How to Surrender 2010

I surrender. I give up and give in to the ten tons of laundry that has invaded my home, along with the despicable crumbs of food everywhere and the fact that I haven’t showered in three days. And no, I don’t have two newborns… not even one!

It’s New Years Eve Day and well, that’s just how it is around here. You know what, I think I’ll make it. 2011 will come anyway… no end of the world, despite my clearly having lost my Type A Mom status.

But seriously now, “surrender” was my word for 2010. When it came to me on New Year’s Eve 2009, I didn’t realize the weight of it — it’s significance and what it would require. What?! You mean I actually have to do it? Give up control?! It was only when I actually let go that I realized how tightly I was holding on — and how tired I was from doing it.

Have you ever watched your kids insist on doing something “the hard way?” Just recently, I told my 7yo, “Trust me on this one. It’s better if you…”

Of course, he summarily dismisses my shoe-tying “wisdom” but eventually he does learn from doing it BOTH ways that I actually sometimes know stuff. But he had to get there all on his own.

A highlight from 2010 was when I shared a panel discussion with Kimberly Coleman and she said, “You make plans and God laughs.” I imagine God laughs a lot when She watches me insist on doing things my way too because She’s been saying, “Trust me! It’s easier THIS way.”

I remember Kim fondly when either me or my kids insist on “pushing rope.” I have a much greater compassion quotient for their desire to control their own destiny. And I’m slowly developing some self-compassion for the times I’ve chosen to summarily dismiss Divine Wisdom myself and at least learned, if but the hard way, that there is an easier way.

I’m wrapping up 2010 and putting a bow on it. It doesn’t look pretty right now but it feels really, really good.

What’s YOUR word for 2011?

I got mine in the wee hours of one morning but that’s a subject of an entirely separate post!

Happy New Year, my friend!

How to Manage Household Chores

Out of the blue, my 8 year-old declares, “I’m into chores now!” in that that slightly amusing way that only a tween girl can declare. So at our next outing to Target, she went in search of a chore chart. Then at home, she and her 6 year old brother went about the serious business of filling it out. (No sarcasm here. Really.)

This is serious. They are taking it seriously and so am I. After all, the more buy-in from Team Sharon, the more cooperation I’m going to have, right?

I heard a friend of mine say once, “You can’t get mad at your teen for not doing any chores if they’ve never had to do it before.” Good point.

Them: What should we put down?

Me: You could put down the chores you are good at and like to do.
(How’s that for Yoga Parenting?!)

Them: So how much do we get when we get all our stars?

Me: Huh?

Son: How many dollars?

Me: You don’t get paid for chores! You get a clean room, dishes to eat off of, and happy dogs.

(crickets)

Me: …and an extra 30 minutes of screen time, IF you each earn 3 stars a week.

Over the next two days, the boy vacuumed and put everything in the playroom away. The girl made the bed and fed the dogs. Together, they emptied the dishwasher. Wow!

I’m going to call this a successful lesson learned from Ann Jordan on responsibility. They took ownership of the whole thing and so far, it’s working.

I’d love to hear from YOU on how you manage chores in your house. But don’t say you do them all yourself!!! :) Leave me some pointers, will ya? … in the event that this is just a blissful “phase.”

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How to Get Rid of Clutter

clutterI have a two-pronged approach to clutter: 1) Get rid of the clutter you have and, 2) Don’t buy (yes, I said buy) new clutter. Easier said than done? Really? Assuming that you are the average person with the average kid/baby home (as in, not the ones that I hear about on TV that truly live amidst mountains of trash), I think a little dedication to a few tasks will go a long way to minimizing the clutter in your environment. And this, my friends, goes a long way in minimizing the clutter in your mind (or at least, that’s been my experience).

Get Rid of the Clutter You Have
Quite simply, throw everything out that you don’t need!
• Go through your closets and donate clothes you haven’t worn for a whole season or, organize a clothing swap with your girlfriends like my friend, Emma did in our neighborhood.

• Do the same for books, furniture, miscellaneous household items. If you are a pack rat, enlist the help of a friend who is NOT… like me! Pretend you are moving to a small apartment and have to pay extra for every box you bring.

• For random papers (this is the best!), get banker’s boxes, one for each room if you want, and label them “pre-2009.” Just toss EVERYTHING in there. Store the boxes. If you don’t touch them in a year, toss them. If it makes you feel better, wait 2-3 years and then toss them. The point is, the piles of papers everywhere will stop stressing you out.

Don’t Buy New Clutter
Once your home is de-clutterfied… keep it that way. I’m no Fly Lady. She’s got much more involved tips in this respect. But my philosophy is that “clutter” doesn’t walk into your house on two feet! I have a bit of a zero tolerance policy on clutter because I have limited storage/space (which I’m finding is truly a blessing in disguise). Did anyone catch Jerry Seinfeld’s bit on “stuff?” …how everything we buy is just a few steps away from “trash?” Soooo true! The shiny new small appliance first sits on the island, then in a cabinet, then in the basement, then in the garage, then in the dumpster! My point being, before you buy anything, keep in mind that when you buy any thing, you’re actually making a commitment to IT! You’re the one who will have to clean it and maintain it and store it! So either don’t complain about it later or just don’t buy it. You’ll be doing a good deed, not just for your home, family life and pocket book but also doing your bit to save the planet and ourselves! Really… watch this video called, The Story of Stuff if you don’t believe me (or just because… it’s really cool, albeit depressing!)

For all those things that seemingly walk into your home unassisted, diligently escort them out promptly. I make a habit of putting junk mail straight in the recycling bin from the mailbox. I go through all my kids papers daily to see which ones can be trashed and which ones go in the giant portfolio for posterity (until they move out and decide to toss them out themselves), and any junk Happy Meal toys never survive more than a week before surreptitiously disappearing into the trash bin.

I seem to be winning the war on clutter in my house. My car… on the otherhand… is another story!

Do you have any good anti-clutter tips?

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.