Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mental Block = Clutter Buster

Today was another Saturday without a plan, and I was determined to get us out of the house so we didn't drive one another nuts.  We've had far too many Saturdays lately that go according to this schedule:

7:30 - Kids up, Jacob plays with his iPad, Carter attempts to come into our room to watch TV
7:30 - 9:30 - Carter flops around on our bed, brings in toys, watches shows, and we just try to sleep through it
9:30 - Kids and I go down for breakfast, Craig gets a little more sleep
10:30 - Craig wakes up and keeps an eye on the kids while I get in an elliptical session and then shower
12:00 - By now everyone is dressed and ready for the day, and usually Jacob is outside playing lacrosse
12:30 - A generally uninteresting lunch
1:00 - Carter is watching shows, Jacob has retreated to the iPad or gone back outside, and Craig and I are about ready for a nap...but are usually watching TV or checking social media instead
3:00 - After a lot of putzing around the house and trying to think of something to do, we're stumped and realize that anything we want to do probably won't work that late in the day

Part of the problem is that now that it's so dark so early, evening activities are harder.  It was also downright cold tonight, so the soccer game we were pondering going to would have been pretty darn chilly and no doubt short-lived.  Pretty much the only deviation from the above schedule today was that Carter slept until 8:30, so we had a little break there.  But the rest of the day went according to schedule, and we missed yet another opportunity.  Sigh.  We just don't know what to do.  If it was the apple festival weekend, we'd go wander around.  If it was leaf peeping season, we'd go to Letchworth.  If it was October, we'd go to the pumpkin patch.  But for some reason we've had a heck of a time getting more creative than a park or playground.  So we just end up not going anywhere, usually because one kid or another does something obnoxious and all motivation evaporates.  And to make matters worse, now that Carter isn't napping, he gets extra sleepy if he's watching TV around 5pm, and usually ends up being a little crazy after that if we can keep him awake.  And if we can't keep him awake, it's a disaster.  Last time, if you will recall, he peed his pants two days in a row in the post-hour-long-nap grogginess.  In general, weekend days have been rough.  On the bright side, I have a tentative plan for tomorrow.  Fingers crossed the kids don't make me so crazy that we abort the mission.  We already had a trip to Chipotle planned tomorrow so we can figure out if Jacob (and Carter) can find something he likes there.  It would be huge to have another gluten-free-friendly, omnipresent chain in our back pocket!  The chicken was too spicy for Jacob a couple years ago, but maybe the pork will work?

Anyway, because this house is making me crazy, today it went to a whole new level and I took it out on the clutter.  You know how they say that people suffering from anorexia often get that way because they're looking to control something in their life, and food is it?  I feel that way in certain areas of my life, particularly as things with Jacob get more difficult and now as Carter has picked up a terrible threenager attitude.  Since I can't seem to control my kids, instead I will try to look like I have things under control by dressing nicely for work or posting cool pictures on Instagram or capturing and sharing a rare happy family moment here.  Well, today it manifested itself in psycho-level project undertaking.

I baked gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I fixed something on a tank top that's been waiting on my bed for weeks.  I did a load of laundry.  I dug up a plant outside that I thought was a perennial but was an annual, since it's getting cold at night and I wanted to keep it alive in the house.  I looked through the hand-me-down bins to find more pajamas (only two pairs) and socks (none) for Carter.  I looked through my nostalgia bins in the crawl space to refresh my memory of what's in them and look for one thing I wanted to show Carter (found it). 

I disassembled my broken wardrobe (one of those vinyl zip-up ones with the metal tube frame--it's the second one I've broken because my winter clothes are heavy) and tried to set up a garment rack we had tucked away to see if that would work instead.  It did not, so then I turned my attention to our cedar closet and made room for my stuff in there by moving out a few Halloween costumes and asking Craig to look through the many coats he had there.  He has always gotten at least one per season, per sport, so he had a bunch.  He set a few aside for donation or passing along, and moved other ones to the garment rack as they'll work better there than my clothes did. 

I measured in Carter's room to see if it would be feasible to move Jacob's furniture in there.  Jacob wants a big kid metal bed, and in theory Jacob's furniture style is what I want for Carter's room anyway.  However, Carter's room is small and really not conducive to anything because of the window, vent, and outlet placements.  The bed on one wall threatens to block the entrance a bit and interferes with the window curtains.  The bed on either of the other two walls makes access to the closet difficult, and one of those blocks the vent and the other blocks an important outlet, and with a platform bed that just doesn't work.  So I'm not sure anything will work.  At best we could just put the headboard into storage and reclaim a foot of space, but it's still tough. 

At one point Carter refused to pick up the toys all over his floor, and after I threatened to take them away (inspired by a brave mom at my moms' group who boxed up her kids' toys and is making them earn them back one by one), he told me to take them, so I did.  They joined his Batcave in the basement, since that was taken away due to behavior about a week ago.  But at least his room looks nice and clean right now!  I also divided up his Hot Wheels cars, other vehicles, and other characters/toys into separate bins in the living room.  We'll see how long we can keep them organized like that.  Ha!

I then cleaned up the coloring stuff that had been on the dining room table all week, then organized the bin that holds all of the coloring materials.  That led to me looking through the basket of drawing stuff Jacob received around the time of his surgery, and I moved that entire basket up to his room.  I moved a couple things he doesn't use out of his room down with the rest of the coloring stuff, at which point I decided I also needed to look through the basket of coloring books in the living room that has sat pretty much untouched for a year or so.  I cleared out a pile of books that had been used up by Jacob, along with a ton of old Lego magazines.  I moved the reorganized basket out of the living room and into the dining room with the other coloring stuff.

Then I realized I really needed to organize my desk, for the second time in a couple years.  It just gets overwhelmed easily because the drawers aren't that big.  Oh, and after thinking about the furniture situation in the kids' rooms earlier in the day, then leaving stuff on the kids' table in Jacob's room that he barely uses anymore, I was thinking that at some point it might be wise to get a desk up in Jacob's room because he will need a homework spot.  But at least I have some time to think about that.  Maybe he can just have mine and I'll get a classier one, or maybe we will find a cooler one for him.  Anyway, I reorganized the whole desk for better access to the stuff I need, moved a giant stash of colored scrap paper and kids stickers (all of the ones from the doctor, goodie bags, stores, etc.,) in with the coloring stuff, and made it generally more pleasant to access. 

I fixed a wobbly tray table holder.  I started looking through our front closet, as I knew there were extra coats in there (along with outgrown boots and such), but only got around to grouping more of Craig's coats for review.  I repotted a small plant in my kitchen.  I condensed all of the Pez dispensers to one bigger cup.  I started an art project that's been waiting for months, one to transform a super-cheesy Christmas decoration we won in a raffle.  It's a wooden reindeer with two large candle holders that said, "On Dasher, on Dancer, on MasterCard and Visa!"  It wasn't a bad decoration without that saying, so I had been planning to remove/paint over the saying.  I decided today was the day to paint it, and I decided I might do a speckled layer of gold spray paint after I'm happy with the brown.

I feel like I might even be forgetting a couple tasks, and believe it or not I still have more on my list, but the day basically went like the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books.  One thing led to another, and instead of putting it off again, I finally just did it.  All of it.  Of course, that meant not a lot of quality time with the kids, which I feel bad about, but I'm hoping the combined lower level of stress from no longer looking at clutter and unfinished projects will benefit everyone in the long run.  To be honest, we didn't get rid of much, but I organized what we had and hopefully increased the potential for those items to get used, which is equally important to me.  I still have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks--changing around Carter's seasonal clothes, figuring out the furniture situation, planning for Halloween, and scheduling those fun October weekends, but it felt good to get a few things accomplished. 

Fingers crossed for tomorrow...

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