About a week ago, I was interviewed by someone writing for a parenting publication.
Because I’m a parenting expert, duh.
It was news to me too, but I did my best to play along.
I was ridiculously nervous before the call. I made sure my kids were parked in front of some really engaging TV (My Little Pony, not the usual Sesame Street), put on an extra layer of deodorant, locked my bedroom door, and sat staring at my phone as it ticked mercilessly on towards detonation: 9:30am.
The phone rang. The screen read: Big Fancy City, Far Away, and my adrenal glands kicked into gear, screaming: THIS IS IT! DON’T BE AN IDIOT. REMEMBER, THIS WOMAN COULD CALL DCS!
Evidently, Karen had been taxed with writing a piece for new moms filled with advice from experienced moms. “Experienced” felt like a euphemism, but for what, I had no idea. Poor woman had been turned onto me because of this blog I guess, though how you could read Life in the Circus and think I have anything to offer other than sympathy, is beyond me.
She wanted tips on organization. “How,” she asked, “do you stay organized with FIVE small children? You must have systems in place, right?”
Oh, yes. I have systems.
I told her how I keep all of the little girls’ clothes matched by outfits, in drawers according to size. No shirt drawer and pants drawer for me, no sir. Everything is ready to go… tops and bottoms all together. See?
I might have failed to mention that it usually takes about a week for the clean clothes to make it this far, so in the meantime, it looks like this:
Then I told sweet Karen all about how we deal with shoes in our house. See, we have this lovely shoe cabinet from Ikea that’s installed right by the front door. When the kids come in, they know to put their shoes into the cabinet immediately.
Isn’t it pretty?
If course, just because the kids KNOW to put their shoes in the cabinet doesn’t mean that they actually PUT their shoes in the cabinet. It’s really more of a magnetic field for shoes than it is any true container. That’s probably why it actually looks like this:
But Karen was oohing and ahhing and thinking I had some idea what in the hell I was talking about, so she moved on to school supplies. “How do you keep up with all the backpacks and lunch boxes?” she asked.
I told her it was easy as long as you have a plan. We use a laundry basket to tote the twin’s items to school. Everything fits neatly and it’s so much easier to carry one basket than two of everything.
See what I mean?
Besides, it keeps them from being lost among all the other crap that covers the entry table.
Stands out, doesn’t it?
Of course, everyone wants to know how you go about feeding five children. Fair question.
I told Karen that I make sure we have a limited number of healthy snacks within reach. We also try to train our children early to set the table, so we put all the little kid dinnerware down low, where they can reach it. This prevents me from having to hear, “Moooommmyyy, can I have some water?” ten thousand times a day. If they want a drink, they know where the cups are, and how to use the water dispenser on the fridge.
Evidently, they also know where to find the cereal. And the apples. And the spoons. And yes, my husband has developed a (bottled water) drinking problem. We’re going to be addressing it. Eventually.
Finally, after ten minutes just jam-packed with helpful advice, I was asked how I deal with toys. How do I streamline, keep the plastic-chaos at bay?
“Well, Karen,” I said, “that’s why God invented storage ottomans.”
We long ago gave up on the idea of a conventional coffee table. After all, you’ve seen what happens to our tables. Instead, we use fake leather ottomans from Target. The bonus being that you can load up on toilet paper at the same time you’re furnishing your house.
Those ottomans hold a lot. You can cram all kinds of crap in there.
But clearly, not ALL the crap.
So Karen and I wrapped up our conversation, and I hung up feeling pretty good about myself.
Until I unlocked my bedroom door. I was confronted by my unpublishable, non-Pinterest reality.
Let this be a lesson, folks. All those how-to articles you read about work/life balance, all those pictures you see that show you just how far you have to go to before you could be considered organized, together, competent?
They are all LIES.
So, go easy on yourself. Keep keeping on, no matter how imperfectly.
And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be mistaken for an “expert” too.