Monday, 18 February 2013

Trying to get it all under control

Yeah, I said "ALL". Because I'm crazy like that.

Every once in awhile, I get this insane idea that with the right organizational tools, the right plan, the right schedule, the right commitment, I can finally figure out how to stay on top of my blogs, keep up with my freelance work, keep the house clean, make delicious healthy creative dinners that never cost more than $10 for the whole family, organize and use my coupons to get tons of stuff for nearly free, be mom to my daugher, spend time with my husband, go to services and Bible class every week, do some kind of hike or other outdoor event every weekend, and still have time for my yoga and pilates classes, journal writing, reading and watching an occasional TV show.

Oh and did I mention, keep some semblance of sanity? Because, yeah, I'm crazy like that.

When I write it all down like that, I can see the insanity. But even then, a part of me thinks it's still possible. Or at least more possible than my daily reality suggests. Because the real, daily me is always running at full speed but still leaving half of that list in the "To be done" column by the time I crash around midnight (or one or two or...)

And I wake up, behind on my blog, opting for a quick but not cheap dinner plan, watching my coupons expire unused, floors in need of cleaning and article deadlines looming, all the while dreading the rush of the approaching (or current) weekend which only seems to double or triple my exhaustion and "behindedness" (my new you like that one?)

Why do we women do this?  Because I know it's not just me. I know there are many heads nodding as you read, recognizing your own never-ending list and that feeling that if you just found the right method, it would all fall into place.

I remember years ago reading an article by a woman who was trying to do just that, with a new planner. She kept adding time onto her morning, by scheduling her wake-up time earlier and earlier, to squeeze in things like exercise or meditation or writing. And at the same time, she kept pushing back her planned bed time, so she would be able to get a jump-start on the next day by laying out clothes, setting the table for breakfast or carving out some time to read. But when she put the two pieces together, she realized that her new "schedule" would have had her getting up before she went to bed.

I laughed, but only because I understood. I could see myself making that same discovery. I've bought the planners. I've created the "Command Center" in the house with white boards and bulletin boards and calendars. I've created online calendars and printed and posted calendars and put calendars on my phone that are shared with my husband and daughter's phones. But still, the list never gets done.

And yet, even with years of momhood experience, and stories that point out the futility, I keep trying. So the real question is, how do I stop? How do WE stop? Because all I can think of is heading out to buy a new and bigger calendar.

Do you have a solution? A tool that really does work? Or a technique that lets you step back from the insanity, and manage it somehow?

Can you share, please? Otherwise, I know I'll be downloading yet another planning tool by midnight.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

What a "clean room" means to a teenager

The Before...
We just had yet another round about the room. But this time, I didn't yell or even get mad.  I was too busy laughing.

Why? Because the absurdity of what a teen can call a "clean" room just hit me. Maybe it's because I haven't been sleeping well, and I'm punchy. But it was all too funny to do anything but laugh..

For those of you new to this parent thing, you might not understand. Let me put it in simple terms. Two year olds make a mess. Teenagers give F4 tornadoes a run for their money. 

And then they "clean" it up. And that's where the real fun starts. We had that particular breed of fun just tonight. But I was laughing to hard to haul out the camera, so use your imagination. Here goes...

According to the alternate-reality world of teenager-hood, a clean room may include:

  • Five assorted glasses, cups and mugs
  • Three plates and two bowls
  • My favourite tea pot, the one I said must never, ever, ever, under any circumstances go further than the dining room  (because it was a wedding present and cost more that I could ever possibly justify spending for a tea pot!) 
  • Three pairs of shoes in the hall just outside of the door
  • Two belts on the same hall floor
  • A floor under the bed which was home to a half dozen power cords and headphones, several food  wrappers, an apple core and at least two magazines. 
  • A pile of "I don't know what to do with this" stuff that covers about a 2' x 2' square of carpet
  • A dresser top that I know is there only because I can remember what it looks like from when we moved in.
  • Ditto the bedside table top
  • Ditto the desk top
  • An unmade bed piled with at least half of the blankets, quilts and pillows we own (she likes to make a "nest" to sleep in...oh, wait. She got that trait from me. Never mind...)
I walked in, because she wanted me to see the "clean room". My husband, who had beaten me to the punch, was laying on the floor, laughing. I could not help but joining in. So we giggled. And my daughter giggled. And her friend, who was "helping" her clean, giggled. 

And when we finished laughing, she put on the two belts, and two of the pairs of shoes that had been in the hall (one pair on feet, one on hands), then picked up the long-since outgrown little girl purse from the dresser and announced she was ready to go to Wendy's for a Frosty. as a reward for cleaning her room. 

So.....Dishes removed, space under the bed cleared and vacuumed and the desk somewhat exposed, my husband took the girls to Wendy's for those Frostys

Yeah, according to the "Great and Powerful Oz", or "The Book of Really Good Parenting" (which I am sure exists, but I never did find a copy), we are bad parents.  We should have refused to play along until the room was genuinely clean. We should have used it as an object lesson for responsibility and natural consequences and all the other things the people who have read that "Really Good Parenting" book do. 

But we didn't. We laughed and we bought Frostys

But you know what? I don't care what I should have done. It was worth it for the giggles she gave us. And that's more precious than all the spotlessly clean rooms in the universe.

Friday, 15 February 2013

What you say about social media is NOT what your kids hear

Let me start out by saying that is not yet another post about the dangers of social media profiles, and the world of paedophiles lurking out there waiting to scoop up the names, locations and pictures. That message has come through loud and clear. Got it.

Nope, this is about trying to get kids (and especially teens) to understand that NOTHING goes away online. That the "Delete" button is really just an archive or a "don't show this here now to me" button.

And that colleges and universities are using that information (including what you THOUGHT you deleted) to decide who get in and who gets scholarships.

And employers, legally or not, are using it to decide who gets hired and who gets the boot. And did I mention that it NEVER, EVER, EVER goes away???

So here's how it goes. I calmly tell my kids and their friends that they shouldn't post anything online they wouldn't want their grandmother, teachers, future boss or someday boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife reading. Or looking at. Or listening to. (Yeah, dangling participles galore...I can just hear my English degree adviser now!)

They look at me with sympathy. Poor mom has drunk the Kool-Aid. Doesn't get the world of Tumblr or Facebook. Never mind that online content marketing is my profession. Doesn't matter.

And so they post. And they upload.  Nothing truly awful. Nothing criminal or mean. Just stuff that to an admissions committee faced with 200 completely qualified students and one more slot could mean they come across as a slacker or uncomnmited or that person who's going to penny in the other students on the dorm floor. So they get the dreaded thin letter and someone else gets the welcome packet.

I know that the screaming-until-your-face-turns-blue or lecturing until your tongue is sprained won't get the message across. But ignoring it isn't an option.

So I'm asking you...what if anything has worked for you?  What message, what tool, what piece of information worked?

In the meantime, here's a message for future employers and college admissions boards everywhere. Kids say and do stupid stuff. By definition. Because they are kids. So could you please do everyone a favor and just look away a bit more? Scale back the peeking in where you're not invited. It's kind of like reading your sister's diary...none of your business and probably mostly made up.

Because behind the weird videos and talk about putting a cow on the high school princpals roof, they're good kids.  And odds are they would be good students and good employees.

Oh, and one more thing.  That prank you never figured out when I was at UF? That was me. The early-admissions, squeeky clean honors student. Just sayin'