|(I believe the original photo was found here.)|
Apparently this innocent looking picture above has caused a firestorm on the mommy war web. Yikes. I read a very nicely written article about why the bin sucks HERE by The Path Less Taken. You should go read her post. It is good. The thing is, I kind of totally disagree with her (in a nice, non-combative, can we still be friends? kind of way.)
This mom (thumbs pointing at myself) has got to admit something....I would feel like mom SPECTACULAR if I actually did something as organized and clear as a collection bin. Here is how it actually goes down in my house.
(Full disclosure, try not to hate me for admitting one of the many ways I am a freak show walking around in mom pants.)
First I should tell you the ages of my children. They are approximately 7, 5, 3 and 1. My oldest, my son is great about helping and very rarely leaves a mess for me or anybody else. He is my go to guy for cleaning or any kind of help.
The five year old daughter has a lovely habit of packing up all her special stuff, loading it in a stroller and then unpacking it in the living room. She can be very helpful IF she wants to or with a good bribe. She keeps her own things rather neat.
My three year old is like a small, curly haired Tasmanian devil (and I mean that in the NICEST way possible.) She is easier to understand than a Tasmanian devil but actually enjoys yelling "NNNNOOOOOOO!!!!!" more than the creature.
The one year old is officially in the mess making stage and despite the fact that I SHOULD be a seasoned and organized mother at this point with latches on all the cabinets, alas, I am not. She throws stuff on the floor now too.
Then there is me. (I am not even going to APPROACH the mess making habits of my fabulous husband. I am currently focusing on the thousand things he does right.) I am not that organized. I don't really enjoy cleaning. I (gasp) could easily spend too much time on the Internet blogging. I do make a serious effort NOT to do this too much but I do occasionally fail.
So, if you throw it all together in a little tile floored pot you get....one H- E- Double Hockey Sticks of a MESS.
Enter the chore box where you take toys if they leave their crap around.
I would high five myself if I got my crap together enough to actually do something like that, make it, announce it and then follow through. I think I might actually nominate myself as mom of the stinking year. But no, the toy stealing box is decidedly NOT how I handle the constant flux of mess that is my house.
Here is how I handle it:
Sometimes I ignore it.
Sometimes I pick it up myself. (Mostly I do this for the little ones.)
Sometimes I ask the kids to get their stuff.
Sometimes I even "clean with them." (Side note- I see this suggested all the time on blogs about peaceful parenting. Does cleaning with your kids actually work for anybody?! Either my kids are totally dysfunctional or I am doing something horribly wrong- or both- but it does not work for ME. It usually ends up with me cleaning, them chatting and me getting more and more annoyed as they get distracted and don't pitch in. Maybe I should learn that song from Barney. That MUST BE THE MISSING LINK! "Clean up, Clean Up, Everybody everywhere!" BLECH!!!!) Anyway. Needless to say, my attempts and cleaning with the kids usually end very poorly.
Then after all the other attempts have been exhausted I do this:
I FREAK OUT LIKE A NINJA
Then, rather than gently placing their toys in a box and allowing them the privilege of earning them back with another chore, I go nutso. I grab a....TRASH BAG...and I gather up stuff and then- I THROW IT OUT. If it is good enough I donate it to charity. If it is crap, I throw it away.
In. The. Garbage.
If you are wondering if this is traumatic, then you may in fact be right. You can even leave a comment about how awful and abusive I am. Really- go ahead. I won't even blame you. I get it. I am crazy.
Then after this very entertaining episode, I commit to a life as a Mormon housewife who lives like a Buddhist monk. I vow to get rid of all extraneous things. I will only have my drinking cup, a strainer, and some sheets to wear. I will be free of the awful feelings that the love of THINGS has brought into my life. Even just imaging my future monk like existence makes me feel better. Really- it brings peace to my soul. (I actually FANTASIZE about not having a bed and sleeping on a fold out cot thing. Really. I didn't just make that up.)
Unfortunately nobody else in my house is on board with my life of freedom from worldly plastic junk. Nobody else cares. And there is the practical consideration. I have four kids in a single bedroom along with all their toys and clothes. Even if kept to a very minimal amount there is a lot of stuff in a small space. It routinely drives me crazy. I have the misfortune of being both disorganized and frazzled by mess. It is a sure recipe for disaster and capital "C" crazy.
So to all the moms out there who help their existence function a little better with a toy stealing bag or bin or box, I say to you this-
"I wish I was less crazy like me and more like you. You go GIRL!!! I can't even believe that you took the time to make something like that! I feel good about myself if I mop the floor without screaming at somebody. Holy freak girl, I just realized you managed to write a POEM?! Can we be friends?!"
And now, I am going to clean my house. The dread alone is actually numbing. If I was brave I would post a picture of what my house looks like at nine o'clock at night. I will spare you though.
Somebody tell me I am not the only one who is simply glad to survive some days.