As most of you know, this year I am focusing on giving up one thing each month, rather than a huge list of new year’s resolutions that will never happen. I realized that I have always had great intentions in the past with my resolutions, but they were large goals that frustrated me easily when I failed. So this year, the Lord gave me a different strategy – monthly focuses that built up and continued throughout the year.
Last month, I was prompted to give up the Perfection and the Mess. Giving up control of this was no easy task. I am, by nature, a Type A – gold, personality. I like things in order. Some may say my house is organized – or at least fairly organized. I have tubs for toys, which are divided and sorted according to kind. I have tubs for the kids clothes that we pass down. Everything has a place and I like everything in it’s place.
I get stressed when the living room gets too messy. I can’t think straight when things are chaotic in the house. It’s just how I’ve always been. But, I am tired of walking around all day picking up after the kids and I get cranky when I feel like all I do is clean up after people. I know part of that is letting them pick up for themselves, but it just drives me so crazy that I never took the time to teach them and I sure didn’t follow through. I got tired of waiting on them and did it myself. Consequently I was running out of steam and patience.
This past month my goal was to let go of having everything in it’s place – at least all the time. It has been a difficult month to put it mildly. However, since God has a sense of humor, things did not go according to my plan. As most of you know, I have been pretty sick the past few months. February was no different. I have very little energy most days and when I have even the slightest bit, I tend to over-do it. I literally couldn’t keep up the house as I like to do and things got quite out of control. We had some friends scheduled to come for dinner one Friday night, so I spent most of the day cleaning and re-organizing things that had gotten misplaced. I was quite pleased with myself, but again realized I did not enlist the help of the children.
But that one scenario gave me an idea. I am now enlisting the help of the kids each day as we do quick cleans throughout the day – before lunch and before bedtime. These have helped me to relax a little during the day. I know that if things get a little chaotic, we will have a quick clean time later and things will be put back where they belong. I have also implemented the use of colored bins to help in the cleaning process. As much as I try to keep the kids’ toys separate, they don’t always stay that way. So, I have a blue bin, a pink bin and a tan bin to divide up where the toys belong. Blue bin toys go to the boys’ room. Pink bin toys go to the girls’ room. And the tan bin toys go to the playroom. The kids find it fun to “throw” the toys into the correct bins while they are cleaning up. We also play race games and sing songs as we clean up to help make it more fun.
These small changes have really given me the freedom to enjoy their toys all over the living room floor – for a short time anyway. I enjoy having a clean house and feel like I can breathe when it’s done, but I’m so exhausted from cleaning everything and so focused on the mess that I miss out on just living and being in the moment with my kids and family. This month has really shown me the freedom in releasing control of everything and sharing the responsibility. I also realized what a disservice I was doing for my own kids. They were not learning responsibility or the ability to follow directions. They only learned how mean I could be when things weren’t done the way I wanted. Thankfully, that has changed and life has become, strangely, more relaxed.
I am happier.
For the month of March, I am tackling a life-long struggle. This one is not easy to admit and even harder to relinquish the control it has on my life. FOOD. Food has had control over my life in one form or another since was about 12 years old. None of it good. So this month I am spending time in prayer asking God to change my heart and release the control it has over me. Read more over at Your One Tree, where I’m contributing today.