Sunday, June 2, 2013

Operation Sanity Part 2A: Little Drops

One of my favorite things in the world is to watch colors swirl in water. When we dye Easter eggs, we use clear mugs, mainly because I love to watch that single drop of food coloring twist and flow and spread itself so far that the entire liquid changes in appearance.

My morning routine goes like this: coffee, then creamer. Never the other way around. Because there is something so soothing and visually melodic about watching the cream disappear beneath the surface of the black and reemerge in its milky tan spiral as I stir.

I love it... it soothes my heart.

Let's call that endearingly quirky instead of super weird, mmkay?  

I bring this up because our family has recently added a few drops of sanity into the otherwise chaotic waters of life, and the resulting color change has been magnificent. These are small changes. Insignificant. When I tell you about them, you will say, "That's it?" And I will say, "Ah... but watch it swirl."

So without further buildup (because, seriously, these are minor, minor changes), here are our little drops of sanity:

1. I threw away my kids socks. Matching  up socks is the bane of my existence. Seriously. I hate it. Hence, socks rarely got matched. I cannot tell you how many mornings went in the red zone (interpreted: everybody screaming in a panic because we're so late the school day might actually be finished by the time we get there) because I was digging through a basket of socks trying to find that one pink sock with the green stripes that I knew had been sitting on top of the pile the night before but now had disappeared into the heart of the mountain, never to be seen or heard from again. So one day a few months ago, I blindly threw them all in the trash in a fit of sock rage I methodically gathered them up and disposed of them without uttering one single curse word. Then I went to Target and invested in three packs of the exact. same. socks. My girls are close enough in age that they can share socks, and I have matched nary a pair since that day. Socks go in a central location, and when mommy says "Get your socks on," the girls know to grab one for each foot and proceed to don said respective feet. The end. No more matching. No more digging through baskets. No more cursing under my breath at that @#$(&% missing pink sock airing out my sock frustration in a perfectly healthy, Christian way.

2. The girls tidy their rooms every morning. Who woulda thunk that adding yet another item to the laundry list that is the morning routine would be in any way peaceful? But, oh my word, I love it. We started by spending some time in each room, pruning and organizing. This was not as drastic as it sounds. I put each girl's toys in one big container/box/basket in their respective rooms (more on this in Part 1). We also created space for their "treasures" (tiny scraps of paper, flower petals, stones, and dried play-doh that appear to the naked eye as trash but are, in fact, priceless childhood possessions that, if ever missing, will cause massive weeping and wailing and gnashing of the teeth of tiny little females). Maple has a small desk with a drawer. Chloe (who has significantly more tiny treasures) has a shelf above her bed and her two bedside table drawers. We also put a laundry hamper in each room for - you guessed it - laundry. So every morning, the girls take two minutes (usually while mommy is watching cream swirl and doing likewise productive things) to put everything back in its place. And since we do it every morning, it has never taken more than two minutes. Ahhhh....

3. The girls make their own beds. And I don't fix them. Not even Maple's bed. Which is made up by Maple. Who is three. As much as it goes against my control-freak nature, I have never, not once, corrected or "remade" the beds after they are finished. And you know what I see on their faces when they're finished? Pure and unadulterated pride. They are so proud of their clean rooms and made up beds! If there is a morning that I take for granted that it's been done, Maple pulls on my elbow (which inevitably spills that first sip of coffee) and says: "Hey mommy, wanna come see my woom?" Sparkly eyes are so much better than perfect sheets. And semi-spread beds are so much better than wadded up blankets in the floor.

4. We speed clean. My kiddos are notorious slowpokes. Whether it's getting dressed or eating or cleaning up, neither one has a hurry bone in her little body. So our cleanup time was often peppered with "if this toy is still here the next time I come in here" or "I'm not going to say it again" or "how many times do I have to step on a lego before you realize your mother needs both her feet and maybe you should pick them up!?"  Until flylady saved the day.
I have tried flylady methodology in the past, and I just can't seem to wrap my ADHD cleaning brain around the concept. But one thing that stuck is the timed cleanup. If a task seems too overwhelming to even start, I tell myself, "I'll work for 15 minutes (or 30 or 45 or whatever), and when that time is up, I'm done, regardless of the condition of the task." Most of the time I finish the task before my timer goes off. Sometimes I am so engrossed in the task I don't even hear the timer and end up finishing it anyways. Occasionally I leave the task when the timer goes off and do another timed cleaning the next day. It works for me. I love it.
So I tried it with my kids. I started timing their cleanup. And it worked! What I love about this is that there is no nagging or begging or threatening. They just spring into gear!
Note:  I don't say "If you're not done by the time I count to 3..." Instead, it sounds more like, "Hey kiddos! I bet we can get this cleaned up in 30 seconds! Ready... set... GO!" And I count to 30.  Also: I don't use a timer. Something about the sound of my voice counting helps the girls stay on task, and I can speed up or slow down the counting as needed if a task is taking less or more time than the allotted 30 seconds. I also have a really big mouth, so I can yell my counting from whatever room I happen to be in. 

I have more little drops of sanity, but this post is already a kajillion miles long. Kudos to those of you who stuck through it. I shall attempt to come back soon and finish up! Love y'all bunches!

No comments:

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood