Chaos has been a daily part of my life since the day after the last day of school. If you're keeping track, that's seven weeks today. Amazingly, I'm still alive. I have yet to pull my hair out, but I will admit that I've:
*Lost my cool with the kids more than I will care to admit.
*Cried a few times because I was so frustrated.
*Yelled at my husband because the kids were driving me crazy. It's his fault ya know!
*Wondered what I could do to get me arrested for the weekend. A 72 hour hold would be a vacation, dontcha think? Three meals, adult conversation, no lego's to trip on...
*Devoured a few Dairy Queen chocolate ice-cream cones.
*Developed several charts (behavior, cleaning, reward, etc) and none of them have worked.
In our house we have 5 bedroom's. Brenden & Braden share a room, Casey & Caleb share a room and Chloe has her own room. Rob and I have the Master and the last room is my craft room. I have grandiose plans to make amazing things in there, but I'm always too busy. Everybody's room is messy, including mine.
Since the beginning of this year we have decluttered and organized not one, not two, not three, not four, but five times. Five times that I've blogged about, I might add. That means I've spent the majority of this year contemplating and stressing about clutter and being unorganized. That's simply not okay.
It is pouring like mad outside right now. It's 12:31 AM, everyone is asleep and it's quiet (finally) except for the loud thunder, pelting rain on the windows and the waterfall coming from the front porch gutter. I love the rain...and the quiet...
But, I digress. The first thing I did this morning, before getting out of bed, was to pep talk myself into going downstairs. I knew what I would find, no matter what the kids said. It would be a huge mess, a disaster, broken promises, bold-faced lies and disappointment. I am never prepared for this, but I really didn't have a choice. I was down to my last pair of panties and I had no clean clothes left.
The basement (lower level where the boys rooms are, a bathroom, dance room, laundry room and living room) is my biggest nemesis. I hate going down there. Mostly because no matter how much I implement cleaning and laundry schedules, they never seem to get done. I've even stopped going downstairs to tuck the boys in or say goodnight because I just can't take it. Yep, that's me, avoiding the problem.
After hitting the bottom step I forced myself to look around the corner. I was shocked at the mess. I guess it's good that I was shocked (I still have hope), but that could mean I suffer from early onset dementia. I'm not sure which it is and I'm not ready to find out. The basement was worse than I thought and I could feel myself start to boil. I yelled for the twins to wake up and for the rest of the kids to come downstairs. I then yelled for Rob to come and see the mess. I wish I had taken pictures because you would have been absolutely horrified. There was laundry all over the place. We have tons of baskets and the kids had told me they sorted out the clothes. They had not. There was food, bowls, plates and cups hidden here and there. When we moved the sectional pieces food fell out. Animal crackers, chocolate chips and wrappers fell all over the floor as well as itty bitty Lego's. Burrito wrappers and napkins (at least they used those) were stuffed in the cushions. I was disgusted for several reasons:
1. We had just gone through this whole scenario a little over a month ago. We disciplined the kids, took away privileges and had a nice discussion about helping out and finishing chores. It stayed that way for a week or so, but then the kids destroyed it again.
2. Our major rule is that we only eat and drink in the kitchen and yet a few of my children are quick to not comply.
3. I had a busy week and I trusted that they were doing their chores. I was tired and did not follow through with checking on what they said, but at 15 and 13, I shouldn't have to. They lied to me and I allowed them to do things I wouldn't if I knew what the basement looked like.
I was just too tired and lazy to follow through. Partly because I knew what I would find and I didn't have the energy to deal with it at that moment and partly because I wanted so badly to trust that their word was good. I was disappointed in myself and them. More myself though.
So, today (a Utah holiday) was a fruitful day. After my inital freak out session, Rob and I gathered the kids in the basement and put them to work. Casey, Chloe and Caleb were sorting out all the clothes and Brenden and Braden were helping me re-organize the living room. My mom bought us a used sectional when we moved in here last August, but the kids have distroyed it. I'm so glad we didn't spend the money on a new couch! They, mostly the twins, are just hard on couches and I don't know why. Anyway, I asked Rob nicely if he would mind getting it out of the basement. It's uncomfortable to sit on and takes up so much room. The twins and Rob moved each heavy piece out to the garage so we could try to sell it or give it away. We moved our smaller couch into place, dusted all the furniture and sorted all the DVD's.
All of the boys cleaned their rooms and organized their belongings. The twins even changed around their bedroom and I was pleasantly surprised. They did a great job! They straightened up the bathroom, too. I told them they should look at everything that is in their room and ask themselves these things:
1. Do I really want to save this?
2. Do I want to clean it every week?
3. Is this trash? Clothing too worn out/holes?
They listened to me. I didn't even have to stand over them and hound them about every little piece of trash. I did have to tell them they couldn't go out with some friends to a skatepark because they wasted the day away when they could have been cleaning their room. I told them they could either do it right or they could just wake up Saturday morning and start with the room. They knew I meant business, but I didn't imagine they would really clean and organize! Maybe some of me is wearing off on them. Hey, I'm only thinking about my future daughter-in-law. I will raise son's who are willing to get up in the middle of the night with a crying baby, ready to cook a meal, clean the house and do the laundry. I will.
I've been able to venture downstairs many times today and, believe it or not, I was happy. I didn't have fears of possible anxiety attacks and that is a good thing. I wish my children would understand how much energy I have when things are clean and picked up and how miserable I feel when things are messy and overwhelming.
When the big cleaning fest was over, I was able to get six loads of laundry done. Today (Saturday), we will wash the remaining clothing/towels/sheets. This will put us back on track for Monday morning when our previously defunct laundry schedule will be resurrected once again.
Tuesday-Brenden & Braden
Thursday-Mom & Dad
Friday- Make up day so we can remain a little flexible.
Saturday- Sheets, towels, blankets.
My first set of schoolers will head off to school in just three and a half weeks. That's not long. We have tons of things to do (swim, bbq's, pay school fees, etc) before then and I am going to try hard to make this schedule work. Again. So, unless I want to live off anti-anxiety meds I need to start crackin' the whip. On me!
No more being lazy! It doesn't take long to check if chores were completed.
Check the basement each day, no matter what.
Follow up on what needs to be done, redone. Don't let it go!
Issue proper restrictions if needed.
Keep at it! It will get better!