I’d Kill For That Nursery-Cleaning Mary Poppins Scene.

Stop trying to put away the baby.

I have an issue.

Rewind for a sec- I have many issues.

Okay, fast forward back to where we were: I have one specific issue of which I shall expound upon today.

I get overwhelmed easily. And when my level of whelm is through the roof, I become less than pleasant to live with.

Take my house, for instance. (Please.) There are very few people who have not heard me whine about keeping this warehouse o’ toys clean. And I realize that, for the most part, a goodly deal of the possessions within this house are here at my request. Or at the request of people that I have directly created. (Peej, for his part, owns a tattered knapsack full of Sega games and a glass baby mug.)

But I have never been able to work in a room that wasn’t organized. When I was an Admissions intern at Hampshire College, I would rearrange office supplies. When home on break, I’d sort my Dad’s CD collection- which I could see peripherally from the living room where I’d write papers. While working at my folks’ restaurant, their kitchen would boast the neatest line of potato bins (unwashed, washed, chopped).

It’s no different now, except that I work for two little girls who are a nice blend of whirling dervishes and gigantic Spin Arts. Holding ripped bags of cornflakes.

And while I’ve gotten quite good at writing in [unexpected] fifteen minute spurts on piles of laundry and willing myself to do projects with the girls without first mopping/dusting/organizing whatever room we’re in, I kept thinking that there had to be a better way. And now I’ve found it. And it’s embarrassingly [for me] simple and ridonkulously [for anyone, really] easy.

I plugged reminders into my phone.

Sure, things like dishes and laundry need to be done (and done and done and done) every day. Because miniature clothing expands to epic sizes in the washing machine. It just does. And every evening, without fail, Peej and I get to do the after-bedtime food, floor, toy, and surface bulldozer game. But now, once a day, I get a reminder for that day’s weekly task. And sure, the bathrooms get dirty Every. Single. Day. But unless it’s Wednesday (or unless something unmentionable happens), I don’t have to stress about how dirty the bathrooms are, oh my GOD they’re so dirty until the next time I get that reminder.

Okay, maybe this is coming off crazier in print. But the result is that, at the end of each day, the house is relatively in shape and won’t make a visitor dirtier for being in any of the rooms. Which frees me up to actually enjoy being with my kids. And to not feel guilty about working on my book (which currently boasts a four page outline. Maybe I should organize that.)

I recently read an essay in Martha Stewart Living (and yeah, I set reminders to tear through old magazines as well- you laugh, but I’m finally reading ’em) about a woman and her quest for an organized life. I identified with many parts of it, but especially the section where she admitted that sometimes she swept toys away from her kids before they were fully done playing with them. (Guilty.)

I don’t wanna be that way. But as much as I try to just Be In The Moment (and I do, I really, do), it’s so flippin’ nice when things are just roughly where they’re supposed to go. I really crave order and folded shirts and markers that haven’t lost caps and counters one thousand percent free of salmonella.

So far, this system has worked for about two weeks. Things look a tiny bit cleaner every evening- and morning. (I’m still so rotten at mornings. A dirty house in the morning can set me off for months.) And I’d like to say that, even more than a non-temper-tantrum-inducing home, this new method has yielded a gentler Keely.

Cue: P.J. waving a miniature pennant with Happy Wife emblazoned on it.

Now picture him waving it way harder.

Okay, P.J., that’s enough.



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