I've read some of the greatest organizational tips out there. I've watched the reports, read the magazines, even bought a few books. I've tried some of them too. Make big batches of food on a weekend and freeze in individual containers for easy lunches and dinners later. Get kids to gather all needed school/sports supplies for the next day, the night before and have their bags ready to go by the back door. Start a cooking group with friends and each make a 7 serving dish to trade. You’ll have meals for a week and you only cooked once. I love it!
Here's the problem - I live a life where none of this works. I've done the batch cooking and freezing. Then the freezer gets overcrowded and I forget about it. The meals are long forgotten until I am desperately looking for that lone ice cream bar at 11pm at night, that I KNOW is in there and find the year old taco tostada. (I found the ice cream bar btw, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief).
I also did the backpacks by the door tip, where I told the boys it was time to prep for tomorrow and shuffled behind them as they gathered their needs. I even came up with a cool name for it - B2D2 - Backpacks 2 Door 2night. See what I did there? I made it all cool and 'Star Wars' like (insert pre-teen eye roll here). The backpacks usually did make it to the back door, sans needed papers, which were often left on the kitchen chair (and one time in the fridge, when son got out O.J and absentmindedly replaced it with his homework). Their toys, gum and Pokémon cards made it into the backpacks tho! But homework folders and books often went missing and once were found outside in the garden. My boys don't even go out in the garden (ewww bugs - they are working on being a bit more manly), so I have no explanation for that one.
My favorite was the cooking club because that sounded so fun! But then I realized I would need to find 7 friends who 1) liked to cook 2) wanted to cook and 3) had time to cook. I only have 3 good friends and after repeated texts, creating an awesome Facebook "event" for the club and finally *gasp* an actual phone call, I was left with a lot of phone tag messages, 2 maybes on FB and one "Can we just get together for Happy Hour drinks this night instead?"
I tried to get organized and then found when things did not turn out like I envisioned, I was at a loss. I was a blithering shell of a woman, wallowing in my guilt for my failing to be able to do it all.
So I decided to do something that might make this crazy ride called life and parenting, a bit smoother: I stopped. I took a vow to stop reading the articles, stop watching the reports and buying the books. I even went so far as to write my vow on paper and tape it to my bathroom mirror:
“I will stop reading about how to get organized. I will not buy another bin/wall hanging/binder etc. to assist in getting organized. I will stop beating myself up for not being organized. I will stop feeling like a failure – I will enjoy life.”
I’m not saying I’ve given up on keeping things together, trying to keep a tidy house, cooking yummy meals with love and helping my kids learn to be neat and responsible. It’s more that I’ve given up on beating myself up when it does not go the way the books tell me it will. When it all falls apart because I’m tired, or someone is sick, or I just plain don’t want to cook, clean or check bags.
You know what? It’s actually helped! I’m happy more, which my boys love. I smile more, which I love. I am no longer hanging my head in shame, if dinner is slammed together grilled cheese and soup from a can. It’s food - which we eat, at a messy table and laugh, together. I’m ok with my boys possibly (ok, probably) not having all of their stuff together in the morning; a good life lesson for them that THEY need to learn. I realized I have completed my education and it’s up to them now (they’re old enough and most importantly CAPABLE enough) to ensure they have what they need for school. I give reminders but I don’t double check. They’ll learn.
And I am sure someday, their future wives will thank me for raising them to be accountable. Or maybe they won’t learn, in which case I’ll invite their wives to my maybe clean house for a lovely glass of wine. I’ll maybe feed them a wondrous dish I made the month before, froze and reheated quickly. And maybe I’ll invite them to join my cooking club.
Or we’ll just enjoy the wine.