between pick-ups, drop-offs, games, meetings, volunteer work, errands, and owning a business, I live in the car…and ultimately…a store. The more I’m out and about, the more I shop and spend, picking up little presents for the girls to show I was thinking about them during my day. As a family, we don’t rest very much, and I wonder how much simpler life would be if we just learned how to sit still for a while.
But for now, I’m going for a long walk to clear my head and brighten my mood. And, if that doesn’t work, I can always prune the rose bushes.