June is over, and I didn’t quite make several of my goals. I’m feeling kind of OK with this, however. First of all, I was really, really sick this month. Like, doubled over in pain, trying not to cry sick. We also traveled to the Nevada/California border where I managed to entertain two small people in a strange town/hotel room for four days (while still very sick). We hit up two children’s museums, ate at a quirky place called “Heidi’s,” and saw taxidermied Dr. Seuss animals.
Rather than focusing on what I didn’t get done, though, I wanted to share some kind of cool stuff that’s been coming out of this whole Big List project.
As you may or may not already know, part of the list is devoted to problems that I continually encounter. There are things that make my life more difficult or annoying on a daily basis, some that pop up in my work on a regular basis, and yet others that only show up once in a while, but always cause my shoulders to slump in defeat when I have to deal with whatever it is YET AGAIN.
I mentioned in a previous post that one of the things I’m discovering through this process is that the best way to solve a problem is to pay attention to it. For me, paying attention started with making a list of things that tend to crop up again and again. When I would find myself using words like “always” (Dot always uses half a roll of tape, and it drives me crazy!) or “never” (Ugh, Rob never puts away the coffee press!) I would pay attention to what was being said and then write it down. The goal was to come up with a list of irritations that I might just be able to remove from my life. Of course, that meant that instead of whining about what was bothering me and being a martyr, I would need to actually come up with solutions.
I’ve had various levels of success. Some of the things on the list likely don’t have a feasible solution, and I may just need to learn how to live with them. For others, the obvious solution is that it will stop when my children are older, and I likely have to live with those, too.
Still, there are a few problems from that list that I’ve been able to solve by simply putting in a little brain power instead of being annoyed and then moving on. Once I got into this problem-solving mode, I also found that some solutions were popping into my head without me even trying. This is great news, as I think it shows that my thinking is getting clearer and more focused on the right things, i.e., what I want, rather than what I don’t want.
Here are a couple of the ongoing annoying problems, some of which I’ve actually solved.
Problem: The coffee press. I don’t drink coffee, and I absolutely hate cleaning up the whole coffee ground mess. I’ve always been of the opinion that I just shouldn’t be expected to clean up the coffee situation. Unfortunately, the person in this house who drinks coffee is not all that great about cleaning it up, either. He’ll make a nice pot of coffee on Saturday morning and then blissfully leave the coffee press, full of grounds, on the counter to mold until the next weekend when he decides to make more. It drives me nuts, and has for a DECADE.
Solution: Out of the blue one day, it occurred to me that it didn’t really matter where the coffee press was as it turned putrid. My frustration came from seeing it sitting there day after day, getting my feathers all ruffled. So, I picked it up off the counter and put it up on the shelf where it belongs. It was still full of grounds and cold coffee, but that’s not really my problem, is it? Why does it have to sit there and mock me as it grows fungus? It turns out that I can just put it away and not even have to think about it until the next time it gets left out and I put it away full again.
Problem: Dot gets great joy out of putting her own brown sugar on her oatmeal in the morning. Unfortunately, I had no idea how much she was actually using. This is a problem, as she seems to have some adverse reactions to sugar…plus, I just kind of felt like I wasn’t doing my job by not monitoring her sugar intake.
Solution: OK, this is incredibly simplistic, but it goes to show that sometimes all you really need to do is take a moment to think, rather than rushing through your routine and wishing something was different. I took a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon and put it into the brown sugar jar. When she has oatmeal, I measure out a spoonful and put it into a little bowl (being sure to spread it out so it looks like a lot), and set it next to her oatmeal.
Problem: Can’t seem to keep matching sets of baby socks.
Solution: I actually wrote a whole post about this, but the brainstorm was to buy two lingerie bags, one of which hangs on the nursery hamper at all times. When laundry day comes along, the whole thing gets tossed into the wash, with no opportunity for single socks to pull a Houdini. It’s worked quite well so far, and I’m thinking about getting a set of bags for everyone in the house.
Problem: We have a lot of art supplies stored in a hutch in our downstairs hallway. Unfortunately, the hutch gets covered with junk because it’s a horizontal surface in our house, and that’s what happens where there’s a space that junk could potentially reside. Anyway, hubby had gotten into the habit of tossing a variety of things on there, and they blocked the doors and made it really frustrating every time I had to open them (which is several times a day).
Solution: To be honest, I’m not totally sure why this worked, but I asked Rob to stop putting stuff there and told him why. It’s been a few weeks now, and he’s still refraining from putting stuff there most of the time. Who knew it would be that easy?
Problem: We have three boxes on the floor of our entryway closet. Theoretically, each is supposed to hold the shoes of one family member. In reality, however, they get all mixed up, Rob puts a bunch of other stuff in there, and every time I want to put shoes on my kids, I still have to hunt all around the house because for some reason, only one of each pair seems to ever make it into the box. The fact that there is no longer a door on the closet is also added incentive to keep things tidy in there.
Solution: This is kind of a big one, and there will be pictures later because it’s a small part of a much larger project. But, today I assembled the Martha Stewart entryway bench that will be an important part of my entryway makeover. It has three drawers in it, each of which will hold a few pairs of shoes. That means that everyone has to choose a limited number of shoes that “belong” in that entryway closet, and everything else goes in their personal closets. Much less stuff = much less time spent searching through stuff.
Problem: Every time I turn around, the girls have dragged all of the baby blankets out of the closet. I pick up and fold baby blankets a hundred times a day! I’ve tried to find somewhere else to keep them, but they are sort of in the best possible place; on top of a dresser in the closet. Oh, and not only do they drag all the blankets out, but they also don’t close the closet door. They also go through the dresser drawers and I end up having to put away an entire stash of baby bottles or outgrown shoes and hats. Grr.
Solution: This just came to me a couple of evenings ago, and I haven’t done it yet, but my plan is to put Velcro strips way up high that will keep the sliding doors from being opened.
There’s still tons of stuff on my list, but the fact that I’ve removed these little sources of frustration from my day-to-day life is actually pretty exciting to me.