Breaking news! A legitimate source has informed the staff here at Soul Wings Yoga that a local mom has called it quits, refusing to clean up the messes left all over the house by her able-bodied children…
“I’ve been cleaning up after these kids for 16 years. I’m done being the maid to smart, healthy, perfectly capable children. I’m going to spend more time pursuing my own interests and self-care.”
“Who does this mom think she is, throwing her supermom-sized obligations and responsibilities to the wind?!”
I’m the mom who has officially resigned her post. I’ve threatened it before, but as of this afternoon, there is no going back. Especially since I dropped off most of our dishes at the local Goodwill donation drop site.
Okay, let me back up a week or so…
Spring Break was finally upon us. The sun was playing hide-and-seek through the puffy clouds. I was dreaming of wearing my favorite Birkenstock sandals, confident that my toes would be safe from rain puddles. I punched the “brew” button on the coffee pot as I waltzed my way through the kitchen toward my kids’ rooms. They were still curled up in their beds. Aw… I couldn’t blame them… it was Spring Break after – what the… what is that smell?
(sniffs around the room like a blood hound)
Is that an apple core shoved down the heat vent register?! Okay… good feelings gone…
(rips blanket off kid) “HEY! VACATION IS OVER! CLEAN YOUR ROOM!”
Yep, vacation was O-V-E-R for these kids. Well, at least for the next few days. I made a deal with them: if they could get their rooms in tip-top-shape in two days time, I’d give them each a candy bar, and let them pick whatever fun thing they wanted to do… as long as that fun thing was a road trip over the mountains to visit my sister. Ha!
Let me tell you something… I was stunned, STUNNED, to discover that my kids have room cleaning skills. Like, “I can see the carpet again, and hey, the funky smell is gone” skills. Each of them sorted their laundry and toys, threw away old school papers and projects until the “donate” and “trash” piles overflowed the trunk space of my car. It. Was. Awesome.
And now their secret is out.
All these years I’ve been walking through the house at bed time, picking up backpacks, jackets, crayons, socks, half-filled cups of milk or water from every room and off every flat surface in my house. It didn’t matter how many times I asked them to pick up after themselves. It didn’t matter how many “family meetings” we had. It didn’t matter that I designed and printed multiple “chore” posters throughout the years. All I needed was a few candy bars. Haha!
A few candy bars and the threat of having me clean their rooms for them. I was fully prepared to leave them with a blanket on their beds, a pair of pants and a t-shirt in their drawers, and nothing else. They knew I was serious, too. They’ve heard me vacuum up enough Legos to know I meant business that morning. I am proud of them for doing the work.
“Hey, what about donating all of your dishes?”
Oh yeah. That happened after suffering through yet another argument over whose turn it was to load the dishwasher. A huge pile had been left on the counter overnight, because the kid assigned dish duties the day before didn’t complete his chore. I became frustrated, and bitchily shoved them out the door toward the bus stop. I returned home pissed off about having to clean the entire kitchen before heading to work. I could have left it for after school, but there was a nasty smell coming from somewhere, and I can’t tolerate weird smells lurking around the house all day, funking up my space and slapping me in the face when I return home.
During my drive home that afternoon, I had a thought…
I have been reading about minimalism, and the idea of owning less stuff has been so appealing to me lately, especially after helping my kids purge their bedrooms during Spring Break. I have been slowly, room-by-room, decluttering my own stuff… why not implement this “less stuff” policy throughout the entire house?
So, that’s what I did… starting in the kitchen.
Everyone in the household is responsible for the following:
– 1 big plate
– 1 small plate
– 1 cereal bowl
– 1 mug
– 1 water glass
– 1 spoon
– 1 fork
– 1 knife
I did save a few place settings to use on the rare occasion that we have dinner guests, but everything else went to Goodwill that same afternoon. It felt scary and liberating.
Why is letting go of our stuff so hard to do? We don’t actually need 12 place settings or 17 novelty coffee mugs, but my mind was so afraid to give away the extras. It’s not just my attachment to dishes that gives me anxiety either… my shoes, clothes, books… Oh Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, not my precious booooks!!!! I don’t need an entire walk-in closet filled to the rafters with stuff, but I have one… for now…
“I’m coming for you, Closet!”