I have also figured something else out along the way. For about a year I have been dealing with wild mood swings. I am 42 years old and have been through two invitro fertilizations, and all that that implies. The drugs, the shots... There is one camp that says these drugs have lasting effects on our hormones, and one that says we are all crazy. (Well, the aforementioned camp does put it a little more nicely...) I firmly believe that these drugs, coupled with my age, are having an affect on my mood. But the weird moods started in Russia, when I was left all alone with my new son. So part of the issue was probably homesickness and missing my number one son. Then there was the whole post adoption depression and the year of attachment behavior issues. There was my leaving corporate America and my husband losing his job. So really, who knows which of the about a million reasons was responsible for my anguish. But I figured it out. Just the other day, it hit me.
I was watching my sweet husband steam mop the kitchen floor and I suddenly realized how relaxed I was. How peaceful. How, dare I say, happy. And I knew. My mood is directly linked to the cleanliness of my kitchen floor.
So great. Now I know. But here's where the other shoe drops. Hormones I can see a doctor for. Getting help from my family to keep our home clean? Not so easy. I have made lists, but no one reads them. (To their credit, only 1.5 of them can really read.) I have posted small lists in each room. I have made hand written lists every day. I have texted and emailed lists. nothing. works. at. all. nothing. I have asked nicely. I have asked sarcastically. I have cried. I have had total melt downs. And I repeat. nothing. works. at. all. sigh.
Figuring out an answer to this problem is important to me. I feel that it is my responsibility to provide a calm and peaceful atmosphere to all those who enter our home. I make sure the entry way lights are on before my husband walks through the door after work. I keep the flame less candles burning on the mantle in the evening, helping to set a calm tone for before bedtime play. I play quiet music during dinner. Mother of boys, we know the secret. We must let them run and jump and scream and be joyful and messy, but we also must help them find ways to slow down and find their peaceful inner selves. And that goes for myself and my sweet husband as well. We are calmer when the house is pulled together. We are more at peace with each other when we can relax and be together without total chaos going on around us. So believe me when I say that I can't truly emphasis how important this is to me.
I have tried every system I can find, and created a few of my own. And each and every one of them would work if it were just me. But it's not just me and I have to face the fact that I live with boys. (Does that line remind anyone else of Friends? Sometimes I feel like crying just like Monica did at the thought of moving in with a dreaded boy.) But I knew I couldn't keep banging my head against the wall. And I knew that it was my place to teach at least two of my three boys how to be responsible and organized, and, well, clean. I also know that it is just easier if I do everything myself. But here's the thing - I work full time too. I do the laundry and the cooking and the shopping. I manage our schedules and provide a large amount of the taxi driving for the boys. My sweet husband works full time. And then he works some more. And then some more. He takes care of the yard. He does at least 80% of the boys' baths and some of the errands. He is busy too. But at 9:00 at night, after the boys are in bed and the house is quiet, I do not want to be cleaning. To me, that is unacceptable.
Before I quit my job, when Alex first came home, we had help with cleaning our house. With someone coming in every two weeks to totally clean the entire house I was easily able to keep up with the day to day stuff. And I didn't need any help from my family. But those days are over and now we have two boys and I need help. I still have my household management binder and I still follow flylady. But that is just for me- I can't expect my boys to have a clue about any of that. So I moved my system to a location they can't miss and I simplified it.
For $15.00 I purchased clear plastic magnetic photo holders- I love these photo holders because they lay very flat on the side of the fridge, which is great for a small space. Six of these fit the space on the side of my fridge nicely. The top row shows our tasks for the day, week, and month. The bottom row shows my boys helping my family lists. I think it is important to not call these chores. No one likes to do chores. But every child needs to learn the importance of helping his or her family.
The bottom middle photo holder holds our family fun. This is the list of family activities we plan to do each month or season. I started this a few years back because I found we were missing seasonal activities that we really would have enjoyed. I used to tape this list to my kitchen cupboard but now it has found a home on my household management wall.
A colorful dry erase marker works well to mark off the tasks as they are completed and the frames wipe clean with a damp cloth. Your lists will be your lists, of course, suited to your family's needs. Check out my lists here. This system is so simple and so easy to make changes to your lists!
Now for the million dollar question. Is it working? Well, we have been using it for about a week, maybe two. And I have been diligent and vocal in checking off the tasks. My sons have jumped on board and are thrilled to be checking items off their list. Their shoes are almost always in the shoe bin by the front door. The big five year old's bed is almost always made. They both LOVE scrubbing their assigned sinks and they fight over the dry erase marker when it's time to check the list. My sweet husband? Not so much, yet. But he is hearing me talk about the lists, he is watching me check items off. The day will come, I know, that he will walk up to the lists, pick a task, and complete it. Just like life, this is a work in progress. But unlike other systems, this one is visable, easily changed, and provides much needed motivation for at least two of my three boys. It's a start...