January 5, 2017

no resolutions, just a clean slate

While there is nothing like sledding into January on a clean slate, I'm not big on New Year's resolutions.  The clean slate approach offers more wiggle room and less rigidity.

Never quite sure what I'll find in our pantry.
I typically start the new year with a more dedicated focus on regular house work.  My vow not to let annoying tasks slip off the list of priorities has a shelf life slightly longer than half of the ignored, overlooked, expired food items in the back of the pantry.  Yes, you guessed it.  This is the disorganized pantry housing so much of our kitchen mayhem that I can never quite bring myself to empty EVERY shelf in order to conduct a proper cleaning.  Maybe in 2017.  Maybe

Aiming high at transforming myself into the kind of mom who doesn't cuss and holler at the top of my lungs in a desperate attempt to get the natives to listen to me and take me seriously is suffering from a delayed start this year.  I'm assuming my patience and more acceptable parenting techniques will blossom anew after the kids return to school.  Ah, here is where my wiggle room clause kicks in and protects me from a major guilt trip.  So I didn't clean up my Irish tempered, potty mouthed, no-where-near-mother-of-the-year habit by January one?  I have my reasons.  Namely:  my kids celebratory 'woo-hoo it's Christmas break!' preceded them through the garage door entrance two weeks ago.  And it's not over.  By the time Monday rolls around and the grade school variety drag their unaccustomed-to-waking-before-9:00 am asses out of bed, they will have completed an astounding 18 days off of school.  The college kid will continue to bask in unemployment, supplied home cooked meals, sleep marathons, and no actual responsibilities for another week.  For the next  few days-and in some cases for over a week, I will bark reminders that dart guns belong in the basement, inhaling food is a kitchen activity, sleeping in clothes isn't acceptable, Xbox obsessions are unhealthy, tiny Lego landmines are painful, tossing still-folded clean clothes in the laundry room when too lazy to put them away is rude, and leaving a trail of belongings through the house is grounds for an ass kicking.

Since I don't outline a definitive list of resolutions, I arbitrarily add new adjustments to current systems as I go.  One such issue that needed a desperate update struck me when I returned home one afternoon.  Imagine mounds of dirty dishes - not organized neatly in the sink, but on every available surface, layered with discarded oatmeal packet and granola bar wrappers, partially eaten food, tipped over boxes of cereal, and a loaf of bread left open to encourage staleness.  Earlier that morning - well who are we kidding, it was late morning but with the kids on a sleep-late schedule it was early for us- I compiled a grocery list and darted to the store.

In order to shuttle the youngest four to a 1:05 movie, I called home from the store repeatedly.  I ordered the movie-going kids to eat a quick lunch and be dressed in coats and shoes.  Next I instructed them to meet me on the driveway to help unload the groceries.  Laddie was just waking up.  He and Eddie didn't want to see a movie.  Translation:  they planned to enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted video games.  Shoving in a few bites of lunch myself, I stuffed a few snacks in my purse to pass to the kids during the movie.  I asked Eddie and Laddie to decide who would unload the cold groceries and who would deal with the dirty dishes.  Eddie snagged the grocery detail and Laddie made a barely audible grunt signaling his acceptance of loading the dishwasher.

Start of a kitchen mess, but this is no where near as bad as it gets.
Hours later.  Hours.  I returned home to discover the dishes hadn't been touched.  Added to, perhaps, but not dealt with.   Ed was glued to the Xbox in the basement.  'Quit screaming,' he insisted, 'I put away the cold things like you asked.  Laddie didn't do anything and he left right after you did to go workout.'  At last a new approach was introduced . . .

I informed my offspring that they should be waiting for me when I return from the grocery store.  Most of what I buy I can't eat thanks to Celiac disease.  Eating is one of their favorite past times.  So . . . stand at the door and offer to help in any possible way.  I scolded Eddie for not taking it upon himself to unpack more groceries than just the assigned 'cold things.'  'It's time for you to all do things without being told,' I announced.  Go the extra mile.  Make your mother smile.  This attention to the MANY household tasks that take just a few moments when tackled by the small army that coexist in our home might alleviate the blue streak swearing issue I have adopted.

Ahh, clean dishes . . . I won't unload.
For the remainder of break I vow not to touch the dishwasher.  These sleepy heads can unload it when they decide to wake up and embrace the day.  I will ignore the kitchen disaster until they bother to address it.  Once unloaded, another sibling must take it upon him or herself to PUT THE DIRTY DISHES IN IT.  Novel concept, I know.  Since I prepare unbelievably delicious meals that are quickly devoured (last week I cooked 4 lbs of chicken in a honey mustard dish and ended up with almost NO LEFTOVERS!), the children - who have no sport or dancing practices in the evenings at the moment- will be responsible to handle the kitchen clean up.  If my terms aren't met, I will take myself out to dinner and refuse to feed them.  When Coach was home last night, I heard the clink of dishes being loaded into the washer.  Since these kitchen noises weren't accompanied by sibling disputes over who was working harder and who did what the night before, I knew right away that Coach was actually cleaning the kitchen.  'Stop!' I shouted.  'The kids need to do this or they won't be fed tomorrow.'

Coach scoffed at me, as if my new plan would falter and end up down the drain like a half eaten bowl of soggy cereal.  Ha, but changing things up isn't like a resolution!  My clean slate approach allows me the flexibility to install revisions wherever I see fit.

Now what the _uck happened in the laundry room?  It looks like a department store exploded in here.  Remember, I'm only going to attempt to clean up my four letter word addiction once the kids are back in school. 

1 comment:

Suburban Correspondent said...

I yell at Larry for doing the dishes, too. Same reason - it's the kids' job!