Of shoes and ships and railroad tracks, and doll houses and things…

Trying to get re-organized after a major holiday is always a struggle. There is always so much fatigue, apathy and confusion to overcome. After Christmas day, you also have to contend with children excitedly stewing toys from room to room. I have no magic formula for this. In fact, I’ll be honest and say that Monday was kind of a bust as far as house-cleaning went. I think I washed dishes, gathered laundry and swept. Other than that…(and cooking)…

I did purchase some more Rubbermaid tubs of various sizes to contain toys with small parts (Lincoln logs, etc.) and pushed those into service. I hate little toys scattered underfoot. Plus, I have sensitive feet. Especially at night. Need I say more?

To some extent I have to realize the limitations of the family and the house. Having children of a certain age means you will have little cars rolling around under the dining table. It means you will have train tracks extending from the door to the dresser to under the bunk beds. Long, long gone are the days when I could set something down, come back later, and find it still there. (Especially crochet hooks. I have a little boy who for some reason thinks these are arrows.) I swear, I’m raising a crop of borrowers.

A post I read today by Kh. Nicole both cracked me up and encouraged me. Here’s an excerpt:

To any friend who has ever detected a nostril flare from me upon me encountering a mess, my sincerest apologies. I understand now. In order to accomplish almost anything that takes longer than 15 minutes, I sacrifice Clean in some other space. The only real thing I can do is contain the mess. I can’t really ever live without it. Unless I make Sweet Pea sit on her hands in a chair all day. (Come on, I can’t be the only mother who’s ever had that thought run through her head occasionally.)

So, because having a thought like that doesn’t equate with actually doing that, I have a mess. All. The. Time. It drives me bonkers, but I’ve noticed that it stresses me out the most when I think other people are judging it. Well, that’s not a major philosophical discovery, I know, but in any case I’m trying to relax my standards a bit so that my kids feel that this home also belongs to them. They shouldn’t have to behave like a guest in their own home.

So balance. Some ways I’ve started making sure the messes can be contained are to corral all the art supplies in a tackle box and stick it up out of reach. That way, when Sweet Pea starts a craft, I can be on Craft Alert and make sure it stays on the table. Books out of her room have a box so that they’re handy, but not messy. Toys in the living room live in a big blue bin and currently the bin is in a Pack N Play, an object that I have found, in my few years of parenting, to be almost entirely useless, but Fr. A likes to use it occasionally when he’s watching the kids so it is currently a piece of furniture in our living area… I use it for storage… and to keep Mishmish away from the puzzle shelf. The mess is still, well, a mess, but at least I don’t have to step on it. If you come over, feel free to flare your nostrils at the piles of books, crafting supplies, procrastinated mending, and jars of wildlife. I’m just thankful that I have little ones to mess up my house. I’d much rather have my kids and a mess, than a magazine house and nothing but my orchids for company.

Kh. Nicole, feel free to move in next door any time you like.

10 thoughts on “Of shoes and ships and railroad tracks, and doll houses and things…

  1. For me, my greatest frustration is dealing with the baby boy who takes apart whatever I have cleaned as soon as I turn my back. It drives me crazy. I've starting cleaning certain parts of the house only when he is otherwise occupied or asleep. I have found it nearly impossible to have ever room clean at the same time. And if they do seem clean, it is probably because the master bedroom is a disaster and has gathered up lots of the odds and ends. it is a constant battle.

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  2. Michelle: I know what you mean! My answer to that has temporarily meant sticking Mishmish (who has just turned 1) in my Ergo and carrying my papoose around the house with me. Though I'm still not sure what to do with my 3yo “helper”… I keep telling myself I'm training her for later and I'll be happy I did. Kinda hard to see the long term sometimes, especially when I know the Bishop is coming over for dinner!

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  3. Fortunately, for us, we won't have the Bishop coming for dinner any time soon 🙂

    But I don't think I can handle wearing my 25 pound son on top of being 22 weeks pregnant. When I babies are little, I wear then while I clean, cook and do just about anything, but he's getting a little bit for that, and I don't think he would like be restrained. He is very active 🙂 He is lucky because he has two older siblings to occupy him from time to time.

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  4. I love this post, especially as I am in that phase as well where we try to reorganize things. It's a bit of a challenge since both grandmothers will come in a bit over a week and will no doubt add more toys of varying sizes. I am an evil sneaky mom, and when Joseph isn't looking I pitch those evil McDonald toys that are over a month old and only get played with when he stumbles upon them, in the garbage can. One thing that I am glad of to have done is, to have rearranged some furniture and storage before christmas, since I knew what was going to be given.

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  5. Isn't someone going to comment on the brilliant title for this post? A take-off on the Walrus and the Carpenter, from Through the Looking Glass. Very droll, Matushka.

    “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
    “to talk of many things:
    Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
    and cabbages and kings,
    and why the sea is boiling hot,
    and whether pigs have wings.”

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  6. I'm already having heart palpitations over the thought of asking Father to bless this mess in a few weeks! The new dog plus the old cat have somehow created chaos (isn't it nice to have somebody to blame!!) Like Michelle, I can't seem to get all the rooms clean at the same time.

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  7. I know this filling all to well. I do notice that I function better when the main living areas are tidy including the master bedroom. Now the girls room is a whole different story.

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  8. One thing I like about visiting homes where kids are happy and active is that the toys are spread out in the living room, so I get to play with them!

    My parents have had toys and books and magazines everywhere for 33 continuous years– and counting!

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