10 and 10: How to de-clutter daily

The semester is winding down.  Three weeks of classes.  Just three weeks.  And while the work and projects and page counts soar, so, too, does the clutter around our house.  Some days, it just overwhelms me, how much stuff we have as a family of five.  So I’ve decided to do something about it.  I call it 10 and 10.

10: Every day, I get rid of 10 items in our home.  Items so far have ranged from an old, rusty necklace to a shirt I no longer wear to a kid’s meal toy to part of a kid’s meal toy.  Getting rid of it entails tossing or donating.  I have a diapers box in my closet where I have been collecting my donation items, and our garbage can is already full for the week!

What went this week?  Here are a few of the things I can remember:

  • dried out nail polish containers
  • expired make-up
  • worn-out and unworn shoes
  • worn water toys
  • old plastic organizers
  • a couple of t-shirts

Each day, I started in a different room.  First the back bedroom.  Then my room.  The kitchen.  The laundry room.  The front bathroom, etc.  Usually, the first item or two make me pause a little bit, but by nine and ten (or while I am chatting with Caroline), tossing becomes so much easier.

And here’s the best part: I feel so much lighter afterward.  Like I can physically feel clutter retreating.  Definitely a domestic rush.

Now for the second half…

And 10: This phase, I just came up with the other night, but I haven’t implemented it yet.  I plan to start tomorrow night.  This ten refers to ten minutes.  Before I get ready for bed, I am going to start spending ten minutes straightening up and putting things away around the house.  Who knows?  Maybe I will even throw a few more items away.  At the very least, I will get to wake up to a house that is a little bit tidier.  Which means I will wake up a little bit more content.

I am starting to believe that there is a definite correlation between clutter and my productivity levels.  Sometimes I can ignore the clutter, especially when I am in full throttle survival mode.  But sometimes I can’t.  10 and 10, I think, will help me manage the clutter with a daily dose of working to manage and cut down on it.

I’m pretty pumped about this plan!  By Christmas, I’m hoping for some clear shelves and unstuffed drawers.  I’m hoping to make this a habit I can maintain.

Less clutter = more productivity and less stress

I like that equation a lot.

How To Be an Aunt

I have wonderful aunts.  My kids have wonderful aunts.  And now I get the chance to be an aunt.  I am still reeling from this realization, especially after my trip to Virginia to meet my niece and nephew and spend time with the proud new parents.  It was nice for a change to take a back seat in terms of child care and newborn anxiety, to not be the one in the hospital bed recovering from a c-section and waiting for milk to come in.  This time around, I got to be the one changing diapers, tracking feedings, and holding the little ones, whispering promises to them of future shopping trips and spoiling and second and third helpings of sugary treats.  Caroline, I wonder where I got all those ideas from?

Unfortunately, I probably won’t see the twins again until Christmas, so my aunty duties are long-distance for now.  But I already have Christmas presents bought for them.  I’m already planning nicknames and future play dates when all of the cousins can get together.  I can’t wait to hold them again.

So in the meantime, here’s my stab at what I think being an aunt means, lessons I’ve learned from Aunt Barb, Aunt Lynne, Alli, Claire, and Caroline, as well as my experience thus far.

1.  Don’t buy “mom” gifts.  This might be hard for me, but I’m going to work at it.  Basically, this means not being quite so practical.

2.  Keep in touch and inquire often.  Right now, I am completely invested in the bowel movements of my niece and nephew.  I long for updates throughout the day.

3. Plan fun activities that involve shopping, sugar, and play-dough.  This is all from Caroline.  She’s got this step down and Riley and Adrian love her for it.

4.  Don’t worry about sugar intake or making messes or spoiling.  At the end of the day, the kids go home to their parents.  Hehehehe.  Yes.

5.  Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle.

6.  Find special ways to get involved.  Aunt Barb and Aunt Lynne used to take Allison and I school shopping in Ohio.  I remember those outings well.  Aunt Barb and I found my senior prom dress on a clearance rack for thirty dollars.  I loved the way it shimmered.

7.  Support the parents without parenting.  In other words, I get to be the good cop for once.  Okay, so maybe I am usually in good cop mode even with my own kids…

8.  Start traditions.

9.  Have fun.  It seems like aunting really is all about having fun with the kids.  No baths or bedtimes or vegetables to fuss about, for instance.  Get ’em dirty.  Stuff ’em with snacks.  Laugh ’em up.  C-squared (both of their names start with C), that’s what I’m talking about!

10.  Be there.  For the kids.  For the mom.  For the dad.  Help create a network of love and support.

Did I mention I’m excited about this aunt business?

How to NOT dine out

1.  Do not want to cook on a Friday night.  Instead, show up at IHOP with three happy children and two hungry parents.  Scan menus.  Play with sugar packets.  Feed baby yogurt pops.  Wait.  Start stopwatch timer.  Play with salt shakers and syrup bottles.  Wait.  Color kids’ menus.  Wait.  Feed baby more yogurt pops.  After fifteen minutes, ask a passing manager if she knows who your server is because you still don’t and now the happy children are morphing into hungry not-so-happy children.  Patient yogurt–pop-eating baby starts to fidget in her high chair.  Manager takes drink order and assures you server is on her way.  And she is.  So you order.  Make only one special request, like no hot peppers in the egg skillet dish.  Start waiting again.   Big kids start crawling and squirming in the booth.  Baby throws straw, spoons, her sippy cup on the floor.  Only wants food.  Food that you don’t have yet even though everyone around you, even those seated after you, has theirs.

Food arrives.  Egg skillet dish has hot peppers in it.  Send it back to the kitchen.  Cut kids’ food up.  Pour syrup.  Give pancake bits and pieces to baby.  Let husband have your bacon while he waits on his egg skill dish with no peppers.  Eat as fast as you can.  Any minute, squirming quasi-eating kids are going to morph again, this time into syrup-hyped-bouncing creatures for whom the Booth is Not Enough.  Resist the urge to savor your banana bread french toast which is delicious, really, but would be more delicious if it had arrived, say thirty minutes ago.

Upon arrival, have egg dish immediately packed up.  Flee.  Take all three children to parking lot while husband puts at least half of each item ordered into to-go containers.  Make comments like, “We’re never coming here again!”  “No more going out even for free kids’ meals on a Friday night.”  “I wonder if I can find a recipe for banana bread french toast on Pinterest?”

At home during movie night, finish eating dinner.  Let kids run around playroom to exhaust their syrup energy.

2.  Celebrate grandparent arrival with a trip to Olive Garden, grandma’s favorite restaurant that just so happens to have a coupon that expires today for free kids’ meals.  Decide this is dining out destiny.

After water appears on table, wonder about bread sticks.  Watch bread sticks, then salad appear at other tables.  Let fifteen minutes pass.  Bread sticks show up.  Shake off the wait.  Kids are still entertained by grandparents, playing I-Spy, and sleep.  Place order.  Make two requests for sauce substitution.  Wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Tell husband you think it’s your family, that you are black clouds in restaurants.

When the entrees arrive, know you are black clouds.  Both sauce-change requests have been ignored.  Send them back and start waiting again.

At the end of the meal, flee with kids to the bathroom and then the car while they are still happy.  Meanwhile, have waitress lose credit card in her apron.

3.  Take everyone, grandparents too, to Moe’s for Moe’s Monday.  Be excited that the dining experience at Moe’s is not contingent upon servers.  Declare this a fail-proof eating out adventure because you have done it so many times.  What could possibly go wrong today?

Start ordering at counter.  Halfway through husband’s burrito order, have baby boy throw up on husband.  Finish burrito order while husband and baby boy go get cleaned up.  Hear sounds of more throw up over by bathroom.  Pay for everyone’s order and get food to the table.  Blame over-excitement and consequent throw-up of baby boy on a successful trip to the dentist appointment, a bouncy ball, and fluoride.  Sit down to eat with half-naked baby boy sitting on husband’s lap.  Dig into nachos.  Feel splatter on shoes.  Look over.  Try not to look down at the floor.

Have grandpa ask for a mop and wave goodbye to husband and clearly sick baby boy.  Finish meal with the rest of the family.  Talk about not going out to eat for a long, long, long time.  Bring home candy as a consolation prize for husband who had to change his clothes at least five times in a two hour period because baby boy either a) did not have a bucket or b) possessed underdeveloped etiquette and/or skill to utilize bucket appropriately.

By morning, be sick.  Everyone except baby, that is.  Take a vow not to eat out for a month.  Maybe a year.  Maybe longer.