I usually keep Christmas around as long as possible, but this year I was itching to pack away the stockings, box up the ornaments, and stuff our artificial tree into the darkest, cobwebbiest corner of our garage. My living room was already bursting with baby stuff – I hadn't seen the surface of our dining table in weeks, and jammed in next to the table was a pack 'n play. I'd been using it for those sporadic newborn naps, but lately it was serving as the place to stash gifts and wrapping paper and whatever I needed to keep away from Jack.
Baby and toddler paraphernalia plus the trappings of Christmas do not a happy clutter-phobic mother make, so I asked my mom to come up and watch the kids on Saturday while I put my house back together.
Phillip was my somewhat reluctant partner in Operation If All This Stuff Doesn't Disappear I Am Going To DIE. He was more than willing to kick Christmas out of the living room, but he wasn't excited about my other goals, which I wrote out in anal-retentive bullet points on a Post-It note stuck to the fridge:
• PUT CHRISTMAS AWAY • SORT AND STORE TOO-SMALL CLOTHES • SORT AND STORE OR GIVE AWAY OLD TOYS • CLEAN OUT OFFICE
Phillip made a face when he read that last one. Me? Mess around in HIS special room? I carefully explained that we were running out of storage space, and unless he wanted to live up to his ears in newborn clothes and the entire Fisher-Price inventory, we were going to have to make some room in the office.
I tried not to make too many sweeping statements about parenting before I had kids, but one thing I was pretty firm about was not having my life taken over by toys. I'd visit other families and see trucks and blocks and baby dolls and stacking cups strewn all over the floor. Why didn't these parents have nicely labeled tubs for storing these obnoxious pieces of plastic? What about a toy chest that matched the living room furniture? Better yet, why didn't they just make sure all the toys stayed in the kids' rooms where they belonged? I mean, HONESTLY, how hard can it BE?
Of course, now my living room is succumbing to a slow suffocation-by-plastic death. Yay, karma! There's not much I can do about it except pick up every night (which I don't always do) and complain (which I do incessantly). I dream about a playroom (cleaning lady included), but I settle for nagging my husband about lack of storage space and how we need to simplify our life and do you think Jack will notice if we just throw away the toy food?
It's hard keeping on top of The Clutter, especially since I am a Throw-Outter married to a Keep-Everythinger. (You know, I once got entirely distracted from cleaning the bathroom when I discovered, in Phillip's bathroom drawer, little bottles of prescription medication that expired BEFORE WE GOT MARRIED.)
The overwhelming feeling of Too Much Stuff is exponentially worse during the holidays, but we eventually worked ourselves into the Put Away Christmas spirit. It only took a little determination, muscle, and thirty minutes spent arguing over where the talking Yoda doll should go. Now our house is clutter-free and, added bonus, it feels BIGGER! See what a little organization can do? Now if only lasted longer than ten minutes.