Monday, February 9, 2009

What I Learned This Week: The Anatomy of a Blizzard

"Cleaning up after children is like shoveling in a blizzard."

-- Anonymous

Ever feel that way? That's where I've been lately. Toys are strewn everywhere. Laundry is piled up to the ceiling. There seems to be no end to the dishes. No matter how much I manage to clean up, there's always another mess waiting for me.

Last Saturday, hubs took the kids out to play, and I spent two hours cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. It was sparkling-beautiful by the time I was finished.

And then, the family returned for lunch.

In 10 minutes, I watched as a whirlwind tore through my beautiful kitchen. Coats were shed, food taken out, dishes piled up. When it was all said and done, I felt like crying.

Sometimes it's hard to shake the feeling that I'm losing the battle and the war.

So, I've been giving a lot of thought to blizzards this week. And, I've come to a few realizations that have made coping with these small "life blizzards" a little easier.

1. Blizzards last only for a season. Unless you live in Antarctica, blizzards happen in winter. Then, they disappear for the rest of the year. In much the same way, the blizzards of chaos overtaking my home these days are also temporary. With three kids age 6 and under, I happen to be receiving a lot of snowfall right now. But, it helps to remember it won't last forever.

2. When the weather is extreme, accept the fact that life won't be perfect. Blizzards bring sub-zero temps, wicked wind, messy roads and slow travel time. That's the nature of a blizzard. When I'm facing a "life blizzard," there are going to be uncomfortable moments. There are going to be moments of inconvenience. I'm not going to be able to accomplish all I want/need to do. It's the nature of the beast. I need to stop fighting it and temporarily lower my standards. Then, go back and review #1.

3. Before you roll up your sleeves, wait for a break in the storm. This might be obvious but, overwhelmed with the chaos, I find myself breaking this rule. I wouldn't try to clear the driveway at the exact moment snow is falling the hardest. That would be counter-productive. In the same way, when chaos is the order of the day at my house, that is not the time to be tackling a big organizational project (unless I want a one-way trip to insanity.) It's best to have my husband take the kids for the day, hire a babysitter, or schedule a play date at someone else's house. Then, use that quiet time to get things cleared away.

4. Sometimes, you just have to set aside your shovel and jump in. We don't get a lot of snow in Georgia. So, on the odd occasion when a storm does come our way, the last thing we think about is clearing the driveway. Instead, we head out to play. Remember #1? Blizzards don't last forever. There are times when, really, it just pays to embrace the chaos. My kids won't always be this young. They won't always want to play with me. When I scan my family room and see 500 toys strewn across the floor, I can bemoan the mess, or I can take the opportunity to temporarily "give up," jump in and play with my kids. I can't let my need to "fix the chaos" overwhelm me to the point where I can't occasionally cut loose and have fun.

So, that's what I've learned this week. Interested in what other folks learned? Head over to Musings of a Housewife for the What I Learned This Week Carnival.


Darcie - Such The Spot said...

Great analogy Michelle. Really. Right on the money.

As for #4 - we're in the same boat here in Arizona. And we have snow on the ground today as a matter of fact. School went on as planned buy the kids and I are skipping it, and snuggling up with hot cocoa instead!

jen@odbt said...

Great post. Many times I can't past the blizzard when it's happening to realize the beauty that follows. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy.

Emily said...

Great post! We've had so much snow this year and there def comes a point where you have to just throw up your hands and accept it for what it is!

mah-meeee said...

this is such a great reminder for me. sometime i just need to cut loose and have fun. i very often try to organize and clean and organize all the time.

thank you!

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

This is excellent, Michelle. It certainly sounds like we're in the same place right now. This post is wonderful. I should probably print it and post it on my fridge where I can review it frequently.

barefootinhighheels said...

Great post, Michelle!

But sometimes MY problem is I'm too apt to jump in and join the fun . . . then the chaos/cleaning NEVER gets done! :) oh well -- we're having fun.

Hairline Fracture said...

Oh, I so needed to read this right now. Thank you for some much-needed perspective!

Musings of a Housewife said...

Michelle, this post is SPOT ON. Thanks for sharing! :-)

Musings of a Housewife said...

And one more thing. I think your design is one of my top 5 favorites I've ever done. I hope you never want to change it. (No pressure there, or anything! SNORT!!)

AudreyO said...

I'm smiling as I read through your post. I love a clean house. Oh my gosh, I love that clean look and smell. But no matter how hard I try, as you've experienced, within 10 seconds of perfectly clean we now have a mess of one kind of another. For me, we have a dog who likes to leave his hair all over. I just finish vaccuming and there's more of his hair LOL. It's so fun to get to "visit" the blogs from Bloggy Carnival now that I have time and can read and post.

Kellie said...

Such a great analogy, and I love the practical application.

Jane said...

I know exactly what you mean - my children are messier than ever.

Vanessa said...

Thanks for a much needed reminder ... again!

Threeundertwo said...

What a great post. I hate to say it, but I think my pre-teens are worse now than when they were toddlers. *sigh*