Yesterday I posted this picture on the Facebook page:
My mudroom had gotten out of control.
I knew exactly what the reactions would be because I have posted similar pictures in the past.
There would be three reactions.
First would be the people who would give me advice on how to solve this problem. The KonMari enthusiasts (I’m one of them by the way. I’m just still not there yet, obviously) would tell me to check her out. There would be book suggestions and other life changing suggestions.
I’m not knocking those. I appreciate them all.
But more on that in a minute.
Second would be the HELL NO people. The people who would tell me there is no way on Earth they would let their house look like that. Some would say it without judgment and tell me they just wouldn’t be able to function. Then there would be those who would imply my kids were self absorbed, irresponsible slobs and that I was a shitty mom for letting them get away with this.
Then there would be the people who would feel relieved that they weren’t the only ones who had rooms in their houses that looked like this, and they would genuinely thank me.
I was not disappointed. Or wrong.
I got all three reactions.
Before I get to the after pictures, because I cleaned the fuck out of that damn room yesterday, I just have a couple things to say.
Thank you to everyone who offered to help me. I really do appreciate your suggestions. And I am going to check some of them out.
But believe it or not, there is a system that works in this mudroom. There is a place for everything. And the kids know where those places are.
Obviously the system is flawed. And I’ll tell you what the flaws are.
First, my kids are fairly responsible and extremely independent.
They pack their own lunches, they are responsible for packing up their swim bags and baseball bags, they load and unload the dishwasher and clean the bathrooms and cut the grass.
And I know you’d never know it by looking at that picture, but they also fold and put away their own laundry. Usually.
So they aren’t heathens who expect me to wait on them hand and foot and run around picking up after them.
But we have two major problems.
The first is that while they know what they are supposed to do, they don’t always do it. And I have been awful with consistency. And as soon as I am lax about one thing, then everything goes downhill.
Kind of like the laundry.
If I skip one day of laundry things back up. And once I’m behind, it’s really easy to get more and more and more behind until things are out of control like they are in that top picture.
So the lack of consistency and helping the kids to remain accountable is a very big part of the problem.
The second is that I work every single afternoon and I don’t get home until 8:30. And most days I have to take all the kids with me, so 15 minutes after the little guys get off the bus I am shoving them into the car. And because I’m often running late, we skip the routine of what they should be doing, and then things snowball.
I need to be more organized and present when the kids come home. I need to stay consistent. And I need to hold the kids accountable. It wouldn’t take that big of a time investment each day to make that happen. And then we wouldn’t find ourselves in before picture territory again.
There is one more piece of the puzzle.
This isn’t about me threatening my kids within an inch of their lives and taking away every thing they’ve ever wanted.
This needs to be a whole family thing. Not just a mom thing.
And I’m not the only one who realizes this.
Yesterday when Number 5 came home, she walked in the house and said, “MOMMY! Did you do some cleaning today???”
She was thrilled. There’s a big difference in how you feel when you walk into a house that’s not a fucking shithole.
I told Number 5 I’d been cleaning in the mudroom all day, and then I told her we’d ALL need to work together to keep it that way, and she said, “Mommy! How about if we have a family meeting so we can figure out who can do what job? Can we have a family meeting this weekend?”
She gets it.
If we can sit down as a family and discuss what needs to be done in order to maintain order, come up with a list together, and then figure out together how we are going to keep this room neat, our chances of success are much higher.
So we are going to do that this weekend. I know that will help.
Now onto the after pictures.
I spent five hours in the mudroom yesterday.
I threw a whole bunch of crap away.
I washed all the winter coats, when through hats, gloves, scarves, etc, and put away all the winter stuff in the basement.
I cleaned off the top of the refrigerator. GROSS.
I cleaned out a cabinet in the back corner of the laundry room and discovered Number 4’s secret Walter White/Breaking Bad slime-making lab, and found the missing salt shaker, my cornstarch, two bottles of glue, baby powder, and a missing bottle of conditioner.
The slime lab has been disassembled.
I found a thermos that I was afraid to open (it had spaghetti and meatballs in it and wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be), I found a recorder (straight into the garbage), the missing reindeer food from last Christmas, and the source of a really disgusting smell (a water bottle full of milk-turned-cottage cheese).
I also found this:
Two baseball gloves, three pairs of fins, a missing iPod charger, the missing ball pump, and about 4,000 caps and goggles.
So…. all that stuff has been put in its proper place.
My mudroom is calm.
Now when you open the door instead of seeing this:
you see this:
When the kids hang up their coats and bags, instead of seeing this:
they see this:
And on the other side, instead of seeing this:
they see this:
Finally, when the kids walk into the laundry room/bathroom, instead of seeing this:
They see this:
I sorted and folded every piece of laundry, threw some clothes away, donated a bunch more, cut the super raggedy towels into rags, and put every single thing in its place.
So we are starting fresh.
It took a whole day, but I did it.
The real challenge isn’t cleaning it up though. It’s keeping it that way.
But if we all embrace the challenge as a family, then I’m pretty confident we can do it.