Taming the closet monster

I don’t know about you, but when my kids were babies, I went into preparation mode for clothing. I did all the math, clipped all the coupons and figured out how far in advance I could purchase the basics. As a matter of fact, for our family photos, I pulled out a sweatshirt I’d bought on super sale when Liam was a toddler. He’s now eight, if that helps you envision what our clothing storage has been like ever since I was first pregnant with him.

Last year, though, I realized we were out of control. As I went the closet and found all the things I’d purchased over the years that I thought were adorable, or an absolute necessity. I also realized that I probably hadn’t used at least a third of the items I’d stockpiled. Part of the reason was because Liam is very particular with what he allows to touch his skin and part of it was simply because when you buy “cute” items, finding something to go along with it doesn’t always just fall into your lap.

Over the summer, my desire for a streamlined wardrobe reached a fever pitch. Liam wore the same three shirts on repeat when we weren’t in the pool and Sylvia pretty much lived in her pjs. And yet, the clothing in the drawers and closet were constantly all over the house, or wadded up in the corner of the closet floor. I started watching what the kids were wearing and realized they wore the same basic things on rotation with time out for Sunday clothes. And really, who needs NINE pairs of pjs when bed wetting isn’t an issue.

My theory, at least when related to my kids, is that when they have too much, they can’t manage. Also, then Mama is the one flipping out and yelling about the constant mess.

So we began purging this week. I’ve plucked out the too-small clothes and set aside eight shirts of short and long sleeves for each child. Liam has one pair of jeans because he hates them. I’m trying the jogger trend on him instead of chinos because they have elastic waists and are super soft. I weeded out the ohmygoshitsonsalefor97cents dresses I had bought for Sylvia that she hated. I took all the extra hangers out of the closets. And the socks I’ve hung on to “just in case”.

The kids’ closets are slimmer. They have a few items for church yet and their co-op uniforms. Their dressers are pared down, and it feels so good. The key to this project was to go through the clothing with each child. I asked them what they liked and what they wanted to keep. I asked how things felt on their bodies and if they wanted to give it to a friend or to the clothes closet.

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to IKEA and purchased Liam a new dresser. While I was wandering the endless isles, I found the Skubb boxes and thought they would be a great solution to the large drawer that was to store his socks and undies. And yes, they work quite well. One box for socks, one for undies, one for bathing suits, one for ties and then the two little ones hold his wallet and various items he likes to hoard.

Next up, teaching the kids how to do laundry. Or maybe, I should just work on keeping their socks from piling up in the corners?

Anxiety Girl!

Things have calmed down a bit around here, finally. Matt had a heart scare a few weeks ago that, thankfully, only resulted in major dietary changes and the addition of exercise into his life. During that time, I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. Husband, kids, work, life… it just felt like too much. And then, before I knew it, I had to head to Washington DC for a lobby trip with Moms Clean Air Force.

I’ve been advocating with Moms for six years. When I started, Sylvia was an itty bitty baby, who would need to nurse or poop pretty much whenever I’d go up to speak. I once nursed in a back corner of the State House only to look up and realize I was directly under a security camera. That being said, I’ve learned to get over myself and power through whatever nerves I have.

This trip though… I couldn’t get it together and feel comfortable. Part of it may have been that Matt needed specific food, part of it being that the kids had plenty of activities. Either part is enough on its own, but together? I just couldn’t let go of the concern that something would go horribly wrong. So I obsessed and prepared and worried.

And even though I was a wreck, I realized once the whole trip was over, I’ve grown. Yes, I was nervous about my family. But when I considered where those nerves were coming from, I realized they were simply because a health concern sets me into a panic for control. I had none being a few states away. And when I was able to identify that, it was a matter of accepting that I wasn’t in control.

Isn’t that the worst? Having no control when you are the one used to having it all? Ick. Not my favorite. However, I’d like to mention that instead of crying and having stomach problems, I just did it. And when things were stressful during the trip, it didn’t phase me. Because there are only so many things I can control. It’s taken me many, many years to learn this, but once I did? Life changing!

I’m home now, and everyone is still alive 🙂 Matt’s mom answered my call for help and she kept everyone happy and healthy. The kids were delighted to have Mama back and the dogs even more so. Matt and I? We’re much better together.