Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cleaning Up My Messes

You know what's humbling? When you go to get all mad at someone else for making a mess and realize that it was you.

Or worse, it wasn't you, but it was totally your fault.

For instance, I know Madison can't get in or out of her duo costume without assistance. Both the fasten at the back and the pull over the booty, it's a two man job. So why on earth would I put her into it, completely, touch up her makeup, and THEN send her to the restroom by herself for a "just in case" pee. As she wiggled her head around trying to manage it herself, she tipped her head down to her chest and gave it her all. And a huge lipstick stain on the white bodice. Who did it? Her. Realistically who was actually at fault? Me. 

Or when I go to clean out the car, and the drink I've drilled into the girls as essential to NOT spill gets knocked over by me, because I'm being careless, climbing into the backseat to get something or other that I could totally ask the girls to get.

Or when I ok something and have no idea what I'm saying ok to and don't research it at all. I allowed Reagan to use some birthday money on this "fluffy slime", which felt a lot cleaner than the slimy slime I've basically banned. So I allowed her to play with it on a plate on a tray and put no hard restrictions on it at all. Do you know what fluffy slime does? It crumbles into tiny little crumbles, no matter what, and those little crumbles migrate to your clothes and hands and shoes and get tracked into your carpet.

I've gotten pretty good at stain removal. I can get lipstick out of costumes, drink spills out of cars, slime off most things.  I google and research and try to make sure I can get things to last at least a LITTLE while longer than they might.

I've got messes all over. But I'm working on getting them all cleaned up.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Ten Minute Challenge

With our current schedule, we have to be creative about getting things done.

Let me back up. Before Madison's dance started creeping later and later into the evenings, we worked out a plan where the girls worked a ten minute cleaning into their evening routine. One girl got ready for bed (because even at the tender ages of not quite seven and eight they can't be in the same bathroom at the same time brushing their teeth and washing their faces).

When we set that up, we explained to them that cleaning didn't have to be a huge, massive, time sucking, write it on the calendar, take up an entire weekend thing if we did little bits at a time. Ten minutes of tidying up your room at night - making sure whatever toys or books you used are put away, making sure your laundry made it into the hamper - keeps things manageable. Wipe down the bathroom counter and hang up your towel.

It had mixed results, but we kept it up anyway. Effort and all that.

Now Madison isn't getting home until 8:00 or later, and we have to eat dinner and take showers and wind down and still manage to make it into bed before I feel really negligent. If Adam is traveling, Reagan is following the same schedule even though her dance never runs later than 7:00. And yes, it's only ten minutes, but it feels like that straw that will break us. So we let it slide.

We decided to start it in the mornings. I mean, the girls don't have to be at school early, so we can easily do something in the mornings. But that doesn't seem to work either. I can't figure that part out, but it's not part of our routine right now.

So I decided to embrace Reagan's fascination with YouTube, and we started the "challenge" mindset.

I proved to them it could be done with my "10 minute clean the car challenge" and my "10 minute clean the kitchen" challenge. You clean, completely uninterrupted for ten minutes. At the end, you're done. Done or not, and you get to take a before and after picture or a time lapse video if that's what floats your boat.

The girls were skeptical. They're much more into the "pause challenge" or the "don't laugh" challenge, but YouTube is YouTube and the girls liked the idea.

So we're trying it. Whenever we have a moment. And my two truly competitive girls love to show off what they can get done.

And we'll see how long it lasts!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Wait, When Did I Last...

 There have been plenty of articles about that, however much parents work together to make running the household and raising the kids a two person, fair share job, moms carry the mental load. And moms everywhere said "um, duh?"

Adam and I, when buying our life insurance, joked about how much we needed to cover him (as a single income household, this was a big deal - we knew we'd need enough to buy me the time to get life organized without freaking out about losing the house) and then how much we'd need to cover me.

"Double," he said. "I need a full staff to do what you do."

He can put the girls to bed, and brush their hair and do the laundry and clean the kitchen and vacuum.

But it's the "everything else" thing. Arranging appointments and realizing it's time for new shoes and toilet paper. Signing up for lessons and keeping an eye on reading and screen time and interpersonal conflicts.

Then there's the memory stuff.

When did we last get my car detailed? When did we last get the furnace cleaned? Shoot, I'm about a year late on that appointment. Are we due for a septic pump? Wait, HOW long has it been since we cleaned the carpets? Did we email the dance teacher about that costume piece?  Why don't we have any food in the freezer?

It's a load.

We recently had a "come to Jesus" moment about it. Adam is a GOOD husband, great at cleaning the kitchen and rolling up his sleeves and tackling the sock basket, but the mental load was absolutely killing me. I was organizing dance stuff and co-op stuff on top of our own everyday stuff (the socks, the kitchen, the homeschool stuff) and also trying to remember to call the oil company and the insurance company and bring the check to the chiropractor because I keep forgetting.

Yes, I know. Get a bullet journal. Install (insert life changing app here) on your phone. Create a habit for first thing in the morning and right before bed. Stop staying up so late and playing on my phone.

And know, with some satisfaction, that despite my lack of income, they couldn't make it without me.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Little Twitches Everywhere

You know how we all have our pet peeves? Silly, ridiculous things that people do that drive you insane? Your eye is TWITCHING from how annoyed you are, but when you go to vent or whine or complain, you realize YOU are the one that sounds like the spoiled brat?

I'm in a twitchy place right now.

First, I am still in the rental car, and it's bugging me. They said 7-10 days, we're on day 14, and there's no end in sight. In fact, even though I did EVERYTHING right, there's still all this paperwork/insurance nonsense that's slowing everything down, and I am not supposed to do a thing about it. Just wait for the paperwork to clear and then they'll START. They'll START. Mind you, I am paying for the taxes on the rental, so my mental calculator is starting to ring up. A little amount plus a little amount plus a little makes me want to scream at the woman when she calls or texts me the status. But I can't. Because I need her on my side.

Second, we're in a constant state of mess. Not just clutter. I mean, yes, plenty of clutter, but MESS. Globs of toothpaste in the girls' bathroom. Smears on every window and mirror because apparently Reagan is in a kissing phase when it comes to glass.

A basket of socks that need matching that I just can't deal with. Can't. It's too much.

The TV constantly being on the golf channel, no matter who else is watching.

The little things that keep breaking down. Nothing major, nothing that's going to break us, but just irritating.

No one is getting seriously sick - no flu, nothing tragic - but we've had little fever viruses and stomach bugs wrecking havoc with our schedule.

Adam is doing his "I'm frustrated with work and with not getting outside enough" rants, and me being the only co-worker he has to yell at.

People at dance, at co-op, in life, just doing things and making waves that so DON'T NEED TO BE MADE!

Fortunately, if these are my worst issues in life, than things are not so bad. I have a car that is getting restored to perfection at the cost of only our deductible. I can encourage Adam to go out and vent to some friends and do some winter activities. I can pull myself up, get things cleaned and organized.

But that doesn't mean I'm not twitchy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Here, There and Everywhere in a Rented Car

I've been in the rental car just over a week now. Clearly, I was very spoiled, very quickly by my new car, because although this car is perfectly adequate, and has a decent number of features I got used to, and it's certainly nicer than my OLD car, I'm already ready to be done with it.

It feels SO SMALL. I realize, it's a normal five seater. But after getting used to three rows of room (or two rows plus a GIANT trunk), this takes us back to feeling tight. The girls are in close quarters again and they aren't loving it. I'm not able to do the carpooling I'm used to. I had to load the dance stuff into it last week, and it was such a downer when I compare it to what I was anticipating.

I have to use my actual key! I know, that's such a ridiculous thing. But after a few months of just having to touch my door to unlock or lock it, and getting to start with the push of a button, I'm spoiled. It's cold. I don't want to dig in my pocket or purse.

It's not set up how I want it to be. I don't really want to "move in", because I'm hoping it'll be gone in another week. But it's so irritating not to have my stuff where I so carefully placed it back in the fall.

On the other hand...

I don't have to care about how many miles I'm piling on. I can happily drive to field trips, in cities where the miles are harder, to dance competitions and extra rehearsals. Yes, it's my gas, but it's not my miles. It's not my oil change. It's not my tire wear.

I'm keeping the car neat (because I certainly don't want a detailing bill), but I'm not sad that I'm not super paranoid about the girls destroying the new car.

I suddenly have an amazing amount of room in the garage again.

I guess it's not all bad after all!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Building Expectations

Lately the girls and I are all over the place with our routines. I'm not sure if it's the mid-winter blues, or the fact that we've had a bunch of little annoying illnesses coming one after another, but we are just not in that well organized, expectations met and managed, to-do list done place we were in September.

Then I get frustrated, and I feel behind and like I'll never get caught back up, and we're always chasing our tail, and we weather set back after set back.

I'm a grown up. When I fall apart, it's me who has to make up the time and re-force the habits. But if I let the girls fall into bad habits, it's doubly hard. They've gotten used to me not bugging them to clean their rooms, asking them to empty the dishwasher. They get used to not having to put away the laundry. They get used to having school stuff scattered here, there and everywhere. And when I'm finally pulling myself back into routine, I have two kids who are used to no expectations.

So, yeah, that's not great. The girls are normal kids. They're nice and helpful and they'll do what's expected of them, but if I don't expect things, they don't do them. And rebuilding those habits are HARD.

So I took a page from a friend's book (although her kids are older and it's more about phones and curfews and driving) and we wrote it all out. All the expectations. What they need to do, what I need to do, and how we're going to get it all done. How much time we dedicate to school, to home maintenance, to practicing, everything. They're old enough, and understand enough, to see the whole picture and how they fit in.

Will it work long term? Who knows. Slumps happen, busy seasons happen, life happens. But I'm hoping that we can work together to get ourselves back on track.

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