I joke with James that with each child born I get a little more OCD. Let me just say that OCD is a really relative term for me…I don't actually have OCD, I just really crave order in this chaos!
It has been my goal to keep my kitchen looking like this. I find that if I have a clean kitchen and that my bed is made…I'm a way happier momma! I have to admit…for the past few months I have been "mostly" successful at this.
I have been working really hard at maintaing the chaos that comes along with 4 kids. Here's a few things I've learned that have really helped me stay on top of it.
A little while ago I began my Project 365 journey to really de-clutter my home. I have had huge success in getting the unnecessary items out of here! It has cleared up so much space and really enabled me to be able to focus on organizing the things that I have kept. I have had VVA come and pick up my junk at least 6 times. It's crazy!
2: Bins, bins and more bins. Everything has a place.
I am totally and completely obsessed with these bins from Wal-Mart. They are $4 each (you can't find canvas bins for cheaper than that. I use them in my pantry, laundry room, coat closet, playroom, bathrooms, and the boys room. Seriously…they are everywhere. I really love them in the pantry. I can hide all of those odd shaped bags and containers. It just pulls things together so nicely.
I also have about 200 of these mini storage bins. They fit perfectly inside of drawers and I have them in literally every single drawer in this home.
I just added a couple of new items to inside my cabinets that I love. These things are amazing at saving space and keeping everything in it's place!
2. AM & PM Power Clean
I have never been that great at cleaning throughout the day. I have always had a tendency to just let things pile up until I can't stand it anymore, and I'm stuck cleaning after dinner when I'm exhausted. So I now have 15 minute "power clean" times each day. In the morning I make my bed (this is a really big improvement woo woo!), wipe down bathroom counters, put clothes where they belong, clean up the morning dishes, wipe down counters, and unload the dishwasher. It really doesn't seem to take longer than 15-20 minutes to get these things done. It was just all about taking a solid block of time twice a day to do this! The evenings look a little bit different from the morning power clean because I enlist the kids to help.
3. Child Labor
I have been making the kids be much more diligent in sharing the burden of cleaning. They are finally getting old enough to take on more responsibility and it makes me one, happy, momma! Every day they have a few chores that they must get done; both in the morning and evening. In the morning they get dressed, brush their teeth, clean out the sink, make their beds, clear their dishes and put any toys upstairs that belong there. Throughout the day I may often have Josiah vacuum or Micah dust but we all know that doesn't happen every day. Then in the evenings we have a family time "power clean". We take 15 minutes to just clean everything they can within 15 min. This helps while I'm finishing up the dishes and sweeping the kitchen floor…and does wonders fir the playroom.
One of the best tips I have ever heard is do not fix their mistakes when it comes to cleaning. I will not go back over their rooms and re-make their beds, or vacuum where they miss, or clean out the sink when they missed a spot of blue toothpaste (why is it always blue). I have seen such a huge improvement in their skills, they learn to correct their mistakes. Josiah's bed making skills have improved so much without me even talking to him about it! Granted, if they have done a "half-job" (as my mom used to call it…and I totally HATED it…!) I will point it out to them and ask them to do their best.
4: Touch it Once
I had a friend once tell me this was how she kept her house so neat. You take your shoes off…just put them away. You are done with your snack, just put it away, you take off your sweater…hang it up. Revolutionary! Touch it only once and you won't have to worry about it later. I love this…it is really great advice and has helped me think that way! I have really implemented that into our car too. I call it "pack it in, pack it out". If you bring it into the car it is your job to bring it out. Hey…my car is completely clutter free now. It's amazing!
5: Make a conscious effort each day
I have really found that making a conscious effort to be actively organized has really made things much easier. I do it every day, without fail. I spend maybe an hour of my day cleaning or organizing and it relives so much stress from our family.
Now if there was only a laundry fairy…..because this is getting out of hand!
This is what my living room looks like one evening a week…I HATE laundry…seriously…hate it. Like…I'd rather scrub a toilet instead of folding and putting away laundry. At least I'm doing their laundry….you are welcome, children.
But at the end of the day, this is still my "loose interpretation to clean". To each his own, right?
When we began our adoption journey I remember sitting in class listening to a talk about connecting with your baby. The case workers warned us that we might have a hard time connecting with our new child, as we didn't grow them in our bellies.
I thought this was so silly. I knew what it felt like to connect with a newborn. It's the most precious thing and I knew the bond was instantaneous. To hold your child for the first time feels like nothing else.
When we looked at Caleb for the first time, we bonded instantly, just as I thought we would. I viewed him the exact same way as I viewed my other babies.
But as time went on, things were definitely different with him.
I was not nursing him.
It seems like such a little thing, but my soul yearned to have this connection with him. With my other babies the moment they touched my skin they went crazy with adorable, bird-like rooting. Caleb never did that. It made me so sad for him. I felt sad that he didn't have the opportunity to bond with me through nursing. I would look into his eyes as he was bottle feeding and felt sad for him. I thought he deserved to be nursed by the woman who gave him life.
I understand that this thought is not logical, it is emotional. I knew that we were bonding and I knew he loved me as his mommy. But I just didn't know if he knew I was his mother. I loved him so much, just as much as my other children, I just had a sadness for him. I was not sad to be his mother, I was elated.
One of the most common things people would say to us is how lucky Caleb was to have us as his family. This never sat quite right to me, I knew we were the ones who were blessed to have him in our lives. Here is the thing I have learned about adoption through Caleb: it is second best.
I truly believe that when God designed family he created it to be two parents creating a life and raising that child together, as a family. When sin entered the world that changed everything. With that, adoption was formed. While adoption may not be what God originally designed, he then designed it to be beautiful. It is amazing that we are allowed to be part of this perfect baby's life. We feel overwhelmed with joy to be his parents. I know that his life will be so much fuller now that he is our son. But I can't help but feel sad for the fact that his birthparents didn't have the capacity to raise him. They are so sweet, loving, caring, and compassionate. They are just broken and unable to raise him the way he deserves. As a result of their love for him we get to enjoy the life they created.
The feelings of sadness dissipated immediately one afternoon. Often I will take the kids to play at James' school. They love to run around with the other kids in his PE classes. I was sitting on the gym floor with him in my lap. He was gazing into my eyes and smiled. At that moment my heart felt so full I started to tear up. I knew in that moment what he had been feeling the entire time; I was his mommy. He loved me as his mother and he was my son. That smile was all that I needed to know and understand the beauty of adoption. That he was made to be my child. He was made to be in our family and part of our legacy.
I am not sad for him anymore. I know he loves being here with us. I know his birthparents are grateful for our family. I know that forever our lives are better because of adoption. I cannot even begin to imagine what our family would be like had we have chosen to ignore the calling to adopt. We are so blessed. So, so blessed.