Clutter — Mess — Melt down

I am starting to begin the process of losing it. I cannot find two important keys in my house.  The keys, for me, were the proverbial straw on the camel’s back this evening.

I usually don’t make it all the way to losing it. I try to stop somewhere before rock bottom. I don’t like what the downward spiral does to me or my behavior, so I usually see it as a wake up call to change something. Or some things. And there are some things that definitely have to change.

In the earliest part of my marriage I had to adjust to living with someone who was less interested in order and neatness than I am. I wish the consequences of the chaos were all trivial, and issues of toothpaste covers. But they weren’t. We worked through it a lot, and we have both adjusted over the past eleven years… but most of  that adjustment has been organizing everything on my own and making DH stick to it, and/or taking his stuff and finding places to hide it where I won’t have to look at it.

We have been in our current house for six years this week. Wow. Six years. There was a time when I didn’t know if we would ever be able to buy a house. And there was a time when I didn’t think we would be able to fill it. Hah! The amount of places we have managed to stick clutter would be downright impressive if it weren’t so painful to live with.

I do the very best I can to stay on top of seven kids, but I am far, far outnumbered. There is too little sleep, too little time, too little help, too little supervision, did I mention too little time? and way, way too much stuff to keep it all in order the way I would like.

It is no longer just a matter of the toys not being put away properly. Someday, SOMEDAY I WILL find all of the Othello pieces and put them back in the board.

Now it is a matter of filing 2009 as we go, not sometime before April 15th in 2010.  It is knowing where my keys are. It is the feeling that I know where important stuff is, and that it is in the places it should be, so that I don’t have to get so stressed about the placement of the unimportant things. I have a drawer with crafts, markers, scissors and glue in the eat-in part of my kitchen.  It isn’t very orderly, but it is quite useful for now. I am okay with that.

I have a pile of cassettes on a bookshelf that is full of books… I don’t think it looks very good, but I can live with it being in the “someday” category for now.

I have done FLY lady – who I like and am not knocking – and ask anyone who is around me in my house. I am picking up while I do just about absolutely everything else.

Perhaps the tipping point as of late is because we have been in the same place for so long now that the accumulation has gotten really bad.

Perhaps it is because my children have all taken a big leap forward this year, and I know intuitively that the time for my picking up after them constantly really has to come to and end. And the only person I can blame for allowing everyone to get used to that is me.

I am determined to find a place for everything this year, or throw it out. Then I am going to actually expect my children to start putting things in those said places, and my husband too. I might even have to start expecting it more of myself. I am going to have to NOT achieve neatness by doing it for them quickly and efficiently, but by having the patience to make them get in the habit of doing it themselves. I will have to hope that the 20 month old, at the height of the “destructive” phase of life, thank G-d, starts to copy them in this behavior as much as he does all others.

I know intellectually that this ‘training’ will require more energy in the short term, but greater returns with less work in the long run. It just feels like a lot of energy in the short term.

New Year, new changes. We are no longer in a new house. We are no longer a house full of toddlers. Time for a new set of rules, a new way of doing things…..

… it sounds good now while they are all asleep and I am able to sit down…. but I would rather be determined, than having a melt-down.

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