Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's Up With This, Belinda?

What is this thing, anyway? Well, I'll tell you what it's not. It's not a "how-to" blog. Not how to cook, how to clean, how to organize, how to de-clutter, how to save money, etc. These topics will be addressed here, though, because what this IS, is my attempt at assigning some credibility to myself, in a desperate attempt to GET IT TOGETHER, starting NOW. And "NOW" will be repeated every day. At least that's the idea.

I'm about to set out on a learning quest, and if I ever get to the end, I'll have become my mother, and then I can stop. But until that unlikely day, I'll be steadily trying. And I'm journaling my struggle here, because in making it public I'll hopefully feel more motivated to keep the personal growth going, and also because there may be (God help you) more out there like me, who go through these same challenges.

So, here's the deal. I'm a working mom, married, with one child, a preschooler. I'm tired just about all the time. Dinner is a daily angst-fest. I come home from work and errands, with Bella, exhausted and weary, and I've gotten to where the words, "What's for dinner?" make me want to HURT SOMEONE. And that's not good for anyone. Especially Alex.

Similarly, the house. It is a wreck. And that's putting it kindly. I just can't keep up with it, and I really don't understand why. From your comments over here, I'm starting to put together that this whole thing, this "keeping of a home" is all about PLANNING. And ORGANIZATION. And HAVING A REGULAR ROUTINE. Gee, just took me until I was 40 years old to catch on. Now, whether or not I can put any of this into practice is another thing altogether, and that will be the fun (FUN! There will be FUN here!) of this journal.

Want more? There is a mountain of laundry occupying most of the central portion of my house. And it's not like a temporary thing--it's there ALL THE TIME. Things are clean, but they never seem to be put away. Ahem.

Dishes? Yeah. When they get like this, it's time to do something desperate. And that's pretty much when I make my first appearance in the kitchen in a dish-washing capacity.
Aftermath / This is Today 20

Hey, stick around--there are sure to be MORE embarrassing photos of clutter, filth and squalor! Well, maybe. Unless I get leprosy, like that time on The Simpsons when Homer and Bart thought they had it from living in a messy house.

I would VERY much appreciate comments and especially tips from those of you who seem to have this sort of thing under control--you're everywhere, and YOU CAN HELP ME! I'm clueless.

What I'll be focusing on to start, hence the recipes posted so far, is meal-planning. On a recent post of mine at t'other blog, I got SO many great suggestions in the comments, and all of them boiled down to MENU PLANNING. So that is what I'm trying to do now, and I'll be posting something about every day's dinner, even if only briefly, so that I can keep track of what I'm doing, be accountable to myself for continuing to do it, and hopefully get suggestions from some of you on ways I could make it better.

Because right now, there just aren't enough hours in the day...and even when there ARE, I'm not making optimal use of them! What sort of madness is this? You tell me. I'll see you tomorrow for dinner. Lord, help me as I try to GET. IT. TOGETHER.


Lauredhel said...

Wow. If these meals are you "not together", I kinda dread your total domestic goddessosity when you do.

Belinda said...

Ah, but unless they continue, they are ANOMALIES. Next one up will be the cheated Chinese meal, from a mix.

Avalon said...

I guess I wonder, outloud to myself, how much more " together" you want to get? You have a terrific husband, a beautiful, smart and happy daughter, gorgeous Poodles, healthy work, you teach, you train, you groom, you listen, you do thoughtful things for your family. If the housework and the meals are not domestic goddess what? You are focusing your time and energy on the right things.

Maybe, just maybe you need to cut yourself a little slack. I think you are doing terrific.....dirty dishes and all.

chicken said...

I think I love you! It's ok, I live too far away to stalk...
I am planning to play along at home with you! I am the mother of 2 elementary school aged boys who are active in just about everything a boy can be active in. I sometimes take a day off of work just to enjoy the peace and quiet...and get the house work done. I would love to bring organization to our house, but for the love of God, I don't know where to start!! Everyday is much of the same...up at 5:30, shower and such, wake reluctant boys, dress, scream, take dog out, scream, drag boys and dog to the car, more yelling, work, home, yelling,dinner,scream, homework, football practice, mild freak out, bath, snack, bed...lather rinse repeat. If you can help me fit housework in the mix somewhere, I will love you and pronounce you Queen. Your birthday will be a national holiday...ok. I get carried away! Can't wait to make your fried chicken!! :)

Severely Malled said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rickey! said...

Organization, what is that? First of all, no one is really organized. When you go over to someone's house, and they weren't expecting you and it looks flawless, they are OCD freaks. I want a house that looks lived in, I want to kick toys out of my way and scoot the dog off the sofa, I don't care.
And put those kids to work people, don't let them free load. I washed, by hand, dishes when I was six. I could make a full country breakfast by 8 and I could vacummn and cleam my room too. That's what y'all need to do, teach your kids how to do stuff. Not only does it lighten the load on Mom, it gives them invaluable life skills. I don't know how many guys I taught how to do laundry in college, it was a lot. And the husbands can chip in, get a chore board, then everyone knows what they're doing...
And I'm so making both those recipes it's not even funny

Erin said...

First off - your kitchen is no different than at least half the kitchens (probably more) of working families. Chores get put off, it happens. You're so hard on yourself!

I do think the blogging-for-control idea is a great one, though, and might have to try it. Who knows, I might actually get some of the chores around here done. Or not. Maybe I'll just read about your transformation and envy the domestic goddess that you've become. We'll see.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

Belinda said...

avalon--this is so far from "perfectionism," you have no idea. I'm living in chaos. I can't even believe I'm admitting this in public, especially since my friends and family know where my blogs are. But we've lived in this house for over a year, and have yet to officially have anyone over. Not even for dinner, to watch a ballgame. Nothing. The only time other people have been here were during my surgery last year, when our mothers came to stay, and do you know what they did while they were here? CLEANED. It's time to grow up.

chicken--I can so identify with your typical day (even, unfortunately, the yelling), because--and I really believe this--my environment being in chaos puts my MIND, my emotions, in chaos. And I KNOW that it's bad for my husband. Right here, I have a thing that I can do to help manage his illness (bipolar disorder), and I'm not doing it. Such a simple thing, but seemingly so far out of my reach.

Rickey --Oh, we are having a chore chart! We are SO having a chore chart. We make Bella do what she can, though it's a struggle, since she has that disorder *I* had at her age, where you're told to do something, wander off to do it, and wind up in a closet somewhere building a fort out of towels instead.

erin- the day *I* become a domestic goddess, you can fall over dead. Ain't gonna happen. I am SO not looking for perfection here. Not at ALL. Just trying to lose the feeling of dread and shame at the thought of someone "dropping in"...or even when I know they're coming for days!

Chair said...

Is Bella interested in rewards?

Fortunately Theya is still wee enough to be thrilled with just a hug in return for doing a 'chore' and I know Bella's bigger and probably has better things to do than help out. But if you let her know how much it means to you to have her help, she might be more willing than if you use a more Do It Or You're In Trouble approach. (This is not my own advice, it was given to me by a friend (who works with disabled pre-school children) and she offered some suggestions to help prepare T for when The Bean comes -or to at least help her feel like she's still very important.)

Kids wanna feel like they're a part of things, right? Feel like they had a role in making things go well? Could she set the table at least? Totally lay on the praise when she does, and, if nothing else, a dime to go into the piggy bank that can later be spent on Something Special. We figure T's going to want an allowance at some point anytime, so, since we're such hard asses, we're starting now to give her a dime when she does a 'chore' so she can learn that money, toys, rewards are EARNED. I also make a point of letting her know how happy it makes me when she helps out and it's so cute to see her literally puffing with pride for a job well done, the little monkey. It feels sort of sinister to play on her little ego but it works and I've even noticed that she's more interested in helping out with all sorts of chores lately -she has now become the Official Lint Trap Cleaner and Inserter Of Dryer Sheet when I do laundry. At first she was just in my way, but now she actually IS helping me, and it's pretty trippy.

I dunno if this is any help, I could totally be talking outta my ass here. I'm certain you will find what works for your family and I admire your determination to get things together! You go, girl!

Belinda said...

You're right--she wants to help, but I can't send her away to do something apart from what I'm doing. She wants to be a PART of whatever I am doing, which is really only a problem during dinner prep, because our kitchen was apparently built to scale for cats.

Lots of good ideas, and I REALLY thank you for taking the time to put them here for me. Bless your heart!

Carolyn J. said...

I'm in the "cut self slack" school too. At the end of your life, you won't wish you'd kept up with the dishes more.

That said, I feel your pain 'cause sometimes EVERY DISH I own is dirty, and you have to eat soup out of your hands. OK maybe not that bad, but close.

Honestly, Cooking Light magazine saved our asses on the meal front. Try it for a couple of months. The ingredients aren't too hard to find, and subbing is easy. There's a whole section on 20 minute meals. I just cut out the keepers and slap them in a big binder I keep in my kitchen, then pull that out at menu-planning time.

ex.libris said...

Oh, Belinda. I can relate. I still struggle, too, but I've learned that if I stick to my basic routine I can function. Of course sometimes I get really sick and that all goes out the window. Also, it's just me and Anthony. It's got to be a whole lot harder with a child.
There's a book that has really helped me with this. It was written in the '80s, and I'm not sure how easy it is to find anymore. I'll send you the info on good reads.

Poppy Buxom said...

Belinda, good for you! I've been in the same boat--suffering from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.)

I've done FlyLady and Don Aslett and adore _How Clean is Your House_ and right now I'm reading _It's All Too Much_.

We're drowning in clutter and if it weren't for a weekly cleaning service, our house would be condemned. I'm working on it and things are certainly better.

Just don't go into my basement, heh heh heh.

Creating a home you'd be happy to let people see is fantastic. Think of what you'll be teaching Bella. And no, I don't mean you'll turn her into Susie Homemaker. I mean that you'll teach her to envision and live the life she wants to live.